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COP28 summit calls for ‘transition away’ from fossil fuels

  • Published
    14th Dec, 2023

Negotiators adopt resolution titled Dubai Consensus; the text reflects a compromise between developed and developing countries on emissions.


COP 28: Transition away from Fossil Fuels

  • Transition away from fossil fuels: In a historic move, nations gathered in Dubai recently adopted the Dubai Consensus, a resolution aimed at addressing the urgent need to transition away from fossil fuels and achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
  • Mitigation: This resolution, a product of the 28th Conference of Parties (COP 28), marks a significant step toward mitigating climate change, albeit with certain compromises and challenges.

The Dubai Consensus: Transitioning vs. Phase-Out

  • The standout clause of the 21-page text "calls on Parties to be transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly, and equitable manner."
  • However, this language represents a compromise, as earlier drafts had called for an outright "phase-out" of fossil fuels.
    • The shift from a phase-out to a transitioning approach reflects the delicate balance between developed and developing nations.

The Urgency of Net Zero by 2050

  • Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC): Scientific assessments, particularly those by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), emphasize that achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 is crucial to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.
  • Targets for emission reductions: The Dubai Consensus acknowledges this imperative, setting targets for emission reductions43% of 2019 levelsby 2030 and 60% by 2035.

Compromises and Criticisms

  • Extending time limit: COP 28 witnessed negotiations extending into overtime, with both vulnerable nations and countries with strong fossil fuel dependencies expressing discontent.
  • Shortened agreement: While some vulnerable nations argued that the agreement did not go far enough to end fossil fuels, others, including Saudi Arabia and Egypt, questioned the actual implementation and delivery of promised funds from developed countries.

Funding Commitments and Loss and Damage

  • Loss and Damage Fund: Amidst the compromises, COP 28 saw noteworthy successes, including commitments of $750 million to the Loss and Damage Fund, designed to assist countries dealing with climate disasters.
    • Additionally, pledges worth $85 million were made outside the main COP text to accelerate global decarbonization efforts.

Dilution of Language and Adaptation Challenges

  • Compromises in language: The final text of the Dubai Consensus reflects compromises in language, toning down references to a 'phase-out' and coal reduction.
  • Shift of Energy: Notably, for countries like India heavily dependent on coal for energy, the shift from "rapidly phase down" to "accelerating efforts towards the phase-down of unabated coal power" represents a nuanced compromise.

Broken Promises and Carbon Space

  • Broken promises: One of the key challenges lies in the broken promisesof financial support from developed nations to aid developing countries in their transition away from fossil fuels.
  • $100 billionCommitment: The failure to meet the 2009 commitment to mobilize $100 billion annually until 2025 is noted with "deep regret" in the Dubai Consensus.
  • Carbon space: Moreover, the concept of carbon space becomes crucial, with developing nations insisting that the remaining capacity should be preserved for their growth.
  • Net-zero earlier target: The call for developed countries to reach net-zero earlier (2035-2040) aims to provide developing nations with the necessary carbon space.

Way Forward:

  • The Dubai Consensus is undoubtedly a historic achievement, signaling a global commitment to address climate change.
  • However, the compromises made in the textand the challenges in implementation and funding underscore the complexity of reaching a consensus on such a critical issue.
  • As the world strives for a sustainable future, on-going deliberations and actions will be essential to ensure the effective transition away from fossil fuels and the achievement of net-zero emissions by 2050.
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