The 2023 Conference of the Parties (COP28) concluded in New York City, marking a critical milestone in the global fight against climate change. COP28 conclusion and highlights include approving a groundbreaking “loss and damage” fund. However, the conference was not without controversy, particularly concerning the transition away from fossil fuels.
A major point of contention at COP28 was the agreement on transitioning away from fossil fuels. The initial discussions and debates highlighted the complexities and differing viewpoints among the participating countries. Amid these deliberations, COP28’s conclusion became a focal point, especially when the Global Stocktake agreement, finalized on Wednesday after an additional day of intense negotiations, marked a significant shift. This agreement deviated from an initial draft that had caused an uproar among participants due to the omission of the phrases “phase down” or “phase out” fossil fuels, which more than half of the 200 attending countries had previously supported.
The final text managed to secure a majority consensus to include language urging countries to “transition away” from fossil fuels. However, critics argue that the terminology is ambiguous, leaving room for varied interpretations. The absence of explicit “phase-out” language is a missed opportunity to send a clear, definitive global message about a complete shift away from fossil fuels.
Harjeet Singh, head of global political strategy at Climate Action Network International, expressed concerns about the resolution, stating, “The resolution is marred by loopholes that offer the fossil fuel industry numerous escape routes, relying on unproven, unsafe technologies.”
Despite the agreement marking a significant step forward, experts caution that the deal’s details may need to be revised, potentially undermining its effectiveness in curbing global carbon emissions.
The conference opened positively with the approval of a “loss and damage” fund, initially proposed at COP27 in Egypt the previous year. The fund aims to support vulnerable communities and developing nations grappling with the aftermath of climate disasters, such as crop destruction caused by floods.
While the fund’s approval is a step in the right direction, criticism has been directed at developed nations for insufficient financial commitments. Several countries pledged a total of $700 million, falling significantly short of the estimated $400 billion in damages caused by climate change each year. In September, a coalition of developing countries had urged for at least $100 billion to be committed to the fund, emphasizing the urgent need for robust financial support to address climate-related losses and damages.
The conclusion of COP28 highlights both progress and ongoing challenges in the global effort to combat climate change. The debates surrounding fossil fuel transitions and financial commitments will likely fuel discussions leading to future climate conferences as nations grapple with the imperative to accelerate climate action.