Non-Binding Pact Acknowledges Move Away from Fossil Fuels
Negotiators at the 28th Convention of the Parties (COP28) to the United Nations Framework Convention of Climate Change, held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), produced a document of agreement on December 13 (Dubai time) following a 24-hour flurry of last-minute negotiations.
The symbolism of a meeting led by Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, the Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and CEO of the UAE’s state oil company, shaped media coverage of the gathering, as did the event’s floated target: locking down a commitment to phasing out all fossil fuels.
The resulting document broke new ground in wording, but contained no legally binding enforcement mechanism to spur action on fossil fuel phaseouts.
Bloomberg’s Green Daily described the pact as a “call to transition energy systems away from fossil fuels—the first time oil and gas had been included in a COP agreement,” and credited its wording for winning over “those demanding strong action” as well as oil producers and developing countries who favored the freedom to chart their own course to net zero.
COP28 President Al Jaber declared, “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.”
Despite receiving a standing ovation from attendees from nearly 200 nations ("parties" are those signee nations to the UN’s 1992 climate agreement), reactions to what Al Jaber has called “The UAE Consensus” have been mixed. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said, "It is good news for the whole world that we now have a multilateral agreement to accelerate emission reductions towards net zero by 2050, with urgent action in this critical decade."
Dr. Ella Gilbert, of the British Antarctic Survey said, “The COP28 agreement finally puts into words what scientists have been saying for decades—that continued fossil fuel use must be eliminated to avoid the worst consequences of climate change.”
Gilbert added, however, that “[Though] this eleventh-hour intervention is welcome, it will not be strong enough to avoid the worst impacts, including ice loss from the polar regions and devastating extreme events.”