The 28th UN annual climate summit, COP28, which commenced on November 30, 2023, has come to an end.
The summit, held in Dubai, can boast of certain wins. For instance, the loss and damage deal was approved on the first day of the summit.
While ending the meeting, COP28 President, Sultan Al Jaber lauded the landmark declaration, approved this morning.
The deal calls for transitioning away from fossil fuels, instead of a phase out.
Al Jaber described the agreement as a “true victory” of unity, solidarity and collaboration.
“This is a true victory for those who are sincere and genuine in helping address this global climate challenge. This is a true victory for those who are pragmatic, results-oriented and led by the science.”Sultan Al Jaber
His comments collide with reactions from scientists who have praised parts of the UAE consensus but criticized its vague, weak and caveated language on fossil fuels, which are the main cause of climate change.
Leading climate scientists at the University of Exeter have reacted to the agreement.
Mike O’Sullivan stated that COP is meant to be the vehicle for solutions, but all it seems to do is recognise problems that the rest of the world identified years ago. “It’s obvious to most people that limiting global warming meant reduced fossil fuel use, but only now do our leaders say this,” he said.
“But so what? Where are the real global plans for the energy transition, without relying on fanciful tech solutions, with adequate support for poorer nations? Where is the global leadership to take the right action, not the selfish action? Across the globe, there are plans to expand fossil production – how does this fit with the text that’s just been agreed?
“It’s clear what we need: the wealthiest in society should pay for the transition.”Mike O’Sullivan
Also, Raphaelle Haywood said, “The final report from COP28 is disappointing, but it does not change reality: we need to phase out fossil fuels now regardless of the words on the page.”
“The era of fossil fuels is over,” Haywood asserted.
“Suffocating” for Developing Countries
Meanwhile, parts of the agreement are not so favourable to developing countries.
The delegate from Nigeria said some of the outcomes could be “suffocating” for developing countries if they are not provided help to transition, such as money and technology.
The delegate added, “The developed countries need to be more forthcoming in providing support to developing countries like Nigeria.”
In addition, the delegate from Ghana criticised the text for setting a timeline on fossil fuels but staying vague on the sources of other greenhouse gases – in particular, the expectations it would create for developing countries.
“I don’t think there’s fairness there,” the delegate noted.
Moreso, Professor Gulcin Ozkan of King’s College London, opined that the final declaration falls short on many levels.
“First, it is vague with no timeframe, hence the process can potentially take a very long time. Second, there is no clear commitment regarding financial support to the less developed countries in their transition. Finally, and surprisingly, there is no mention of a net zero target for methane emissions.”Professor Gulcin Ozkan
Dr. Emma Lawrance of Imperial College London, also noted that the COP negotiations “are ultimately negotiating human health and wellbeing – mental and physical.”
However, Lawrance added, “unless developed countries lead the way in delivering emission cuts and the fair funding structures other countries need to act, the cost of inaction will be lives, and quality of life.”