COP 28 commits to transitioning away from fossil fuels

Logo of the COP28 in Dubai with flags of the UN member states in the background

28th Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai, © picture alliance / NurPhoto

19.12.2023 - Article

At the 28th Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai, the international community agreed for the first time to transition away from oil, gas and coal.

It was also agreed at COP28 that states parties should strive to triple renewable energy capacity globally by 2030 and double the rate of energy efficiency within the same period. By 2050, net carbon dioxide emissions should be reduced to zero. COP28 thus marked the beginning of the end of the fossil fuel era and recognised that renewables are the global solution to climate action and climate justice.

The outcome of the negotiations in detail

The agreement on the fund and on financing arrangements to deal with loss and damage caused by climate change was the first major breakthrough on the opening day of a COP. Germany pledged 100 million US dollars directly after the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the holder of the COP Presidency. More than 700 million US dollars have now been pledged in total. The fact that the UAE, which was still classified as a developing country in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1992, is now contributing to a UN climate fund for the first time is a milestone with an impact far beyond this Climate Change Conference.

In Dubai, the issue of adaptation to climate change was given greater prominence than ever before at a Climate Change Conference. The states parties agreed on a framework for the global goal on adaptation, which consolidates the pathways towards intelligent national climate change adaptation. By 2030, all countries are called upon to draw up national adaptation plans and to make progress towards their implementation. Germany is helping more than 60 countries to devise and implement national adaptation plans.

Outside the negotiations, moreover, concrete and substantial progress was achieved towards expanding renewable energies, reducing emissions and mitigating the impact of the climate crisis. Team Germany, consisting of the Federal Foreign Office, the Economic Affairs and Climate Action Ministry, the Development Ministry and the Environment Ministry, was able, along with its partners, to make a substantial contribution towards achieving progress in key international climate issues.

Here are just a few examples:

The establishment of the Climate Club at COP28 has created a political forum for global decarbonisation. The aim is to unite countries which want to make swift progress towards a low-carbon economy. The Climate Club now encompasses 37 countries and is intended to ensure that lead markets for climate-neutral industrial products are created and that a climate-neutral perspective for energy-intensive branches such as steel, building materials and the chemical industry is opened up. Germany and Chile are co-chairs.

The number of countries which have committed to phasing out coal by the end of the 2030s rose further at COP28. This Powering Past Coal Alliance now has 167 members. They include countries as well as regions, companies and organisations. With the United States, Colombia, the United Arab Emirates and Morocco, as well as six more states, the Alliance includes major countries that have undertaken for the first time to phase out coal nationally.

Germany, Japan and Namibia launched a global initiative on mutual recognition of certification schemes for hydrogen and hydrogen derivatives at the Climate Change Conference. This will markedly facilitate future cross-border trading in renewable and low-carbon hydrogen and its derivatives. The declaration of intent was signed by 36 nations, including many of Germany’s partners in the future trade in hydrogen such as Canada, the United States and Australia, as well as South Africa, India, Brazil and European partners.

COP28 made progress on a framework for reducing global methane emissions. Germany supports the International Methane Emission Observatory (IMEO), which collects and reconciles the emissions data gathered by satellites. Furthermore, the Methane Alert and Response System (MARS) was put in place. In particular, its purpose is to pinpoint super emitter events and inform the responsible states and their companies in order to stop the emissions. Methane is one of the more dangerous greenhouse gases and is 48 times as potent as CO2 when it comes to global warming.

A new Thematic Call was launched at COP28 within the framework of the International Climate Initiative (IKI). It is intended to support the global energy transition by 2030, among other things with grid expansion projects in order to make it possible to integrate more renewable energies, and in particular projects aimed at expanding renewables in Africa. Through the call, moreover, funds will be made available for climate action, climate change adaptation as well as biodiversity conservation.

Progress was made at COP28 on the Just Energy Transition Partnerships (JETPs). Viet Nam and Indonesia have presented their investment plans, while South Africa has put forward an implementation plan. These plans envisage fundamental reforms necessary for a successful energy transition that is socially just. Together with Germany and France, Senegal presented its first priority projects at COP, thus implementing the JETP agreed upon in June 2023. Along with a group of other contributors, Germany is one of the supporters of the energy transition in key emerging economies.

The Climate, Relief, Recovery and Peace Declaration calls for more climate finance and measures in countries exposed to increased risks as a result of conflicts and humanitarian emergencies. To date, it has been signed by 74 countries and 40 organisations. This includes German support for the newly created Women & Climate Security Initiative of the UN Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund, which promotes women-led climate, peace and security projects.

In the COP28 Joint Statement on Climate, Nature and People, the signatory governments undertook to carry out integrated measures to tackle the climate crisis, biodiversity loss and land degradation with the aim of fostering the synergies between the Paris Agreement and the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF).

Ten banks, including the World Bank, ADB, EBRD and IDB, agreed with German support to back long-term low emission development strategies (LTS) in future in countries of the Global South in a way that is better coordinated, more collaborative and thus more efficient. Alongside the nationally determined contributions (NDCs), these strategies map out a long-term development pathway towards climate neutrality.

At COP28, Germany made available new funds for the global Adaptation Fund. Through climate adaptation measures, this fund helps to make states more resilient to the consequences of the climate crisis, for example in the sphere of infrastructure or flood defences.

Together with 43 states, Germany acceded to the Freshwater Challenge, the aim of which is to ensure that by 2030 300,000 km of degraded rivers and 350 million hectares of wetlands are restored and freshwater ecosystems better protected.

A declaration of intent on joint cooperation in the sphere of mangrove protection and sustainable mangrove management in African states was signed with the United Arab Emirates. Since July 2023, Germany has been a member of the Mangrove Alliance for Climate (MAC) and is now supporting the Mangrove Breakthrough – an initiative aimed at protecting 15 million hectares of mangroves around the world by 2030.

In the run-up to COP28, Germany hosted the Green Climate Fund replenishment conference. Germany’s substantial pledge at the conference provided an incentive for others to follow and a record amount of pledges was achieved. The pledges made by the UK and the United States at COP28 have brought the total of available funding to 12.8 billion US dollars. These funds will be used from 2024 to 2027 to finance projects aimed at furthering climate action and the energy transition in developing countries and emerging economies, as well as helping developing countries hit especially hard by climate change to cope better with the consequences of global warming.

Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock on the conclusion of COP28:

This COP28 will change the world. With the gradual phase-out of fossil fuels, we are contributing to greater security, justice and a sustainable economy. The resolution clearly states that the days of fossil fuels are numbered, which means that anyone who can do the maths knows that investments in fossil fuels will no longer pay off in the long term. The world has decided that renewables are the global solution for greater climate action, and also for greater justice. As Team Germany, we have therefore also achieved what we have been working towards for two years, which is summarised in our climate foreign policy.

And in these geopolitical times of crisis, COP28 is proof that we are stronger together. This result is a sign of hope that multilateralism works, that we can face these major challenges together.

Many had tears of joy in their eyes – the island states, but not only them. They know that more is needed to save them. Our work will therefore continue tomorrow. We are treading the path of climate justice together, hand in hand with our partners around the world.

Economic Affairs and Climate Action Minister Robert Habeck on the conclusion of COP28:

The path to a climate-appropriate future has finally been laid out. The international community commits at COP28 for the first time to move away from all fossil fuels and to undertake a massive expansion of wind and solar energy, especially in the period up to 2030. This is a clear signal to companies, markets and investors: the energy of the future is renewable and will be used efficiently.

Despite this landmark outcome, much remains to be done so that we can truly consign the fossil era to history. As in Germany, priority must now be given to renewable energy at international level as well, and energy must be used much more efficiently. To make this happen, we need to work even more closely with our partner countries to create the conditions, remove obstacles, and make sure the financing is in place. The same goes for the orderly phase-out of all fossil energy – a big challenge for many countries. At COP28, the countries committing to a phase-out of coal included the United States, the United Arab Emirates and Morocco. Also, we have set up a broad international forum in the shape of the Climate Club in order to jointly progress solutions for the decarbonisation of industry.

COP28 shows that the Paris Agreement is having an impact, and that there is a high level of willingness to embrace change in countries, companies and other stakeholders. We now need to make use of this momentum and realise the great opportunities in the transitions.

Development Minister Svenja Schulze on the conclusion of COP28:

In these difficult times, the world urgently needed this signal of unity. The conference has succeeded in building more trust between Europe and the developing countries again. The good start of the conference, with the swift agreement on the new Loss and Damage Fund, has helped to make this possible. Since the first pledges made by the United Arab Emirates and Germany, it has also been clear that all those who are able to do so will have to contribute to the Fund: traditional industrialised countries as well as the Emirates and other emerging economies that have the necessary resources. This is an important decision for the future that will have an impact far beyond this conference.

Together with many like-minded partners from all over the world, Europe has been advocating for explicitly mentioning the urgently needed phase-out of fossil energy. The oil-producing countries in particular have put up considerable opposition against this idea. Together with our partners in developing countries, we have managed in Dubai to launch the concept of transitioning away from the use of fossil fuels towards renewable energy systems, and to adopt this by consensus. The concept recognises that phasing out fossil energy is a process which needs to be made socially just. That is precisely what we will now jointly be working for, doing everything we can. It must be clear that this transition cannot be delayed. Almost all of it must be completed within the present and the coming decade.

One important outcome of the conference is also the first-ever agreement on a comprehensive framework for adaptation to climate change. Climate change is already happening, with consequences that are sometimes dramatic. The entire world has to become better prepared for this. This, too, is an area that requires strong support for our partners in developing countries.

Federal Environment Minister Steffi Lemke on the conclusion of COP28:

At the start of the conference, I said that Dubai is about trust. We have worked hard on this over the past two weeks. Germany stepped up as a dedicated partner and bridge builder, and our efforts have paid off: the global community has rallied behind a clear commitment to implementing the Paris climate targets. The agreement that has now been reached is a good compromise, which will serve as a basis for the future. We have initiated the phase-out of fossil fuels to usher in the age of renewables.

At the same time, the decision shows that we can only reduce emissions to the level needed and adapt to the climate crisis if our natural environment is intact. For the first time, we have agreed in a final declaration to halt deforestation by 2030, prioritise the protection of terrestrial and marine ecosystems and stabilise water cycles – which is all closely linked to the goals of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework. Circular economy has also been highlighted as a solution for the first time, which is an important step forward: we must significantly reduce resource consumption! This gives us the leverage we need to combat the triple crisis of biodiversity loss, pollution and the climate crisis.

Practical implementation in Germany and around the world remains our core mission. We have the solutions. I will now do everything in my power to ensure that the agreement is implemented quickly.


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