Sultan Al Jaber, President of COP28, brought down the gavel today on a final agreement of the UN’s two-week climate conclave. The Global Stocktake – the principal document – was adopted by 198 nations.
“You have put common interest ahead of self-interest,” said Al Jaber. “We have the basis for transformational change.“
The document, calling for an ‘orderly’ transition away from fossil fuels, was accepted by all of the world’s major oil producing nations except Iran, which left the summit early in protest of Israel’s attendance.
The revised document came after strong pushback from more than 100 nations against an initial draft issued Monday. The more strongly worded revised document came forth from the President’s office Wednesday morning, after a night of consultations with top diplomats, ministers and representatives of country groups.
What is clearly a compromise document, balancing simultaneous calls for global energy transition and developing countries’ financial needs, was branded by Al Jaber as the ‘UAE Consensus.’
Al Jaber, the CEO of major state oil company Adnoc, gave a long list of COP28’s accomplishments, emphasizing that, “we have language on fossil fuel in our final agreement for the first time ever.”
This announcement, recognizing that after 30 years of UN-sponsored climate talks the actual cause of climate change is finally named in a consensus document, was greeted with rousing applause by the gathered ministers and delegates in plenary session. Related: Investors Turn Bearish on European Natural Gas Amid Eased Supply Fears
The COP28 President continued with superlatives, saying, “We have delivered a comprehensive response to the Global Stocktake and set the world on the right direction.”
He called the agreement, “a robust action plan…led by science” and a “historic package to accelerate climate action.”
“We have delivered a paradigm shift that has the potential to redefine our economies,” he continued. “We have integrated the real economy into climate action.”
Al Jaber spoke of “a new economic age” and went on to assert that the agreement reimagines global finance and builds on the loss and damage requirements of developing nations.
Small islands have their say
While all 198 participant nations assented, some including Samoa, Bangladesh, Bolivia and others sounded notes of caution.
The first to speak after the president was Samoa’s lead delegate Anne Rasmussen, who, speaking for 39 small island states, pointed out shortcomings in several parts of the agreement, which does not specify peak emissions in 2025, and puts exclusive focus on decarbonization of energy systems. Her statement was greeted with loud applause.
Recognizing the applause for the island nations, John Kerry, the top US climate envoy, said the while everyone will see deficiencies in the document, it is still an important accomplishment and he hailed a moment of multilateralism.
Beginning of the end
“This document sends very strong message to the world,” said Kerry, that, “1.5 remains within reach.”
Kerry said that the next round of the countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), to be delivered in early 2025, will need to be aligned with the 1.5C objective of the Paris climate agreement of 2015.
He also restated figures from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), saying that global greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by 43% by 2030, and 60% by 2035.
“Transitioning away from fossil fuels to achieve net-0 by 2050 – that is clear,” in the new agreement, Kerry said.
He went further, saying that ‘transitional fuels’ need to be aligned with the 1.5C objective, and that abatement technologies should be focused only on ‘hard-to-abate’ industry sectors. He also said the new agreement makes clear that the international financial system must shift away from whatever puts the Paris goal at risk.
Wopke Hoekstra, the European Commissioner, followed Kerry, calling the day, “a day of gratitude…and silent determination.”
“Humanity has finally done what is long overdue…we have arrived at the beginning of the end of fossil fuels.”
Tackling the elephant in the room
The Global Stocktake document directly addresses what Norway’s top climate negotiator called “the elephant in the room,” at COP28.
The document calls for “transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly and equitable manner, accelerating action in this critical decade.”
It is compromise language, not as strong as ‘phasing out’ fossil fuels, and narrowed to energy systems, but stressing the urgency of this decade. Earlier in the day a spokesperson for the COP President called it a ‘finely calibrated document.’
The new Dubai Consensus document encourages countries to submit economy-wide NDCs, has new specific targets to triple renewables and double energy efficiency by 2030, and begins to introduce new financial architecture by recognizing the role of credit rating agencies for the first time and calling for a scale up of concessional and grant finance. It also states the need to significantly scale up adaptation finance.
NDCs next up
The Dubai summit may be remembered as the most significant COP since the Paris Agreement in 2015. However, its global goal setting will have effect only insofar as countries follow through with effective national plans. In early 2025, countries are to deliver new NDCs.
Some observers noted that the new agreement, with its emphasis on ‘whole-of-economy’ NDCs, may have the positive effect of compelling large economies to continue moving toward large scale transformation while opening possibilities for new approaches and innovations in emerging economies.
More focus on finance is expected next year at COP29 in Azerbaijan, while countries will bring their revised NDCs to COP30 in Brazil, in 2025.
By Alan Mammoser for Oilprice.com
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