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Historic deal struck at Cop28 to ‘transition away’ from fossil fuels

  • Al Jaber hails ‘paradigm shift’
  • Resistance from some GCC states
  • Saudi Arabia praises outcome

The Cop28 climate summit in Dubai concluded with the adoption of a landmark agreement urging countries to “transition away” from coal, oil, and gas this decade.

This wording replaced the previously proposed “phase out” language that was a central point of contention throughout the talks. 

It marks the first time in Cop’s 30-year history that countries have collectively agreed to shift away from fossil fuels. They currently make up about 80 percent of global energy consumption and are the largest source of warming emissions.

Cop28 president Sultan Al Jaber said during his closing speech on Wednesday that the agreement “confronted realities and set the world in the right direction” and “delivered a paradigm shift that has the potential to redefine our economies”.

“It is a balanced plan that tackles emissions, bridges the gap on adaptation, reimagines global finance and delivers on loss and damage,” Al Jaber said.

“It is built on common ground,” he said. “Our country has shown that we can deliver on the global stage for the benefit of the planet and its people. We have helped restore faith and trust in multilateralism.”

Cop28 president Sultan Al Jaber and Cop28 director general Majid Al Suwaidi at the Closing Plenary sessionCop28/Christopher Pike
Cop28 president Sultan Al Jaber and Cop28 director general Majid Al Suwaidi

The UN’s climate body released the fifth iteration of the global stocktake text early on Wednesday morning after negotiations ran over the Tuesday deadline.

The revised text introduced more palatable changes in language and accountability, while acknowledging the need for differentiated climate action pathways.

It encourages states to submit economy-wide nationally determined contributions, and includes a new specific target to treble renewables and double energy efficiency by 2030.

The text specifically calls for “transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly and equitable manner … so as to achieve net zero by 2050 in keeping with the science”.

This substitutes the previous reference to “reducing both consumption and production” of fossil fuels that was met with strong resistance from oil producers including Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Oman and China. 

A Saudi representative at Cop28 told Reuters the kingdom welcomes the deal and praised the outcome.

The global stocktake reflects a non-binding consensus of nearly 200 countries gathered at the climate conference in Dubai.

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