While the 28th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 28) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) did not finish on time, as the COP 28 President had hoped, this edition was “only” 23 hours late. For the climate negotiations, this is not a terrible score. And considering where things stood on Tuesday, 12 December, these few hours made a significant difference in securing a successful outcome.
Parties adopted a decision on the first Global Stocktake under the Paris Agreement, which recognizes the need for deep, rapid, and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in line with 1.5°C pathways. It encourages parties to come forward in their next nationally determined contributions with ambitious, economy-wide emission reduction targets, covering all GHGs, sectors and categories and aligned with limiting global warming to 1.5°C.
Among other things, the decision also calls on parties to contribute, in a nationally determined manner, to global efforts on:
- tripling renewable energy capacity globally and doubling the global average annual rate of energy efficiency improvements by 2030;
- accelerating efforts towards the phase down of unabated coal power;
- accelerating efforts globally towards net zero emission energy systems, utilizing zero- and low-carbon fuels well before or by around mid-century;
- 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;
- accelerating zero- and low-emission technologies, including, inter alia, renewables, nuclear, abatement and removal technologies such as carbon capture and utilization and storage, particularly in hard-to-abate sectors, and low-carbon hydrogen production;
- accelerating and substantially reducing non-carbon-dioxide emissions globally, including in particular methane emissions by 2030;
- accelerating the reduction of emissions from road transport on a range of pathways, including through development of infrastructure and rapid deployment of zero and low-emission vehicles; and
- phasing out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that do not address energy poverty or just transitions, as soon as possible.
Closing statements showcased how difficult it was to reach this compromise. Many denounced the lack of a clear reference to fossil fuel phase out, weak language on coal and methane, and the risks associated with so-called transitional fuels, which the decision says “can play a role in facilitating the energy transition while ensuring energy security.” Others found the reference to these specific global efforts too prescriptive and underscored the bottom-up and nationally-determined nature of the Paris Agreement.
Parties also adopted the framework for the Global Goal on Adaptation, launched the implementation of the work programme on just transition pathways, and adopted a number of other decisions.
President Al Jaber welcomed the outcome as a “victory for multilateralism” and a sign of solidarity and collaboration. He called the meeting a “historic turning point” that puts 1.5°C back in reach and gavelled COP 28 to a close at 5:11 pm.