Climate Agreements: What Did the COP28 Negotiations Conclude?

Amid the increasing challenges faced by the global economy due to severe climate changes, the 28th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP28) on climate change concluded from November 30 to December 13, 2023, in Dubai, UAE, chaired by UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, Sultan Al Jaber. The conference hosted about 70,000 participants, including state leaders and representatives from both the public and private sectors. The conference achieved unprecedented results, including exceptional financial agreements and commitments. For the first time, an agreement was reached on a statement confirming the start of a complete transition away from fossil fuels. The UAE played a prominent role in hosting the current climate conference, mobilizing efforts, and achieving global consensus among approximately 198 participating countries to draw a roadmap and action plan that enables fair and equitable global climate action, contributing to mitigating climate change impacts and securing the rights of future generations for a safe and sustainable future.

Positive Outcomes:

The current COP28 session received special attention from all countries, regardless of their development levels. Hopes and ambitions for exceptional outcomes were high, forming a new phase of efforts for countries to agree on binding decisions and outcomes that contribute to reducing the expected impacts of climate change. The special importance of COP28 stemmed from its diverse and significant topics, the climate changes witnessed globally in 2023, and the shift towards supporting clean energy in many countries to assess their progress in achieving the Paris Agreement goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Additionally, the current conference gained importance by hosting, for the first time ever, a day dedicated to global trade, business, and philanthropy. Topics covered included health and environment, discussing their contributions to global carbon emissions and how to enhance the role of trade in transitioning to clean energy. The key conference outcomes include:

Addressing a Wide Range of Issues:

The conference highlighted risks from geopolitical disruptions threatening global stability, the rapid growth of low-cost renewable energy, low-emission innovations, concerns about energy security, increased fossil fuel demand, worsening climate disasters, ongoing food crises, unprecedented public support for climate action, lack of support for the most vulnerable countries to climate change impacts, and progress in financing the loss and damage fund agreed upon at COP27. The conference action plan focused on four main goals: accelerating a responsible, just, and logical transition in the energy sector, developing climate finance mechanisms, improving lives and livelihoods, and fully involving all developing and developed countries, reflecting sustainable development goals. Specialized topics covered included health, trade, relief, recovery, and peace. The conference relied on four general pillars supporting effective implementation of sustainability plans and addressing climate change: technology and innovation (highlighting technology’s role in global transition to renewable energy and emission reduction goals), finance (emphasizing the urgent need for climate action funding and increasing annual investments in climate solutions), inclusivity (aiming for a comprehensive process involving all parties to foster innovation and empower communities for sustainable changes), and supporting front-line communities affected directly by climate change, especially in the most vulnerable developing countries.

Activating the Loss and Damage Fund:

The first day of the current conference saw the announcement of activating the loss and damage fund agreed upon at the 2022 summit, compensating the most affected Southern countries by climate change and easing funding tensions between the North and South. Total contributions amounted to approximately $726 million, with the UAE and Germany each pledging $100 million, the US committing $17 million (contingent on Congressional agreement), and the UK pledging £60 million ($76 million).

Unprecedented Financial Commitments:

COP28 mobilized about $83.9 billion in climate finance, marking a new era of global cooperation on climate change. These commitments included first-time pledges for food systems and health sector transformations, renewable energy and efficiency announcements, and initiatives to decarbonize heavy industries. Significant pledges included the World Bank increasing climate financing to 45% of its total loans, representing an annual increase of about $9 billion. The Inter-American Development Bank announced over $2 billion annual investments in Latin America until 2030 to combat climate change, and the Asian Development Bank allocated around $10 billion for climate activities in the Philippines from 2024 to 2029. Japan and France pledged support for the African Development Bank’s and Inter-American Development Bank’s plans to leverage IMF special drawing rights for climate and development. UAE banks pledged around $270 billion for green financing, and $5 billion were committed to the Green Climate Fund, the largest international fund supporting climate action in developing countries. The UAE also launched the $30 billion ALTÉRRA climate finance fund aiming to mobilize and invest $250 billion by 2030, and allocated $150 million to address water scarcity and security solutions in poor communities.

Agreement on the UAE’s Sustainable Agriculture Declaration:

COP28 achieved unprecedented global consensus and commitment across various topics, with about 11 declarations and agreements covering aspects of climate action from finance to agriculture and health. Among these, 153 countries signed the UAE’s declaration on sustainable agriculture and resilient food systems, contributing to climate resilience, enhancing food systems, reducing global emissions, and combating hunger. Over $7 billion was pledged to fight climate change in the global food system, with funding promised to help farmers reduce their footprint and adapt to climate change through innovation and regenerative agriculture. The UAE partnered with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for a $200 million investment in agricultural research and innovation, especially in climate-sensitive areas, ensuring food security for vulnerable populations. The UAE also launched the Agricultural Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM for Climate) with the US, gaining support from over 600 governmental and non-governmental partners and increasing investment by more than $17 billion compared to $8 billion at COP27.

Developing the Health Sector to Address Climate Changes:

The UAE’s climate and health declaration was endorsed by 141 countries, with $2.7 billion pledged for the health sector. The global cooling commitment from 66 countries was approved, allocating $1.2 billion for relief, recovery, and peace initiatives by 78 countries and 40 organizations.

Funding Water and Sanitation Initiatives:

The conference pledged $45 million for technical and financial aspects of urban water and sanitation facilities, with $34 million from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and $11 million from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The UAE committed about $150 million for innovations addressing water scarcity, while eight multilateral development banks pledged to double the number of beneficiaries of their technical and financial support in water over the next three years.

Increasing Renewable Energy Capacity:

In the energy sector, 130 countries signed a declaration to triple renewable energy capacity and double energy efficiency, with $2.5 billion pledged for renewable energy sources and $568 million for clean energy manufacturing investments. For the first time, many oil and gas companies committed to addressing methane emissions, pledging about $1.2 billion to reduce methane emissions. The Industrial Transition Accelerator, including 35 companies and six industry associations like the World Steel Association and the International Aluminium Institute, agreed on commitments to reduce industrial emissions. The “Utilities for Net Zero Alliance” (UNEZA) was formed, led by the Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (TAQA), bringing together about 31 leading entities to support the transition to electric energy, expand clean energy use, accelerate renewable energy adoption, and develop necessary infrastructure. This alliance aims to channel capital flows into energy transition projects in the Global South and partner with policymakers and regulators to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

Adopting the Joint Declaration on Climate, Nature, and Humanity:

The COP28 joint declaration on climate, nature, and humanity was adopted by 18 countries. Thirty countries joined the “Mangrove Alliance for Climate,” launched by the UAE and Indonesia at COP27 to build global momentum for climate action, bringing the total to 37 countries representing over 60% of the world’s mangroves. Twenty-one countries formally signed the “Mangrove Development Initiative” to protect and develop 15 million hectares of mangroves worldwide by 2030 with $4 billion in funding. The Ocean Development Initiative was launched to support marine life while reducing emissions, and 86 countries joined the Global Green Economy Alliance, providing a platform to unify global efforts amid rising climate pressures and the need for integrated actions.

Consensus on Gradual Transition from Fossil Fuels:

The UAE government succeeded in finalizing the COP28 concluding statement on December 13, securing global agreement from representatives of 197 participating countries on the “UAE Climate Agreement,” which for the first time drives countries to move away from fossil fuels. The final version of the statement, in its third revised draft, called for a complete transition from fossil fuels in the current decade in a fair, organized, and equitable manner, accelerating the shift to clean energy to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The concluding document called on countries to take actions to reduce emissions, acknowledging the need for deep, rapid, and sustainable reductions in greenhouse gas emissions consistent with the 1.5 degrees Celsius target. Measures include accelerating zero and low-emission technologies, using carbon-free and low-carbon fuels before 2050, utilizing low-carbon hydrogen, and accelerating efforts to phase out coal production and use. Countries were urged to triple renewable energy capacity and double energy efficiency rates by 2030, agreed upon by 130 countries at COP28.

Key Requirements:

The UAE’s presidency of COP28 achieved remarkable success in meeting conference targets and exceeding set ambitions in international climate action. The UAE managed to include comprehensive provisions on traditional fuels for the first time, balancing development needs and climate action, breaking the climate action deadlock, and achieving international consensus among approximately 198 countries. This enhances the UAE’s global leadership in mobilizing international efforts and contributing to building a sustainable future for humanity.

It is expected that national climate plans will be revisited in 2025. Until then, these results will be evaluated through the Global Climate Conference 2024 in Qatar, requiring countries to set policies for cleaner and more efficient economies.

Challenges:

There was a consensus on the necessity of climate action and sustainability plans among all parties, but it was difficult to balance efforts of developing and developed countries to prevent economic disruptions and achieve sustainable development goals. This requires accelerating cooperation to address the world’s climate challenges.

These actions necessitate accelerating cooperation to address the world’s climate challenges. Nations need to work together to harmonize efforts, preventing economic disruptions while achieving sustainable development goals. The transition from fossil fuels and the rapid adoption of clean energy technologies are paramount. Additionally, supporting vulnerable countries in their climate action plans, ensuring fair and just transitions, and securing substantial funding for climate initiatives are essential for long-term success.

By implementing the agreed measures, nations can collectively mitigate the adverse impacts of climate change, securing a sustainable and resilient future for all.

1- The World Got Failing Grades on Climate Action. Here’s How COP28 Aims to Fix That ، 7/12/2023، scientific American, Accessible at: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-world-got-failing-grades-on-climate-action-heres-how-cop28-aims-to-fix-that/

2- COP28: These are the key talking points for the 2023 climate summit, weforum, 29/11/2023, Accessible at: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2023/11/cop28-summary-key-talking-points/

3- 700m $pledged to loss and damage fund at Cop28 covers less than 0.2% needed, the guardian, 6/12/2023, accessible at: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/dec/06/700m-pledged-to-loss-and-damage-fund-cop28-covers-less-than-02-percent-needed

4- New COP28 Draft Demands Swifter Fossil Fuel Transition, Bloomberg, 12/12/2023, accessible at:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2023-12-12/new-cop28-draft-demands-swifter-fossil-fuel-transition?leadSource=uverify%20wall

SAKHRI Mohamed
SAKHRI Mohamed

I hold a Bachelor's degree in Political Science and International Relations in addition to a Master's degree in International Security Studies. Alongside this, I have a passion for web development. During my studies, I acquired a strong understanding of fundamental political concepts and theories in international relations, security studies, and strategic studies.

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