COP28 Approves UAE Consensus for Phase-Out of Fossil Fuels

Factory pollution
Updated Published

The COP28 summit, culminating on December 12th in Dubai, marked a significant milestone with the adoption of the UAE Consensus, a groundbreaking agreement aimed at phasing out fossil fuels. This decision, achieved after prolonged debates and controversies, addresses the imperative of limiting fossil fuel usage, particularly in energy systems, in a fair, organized, and equitable manner. 

The consensus emphasizes expediting actions in the current decade to attain net-zero emissions by 2050 in alignment with scientific recommendations. Additionally, the agreement underscores the importance of discontinuing inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that fail to address energy poverty or facilitate just transitions.

The primary commitments within the finalized text include:

  • An unprecedented commitment to transition away from all fossil fuels to achieve global net-zero emissions by 2050.
  • Advancements in expectations for the next round of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) by endorsing "economy-wide emission reduction targets."
  • Momentum behind financial architecture reform, acknowledging the role of credit rating agencies for the first time and calling for an increase in concessional and grant finance.
  • A specific target to triple renewables and double energy efficiency by 2030.
  • Recognition of the necessity to significantly increase adaptation finance beyond doubling to meet urgent and evolving needs.

This marks the first time in history that the term "fossil fuels" has been directly addressed, making the consensus truly historic. Notably, not all nations supported this decision, especially those whose economies heavily rely on fossil fuels. 

The COP was marked by tension between the imperative to limit global temperature rise to the 1.5°C goal and nations seeking to protect their economic interests by supporting fossil fuels, leading to extended talks and the summit going into overtime.

Despite opposing efforts, COP28 ultimately decided on the phased reduction of fossil fuels to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and their associated impacts. COP28 President Sultan al-Jaber praised the "historic package" as a crucial step in accelerating global climate action.