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Finally, climate talks call to transition away from fossil fuels


This year’s climate agreement can be described as the biggest step forward in addressing climate change since the Paris agreement in 2015. For the first time in almost three decades of annual climate talks, nations at the COP28 agreed to transition away from fossil fuels. This could be the beginning of the end for fossil fuels.


The COP28 that was presided over by host country, United Arab Emirates (UAE), and was supposed to culminate on Dec. 12, was extended for another day to come up with a better agreement, after the first draft of the UAE Consensus was met with strong opposition from nations and activists who demand stronger language to compel nations to veer away from dirty energy that is the main culprit behind this climate crisis. 


The Global Stocktake and the UAE consensus


What makes COP28 standout from previous conferences is the Global Stocktake (GST), which is an assessment of how much progress countries are making toward the Paris Agreement targets.


To recall, nations’ adoption of the Paris Agreement in 2015 committed them to limit global warming to well below two degrees Celsius compared to the pre-industrial era, and ideally to 1.5 degrees Celsius to avoid the most severe and irreversible climate change impacts. Each country is responsible for setting its own national targets and policies to contribute toward the Paris Agreement’s overall goals.


The United Nations published its report on the first GST in September and concluded that countries are not on track to meet the Paris Agreement goals. This assessment will be done again after five years.


Thus, the first Global Stocktake made the COP28 all the more crucial because it must retain any hope of hitting the 1.5 degrees Celsius target, specifically by cutting down 43 percent of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions this decade (compared to 2019 levels), then hit net-zero emissions by 2050.After an overtime on negotiations, 198 parties agreed to deliver a new era of climate action through the UAE Consensus that sets out an ambitious climate agenda to keep 1.5 degrees Celsius within reach. 


Among the major commitments contained in the final negotiated text, foremost is the unprecedented reference to “transitioning away from all fossil fuels” to enable the world to reach net zero by 2050.


Likewise, it encourages parties to submit economy-wide Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs); includes a new specific target to triple renewables and double energy efficiency by 2030; and builds momentum toward a new architecture for climate finance, recognizing the need to significantly scale up adaptation finance beyond the doubling to meet urgent and evolving needs.


COP28 also delivered negotiated outcomes to operationalize Loss and Damage, securing $792 million of early pledges, providing a framework for the Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA), and institutionalizing the role of the Youth Climate Champion to mainstream youth inclusion at future COPs. The UAE Consensus gives us renewed hope that we can still stall global warming and limit it to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Now, the bigger question is: Will it make an impact?

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