COP28: Fossil Fuel’s Climate Conference
The recently concluded 28th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP28) in the United Arab Emirates marked a significant milestone, with 198 signatory countries of the Paris Agreement in attendance.
Global Stocktake Agreement
The core outcome of COP28, known as the “UAE Consensus” or Global Stocktake Agreement, underscores the imperative of a just transition away from fossil fuels. While stopping short of a direct “phase-out” demand, the agreement advocates transitioning from fossil fuels in energy systems. It sets ambitious targets, including tripling renewable energy capacity, doubling energy efficiency improvements by 2030, and phasing down unabated coal power. The agreement also highlights the importance of achieving net-zero emission energy systems and reducing non-CO2 emissions, particularly methane, by 2030. Notably, the inclusion of nature aligns with the Global Biodiversity Framework, committing to halting deforestation by 2030.
Financial Architecture and Climate Finance
COP28 saw momentum in financial architecture reform, acknowledging credit rating agencies for the first time and calling for an increase in concessional and grant finance. However, critical aspects such as the phase-out of fossil fuels, operationalising carbon markets, and clarity on “transitional fuels” were deferred to COP29. Small Island Nations and developing countries expressed dissatisfaction, citing inadequate funding for a just transition.
Pledges and initiatives emerged, including the Global Renewables and Energy Efficiency Pledge, aiming to triple renewable energy capacity and double energy efficiency by 2030. The Global Decarbonisation Accelerator focuses on increasing renewables and improving energy efficiency. Additionally, the Declaration of Intent on Mutual Recognition of Certification Schemes for Renewable and Low-carbon Hydrogen garnered support from 39 countries.
Food and Land Use
A Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems, and Climate Action, endorsed by 158 countries, emphasises embedding sustainable agriculture and food systems in climate responses. A $200 million partnership between the UAE and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation supports research and innovations in agriculture.
The Global Methane Pledge, targeting a 30% reduction in global methane emissions by 2030, spans Oil and Gas, Agriculture, and Waste sectors. Initiatives like the Oil and Gas Decarbonisation Charter and the Enteric Fermentation R&D Accelerator aim to align industries with net-zero goals.
Climate and Health
COP28 explicitly acknowledges the link between climate change and health. A Declaration on Climate and Health, endorsed by 144 countries, aims to accelerate the development of climate-resilient, sustainable, and equitable health systems.
Article 6 Markets
In a disappointing turn of events, Parties at COP28 failed to adopt texts advancing markets under Articles 6.2 and 6.4 of the Paris Agreement. While the lack of progress on Article 6.2 doesn’t impede bilateral cooperation, some uncertainty lingers around transparency, reporting, and authorisation processes. Additionally, the absence of agreement on methodologies for Article 6.4 delays the operationalisation of the crediting mechanism for at least another year. Despite these setbacks, political and business leaders outside negotiations voiced support for carbon markets as a crucial source of climate finance. In a positive development, voluntary standards announced collaboration to enhance integrity and accountability in the voluntary market. These efforts aim to stabilise what has been a turbulent year for the voluntary carbon market.
Looking Ahead to COP29 and COP30
COP29, hosted by petrostate Azerbaijan in 2024, and COP30, hosted by Brazil in 2025, hold expectations for establishing clear timelines for phasing out fossil fuels, operationalising carbon markets, and addressing funding gaps for developing nations, building on the progress achieved at COP28.
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