Post - Articles

COP28: More loopholes than a butterfly net

  • 4 months ago (2023-12-14)
  • David Flin
Climate change 20 Coal 273 Emissions 57 Gas 369 Oil 15

The agreement reached at COP28 was, in some ways, a milestone, in that for the first time for nearly 30 years, specific mention of fossil fuels has been made. In addition, the agreement was to call on all nations to transition away from fossil fuels to avert the worst effects of climate change.

EM-Power 2024
More info

EM-Power 2024

However, despite the urging of more than 130 countries, the agreement did not include an explicit commitment to phase out or even phase down fossil fuel use. Instead, it uses a compromise that called on countries to “contribute” to global efforts to “transition away from fossil fuels in energy systems in a just, orderly, and equitable manner.”

The agreement does not set targets for individual countries, nor does it suggest any penalties for countries that make no efforts. It doesn’t discuss financing of achieving this goal, and it includes Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) as a viable technology, despite its unproven nature.

After the deal, Saudi Arabia said that the agreed text “does not affect our exports, does not affect our ability to sell oil.” It had objected to the inclusion of any reference to reducing the production and consumption of fossil fuels.

Key points of the deal include:

  • Reinforcing the 1.5C goal, and recognising this would require a 43 per cent emissions cut by 2030 and 60 per cent by 2035 relative to 2019 levels.
  • Global renewable energy should be tripled and the rate of energy efficiency improvements doubled by 2030.
  • Little progress was made on climate adaptation and finance. The agreement acknowledges this will need trillions of dollars.
  • A statement that global emissions should peak by 2025 was dropped.

Overall, it is a step forward, especially with the recognition that action needs to be taken over fossil fuels. However, the agreement is very much weaker than the US, the EU, the UK, and the Global South had wanted.