COP28: World Agrees to Historic Climate Deal


COP28: World Agrees to Historic Climate Deal
© Getty Images News/Fadel Dawod

After two weeks of intense and often fraught negotiations at the COP28 summit in Dubai, the world has reached a consensus on a new climate deal, marking a significant moment in international climate policy. This agreement, known as the Global Stocktake, represents the first time that explicit language on transitioning away from fossil fuels has been included in such a pact.

COP28 President Sultan Al Jaber hailed the agreement as “historic” in his address to national delegates, emphasizing its potential to redefine global economies. The road to this agreement was not easy, with extended discussions pushing the summit into overtime.

Delegates were deeply divided over the role of oil, gas, and coal in the future, reflecting the varied interests and perspectives of participating countries. Despite these challenges, the inclusion of language on fossil fuels in the final agreement was seen as a breakthrough by many.

Loopholes and Divergent Views

However, the agreement has been met with mixed reactions. While some countries and observers view it as signaling the end of the fossil fuel era, others, including more ambitious nations and climate advocates, argue that it falls short of what is necessary to address the climate crisis effectively.

Jean Su, the energy justice director at the Center for Biological Diversity, acknowledged the significance of the agreement but warned of "cavernous loopholes" that could undermine its impact. One key point of contention is the agreement’s phrasing.

It stops short of explicitly requiring a “phase-out” of oil, coal, and gas, a position supported by over 100 countries and many climate groups. Instead, the agreement offers broader language, urging countries to "contribute" to reducing carbon pollution in ways they see fit, which includes transitioning away from fossil fuels to achieve net zero by 2050.

The conference also highlighted the deep divisions within the global community, with oil-producing nations like Saudi Arabia opposing more stringent language on phasing out fossil fuels. Despite these disagreements, many Western nations regard the deal as a success and a testament to the efficacy of multilateral diplomacy.

US climate envoy John Kerry expressed a tempered optimism about the agreement, recognizing its limitations but also celebrating its strengths.

“All of us can find a paragraph or sentences, or sections, where we would have said it differently,” he said, but he also noted the significance of having "as strong a document as has been put together."