Following a marathon overnight negotiating session, a final agreement was approved at the UN’s COP28 climate conference in Dubai, which for the first time ever called for a global transition away from fossil fuels.
While falling short of the ambition of some countries and environmental organizations to introduce a time-bound requirement to “phase out” fossil fuels, the negotiations, brokered by COP28 President, Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber managed to bridge the gap with energy producing nations, including Saudi Arabia, which had reportedly attempted to remove fossil fuel references from the text, and substantially strengthened the language from a draft proposal released on Tuesday evening, which had only listed fossil fuel reduction as an option to be considered by countries.
The landmark agreement also marks a major step forward from prior COP deals, which had only managed to call for parties to accelerate efforts to “phase down” unabated coal use and inefficient fossil fuel subsidies.
Specifically, the agreement calls for:
“Transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly and equitable manner, accelerating action in this critical decade, so as to achieve net zero by 2050 in keeping with the science.”
Noting the milestone accomplishment, EU Commissioner for Climate Action Wopke Hoekstra in his remarks at the final COP28 plenary called the agreement “the beginning of the end of fossil fuels,” adding in a social media post that the conference “sets in motion an irreversible, and accelerated transition away from fossil fuels.”
Environmental groups also praised the final deal, while noting that the agreement still falls short of the ambition necessary to achieve the goal to limit global warming to 1.5 °C. In a statement following the deal, WWF Global Climate and Energy Lead Manuel Pulgar-Vidal said:
“The Earth is down but not out, as countries agree to transition away from fossil fuels, but fall short of consensus on the full phase out of coal, oil and gas at COP28. Nevertheless, a decision to transition away from fossil fuels is a significant moment. After three decades of UN climate negotiations, countries have at last shifted the focus to the polluting fossil fuels driving the climate crisis. This outcome signals the beginning of the end for the fossil fuel era.”
Other major achievements in the agreement included a call to triple renewable energy capacity globally and to double the rate of energy efficiency improvements by 2030.
In his closing plenary speech, Al Jaber said:
“We have travelled a long road together in a short amount of time over the last two weeks we have worked very hard to secure a better future for our people and our planet we should be proud of our historic achievement… we have given it a robust action plan to keep 1.5 within reach.”
Click here to access the text of the agreement.