All the news from COP28 as it happened
Read all the highlights from COP 28 across the two week event here.
Multiple texts have been agreed by countries this morning but the main one is the “global stocktake” text.
The global stocktake covers how far we have come in reducing emissions, preparing for climate change and financing these changes.
At 20 pages long with nearly 200 clauses, it includes the following:
• A call on countries to contribute to transition away from fossil fuels. This is the first time there has been an explicit mention of reducing our use of fossil fuels – the main driver of climate change
• Recognition that emissions will peak in the future but said that the date of this will be different depending on if you are a developed or developing country
• The text also recognised that the current levels of finance given by richer countries to help their poorer counterparts cope with climate change and move to renewables has been lacking. But it doesn’t go beyond that to require that richer nations do more to address this
• There is no reference to reduce methane emissions which has been in earlier texts. This is one of the most potent greenhouse gas emissions
One day after the end of COP28 and a new deal has been agreed after days of negotiations. The deal calls on countries to move away from using fossil fuels rather than phase them out, which is what many governments, campaigners and lobbyists wanted.
The text recognises the need for deep, rapid and sustained reductions if humanity is to limit temperature rises to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. The COP28 president, Sameh Shoukry, said nations had “confronted realities and… set the world in the right direction”.
Al Gore, former US vice-president said:
“The decision at COP28 to finally recognize that the climate crisis is, at its heart, a fossil fuel crisis is an important milestone. But it is also the bare minimum we need and is long overdue.”
“Whether this is a turning point that truly marks the beginning of the end of the fossil fuel era depends on the actions that come next and the mobilization of finance required to achieve them.”
The UK’s climate minister, Graham Stuart, says he was delighted to see COP28 come to a global agreement for the first time to transition away from fossil fuels. This is slightly at odds with the new licences for North sea oil and gas extraction. Stuart says fossil fuel production there is declining and new licences “simply allow us to manage it” and that it mitigates the need to “import more from abroad with higher embedded emissions than producing at home”.
It will be interesting to see how the COP28 deal translates into progress over the next 12 months.
Today marks the final day of COP28, however as with previous COPs it is running over and we are still waiting on a final text to be announced. Following yesterday’s draft text, which did not include the terminology ‘phase out fossil fuels’, and therefore was met with disappointment at its lack of ambition, we are waiting to see what changes will be made to the new text.
Today, it was revealed the UK’s Climate Change Minister, Graham Stuart, left COP28 early to return to the UK, which has received criticism from journalists, climate change campaigners and politicians.
As the negotiations between nations continue and reach their final stage, we can expect it will be a long night in Dubai.
After a weekend of discussions around the full phase out of fossil fuels the penultimate day of COP28 delivered many talks around energy transition, climate adaptation, finance transparency and further talks around phasing out fossil fuel extraction.
On Sunday, the COP president, Sultan Al Jaber, warned the summit that ambition must be stepped up. “The time has come for us to switch gears. We need a text agreed by everyone on greenhouse gases … It boils down to the need for all parties to come to terms (with the fact) that we will deliver the highest ambition. All parties should come to terms with this fact.”
Some of the main developments over the weekend included:
• The conference president, Sultan Al Jaber, warned that “failure is not an option”.
• Vulnerable countries were unhappy at the weak language on climate adaptation.
• Human Rights Day was marked by civil society complaints about restrictions on protest.
• Experts were worried that carbon emissions trading would have inadequate transparency.
The big question at this stage of the conference remains will countries agree to phase out fossil fuels or just phase them down?
The head of the United Nations, António Guterres, remains clear that climate justice must be delivered and has called on world leaders to “end the fossil fuel age” as he returned to COP28 for the final days of the summit. “Ministers and negotiators must move beyond arbitrary red lines, entrenched positions and blocking tactics. It is essential to recognise the need to phase out all fossil fuels.”
An alliance of countries, who say they are leaders on the phase-out of fossil fuels, are speaking in turn in Dubai. The French minister for the energy transition, Agnès Pannier-Runacher, is calling for language on the fossil fuel phase-out in the text: “The momentum has come to act and agree on an ambitious and clear language on fossil fuels … COP28 should be the COP where countries agree on ambitious language on phasing out fossil fuels to keep 1.5C alive,”.
Overall, there is a consensus that the focus needs to be on the phase out of fossil fuels rather than more investment in CCS technologies, which would extend the lifeline of the reliance on fossil fuels.
However, in a new draft agreement presented later in the day, fossil fuel and consumption will be reduced by 2050 in line with scientific advice. In this draft, the presidency avoids the terms phase out or phase down. By requiring countries to reduce their fossil fuel production, it effectively achieves the same ends as a phase down. Some countries and campaigners are likely to be disappointed.
Governments will be invited to consider the text, with two key meetings to take place this evening, including a heads of delegation meeting.
Yesterday was the only rest day at COP28, however we were back first thing this morning with a Minister Pairings Press Conference. COP28 President, Dr Sultan al-Jaber, commented during the conference, “We are now coming up to the most crucial point, negotiations. I think we can all agree COP28 has been different and has already made history. There is a sense of momentum, inclusivity, willingness and flexibility. We will achieve a paradigm shift that centres around the science of keeping 1.5C in reach. We will help redefine the global economies and put the most vulnerable at the centre of climate action.”
However, as talks between negotiators enter their final phase, governments are still not deciding on the most important issue, if fossil fuels will be phased out.
During today’s press conference, Dan Jørgensen, Denmark’s climate minister, said, “We cannot negotiate with nature. We cannot compromise, we must act. We are not on track and COP28 is the last opportunity to keep us on course. What we can do is negotiate with each other.”
Today marked Cities, Urbanisation and Built Environment Day at COP28. This is the first time cities have had a dedicated day at a COP. During a Press Conference early on in the day, Mayor of Freetown, Sierra Leone, Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, discussed the impact cities have on the climate crisis and the important role they can play in being part of the solution.
With 70% of energy related Greenhouse Gas emissions coming from cities, it is more important than ever that cities are included in the discussions at COP. Particularly as 75% of C40 Cities, a global network of nearly 100 world-leading cities that are united in action to confront the climate crisis, are cutting their emissions faster than their national government. Cities are at the front line of the climate crisis but also need to work with their nations to reduce how they are contributing to it.
In the session, Later Is Too Late: Tipping the Balance from Negative to Positive, the University of Exeter, launched their report, Global Tipping Points, which assesses the risks and opportunities of both negative and positive tipping points of the Earth system due to climate change.
The panel discussed how global emissions have increased by 1.1% due to coal and oil, and yet these are yet to hit their peak. Emissions generated by China are up by 4%, and the top 3 countries that emit land use emissions were revealed to be Brazil, Indonesia, and Congo, who in total contribute to 55% of global net land use emissions. The panel also discussed how we are not on track to meet the Glasgow Agreement made at COP26.
Today at COP28 was Energy, Industry, Just Transition and Indigenous People Day.
Over 60 countries signed the Global Cooling Pledge, which was announced alongside hosts the UAE and the Cool Coalition. The pledge aims to substantially reduce global cooling emissions by 68% by 2050. With the impact of climate change meaning many countries are experiencing extreme temperatures, and therefore using air conditioning and cooling more frequently, this announcement is a welcome commitment.
This pledge is particularly important, as in previous COPs the impact cooling has on global emissions has been a blind spot in discussions. The aim of the Global Cooling Pledge is to encourage countries to act now to to ensure low-carbon cooling growth. Currently the cooling sector accounts for 20% of global electricity consumption, and is predicted to double by 2050, therefore the benefits of countries signing this pledge is to reduce emissions caused by global cooling, reduce grid pressure, save consumers money and improve quality of life.
When discussing it in a panel, Dan Jørgensen, Ministry for Development Cooperation and Global Climate Policy for Denmark said the reason the country had decided to commit to the pledge is because there are many benefits to investing in renewable energy and “most Investments in energy efficiency pay themselves back very fast.”
Today marked Gender and Climate Day at COP28. Speaking today, U.S. Secretary Hillary Clinton, alongside a panel of women, discussed how barriers that hold women back in climate change and sustainability, can be eliminated.
By 2023 the green economy is expected to create 67 million new jobs, but women will only work in 25% of these jobs and risk being left behind. We need women’s full participation across green and blue industries. With this in mind, the US announced $1.4 billion to support women’s participation in these critical industries, supporting access to jobs, STEM education, promoting women’s skills training, and tackling discriminatory laws.
U.S Secretary, Hillary Clinton, discussed closing gender gaps in the green and blue sectors, and how enabling women to get involved can unlock much needed climate finance. Hillary Clinton told the packed conference, “gender equality can no longer be an afterthought.”
Early on in the day the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, a non-profit organisation based in the UK conducting independent research and analysis on energy and climate issues, talked about the Net Zero Tracker. This is a consortium project that look at all nations and all regions in the world plus all and all large emitting countries and large organisations to create a comprehensive database.
It takes into account whether companies have a decent plan for net zero, does it cover all of its emissions, does it specify what it is doing with carbon offsets and does it have interim targets.
At COP27 last year Antonio Gueterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said ‘net zero suffers from surplus of confusion and a deficit of credibility’.’
Of the report, Tzeporah Berman, Chair at Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, summarised ‘As the net zero tracker report and wider analysis shows, for all our talk on targets and emissions reduction and net zero there is still a striking lack of clarity on phase out plans for oil gas and coal, the products that are responsible for 86% of the emissions trapped in our atmosphere and causing the dramatic rise in extreme weather. We’re hearing that national net zero targets cover 88% of global GHG emissions but only 7% of those emissions are covered by any national commitment to phase out exploration, production or use of coal, oil and gas. The maths around phase out just doesn’t add up.’
‘This report lays bare the fallacy that net zero targets can be met whilst countries continue to expand fossil fuels. We cannot allow net zero to be a haven for bad math and broken promises.’
You can read more about the report and an overview of some of the data insights here
On day 2 of COP28 during his highly anticipated address, King Charles urged the delegation to harness COP28 for real change to to keep global climate commitments on track, telling the delegation ‘The Earth does not belong to us. We belong to the Earth’. He added ‘I pray with all my heart that COP28 will be another critical turning point towards a genuine transformational action.’
Later on in the day during the Delivery of the National Statements, the UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, doubled down on the message that the UK is still committed to net zero by 2050, despite a number of recent U-turns on energy efficiency and climate proposals. With this he announced £1.6bn of funding for climate projects, including green innovation, investment in the production of renewable energy and forests, with the ambition of delivering on the Glasgow deal to end deforestation. This latest funding announcement builds on the already pledged £1.6bn for the Green Climate Fund announced at the G20 summit.
Not content with the agreement of the Loss and Damage fund on day 1, today saw another big announcement in the Emirates Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems, and Climate Action – otherwise known as the ‘food deal’. In a first of its kind agreement, 134 countries including the UK, US, Brazil and China, have signed up to address one of the biggest challenges of climate change, to transform food systems by addressing waste, farming methods, and what we eat, in a move that will ‘build a global food system fit for the future’.
Opening Day 4
In the opening ceremony of COP28, handed over by last years’ President, Sameh Shoukry, who talked about the worrying levels of fossil fuel expansion and the broadening renewables gap, we heard from the new COP President, Sultan Al Jaber, who committed to being ‘laser focused’ on the ‘North Star’ that is 1.5. He expressed his commitment to unlocking finance saying that the Global South shouldn’t have to choose between development and climate action, and he is also committed to a loss and damage fund.
In his speech, UN Climate Change Executive Secretary, Simon Stiell, added that after the hottest year in history, COP28 must teach climate action to run, not walk. UK Professor Jim Skea, elected Chair of the IPCC, also amplified the importance of action saying that science is no substitute.
Meanwhile, in the Climate Action Network updates session the panel agrees that after a year of climate impacts overall ambition levels need to increase fivefold to get back on track.
Romain loualelan, from Oil Change International championed the need to phase out fossil fuels using the four Fs: in a Fast, Fair, Full and Funded way. He asked that rich nations have a responsibility to phase out rather than invest in expanding it. Carbon Capture is not a substitute for phased out fossil fuels.
There has been a set of recommendations that are not perfect, but they do represent a step forward – Rachel Cleetus from the Union of Concerned Scientists hopes to get a loss and damage fund operational by the end of the day and that a human rights framework also needs to be in place.