The conference started on a high note with the operationalization of the new loss and damage fund and swift adoption of the agendas.
However, the negotiations proved difficult, especially on the GST and the framework for implementing the Global Goal on Adaptation, among other issues.
Key points of contention included language on fossil fuel phaseout in the GST decision and references to means of implementation for the GGA.
Building on the first mentions of coal power and fossil fuel subsidies in the Glasgow Climate Pact in 2021, the outcome of the first Global Stocktake (GST) at the 2023 UN Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC COP 28) marked a step toward the “beginning of the end” of the fossil fuel era, as the UNFCCC Executive Secretary surmised, reflecting the views of many.
According to the Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) summary report of the meeting, the conference started on a high note with the operationalization of the new loss and damage fund and swift adoption of the agendas. However, the negotiations proved difficult, especially on the GST, the framework for implementing the Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA), the mitigation work programme, the work programme on just transition pathways, and matters related to Paris Agreement Article 2.1(c) on aligning finance flows with low-greenhouse gas (GHG) climate-resilient development. Key points of contention included language on fossil fuel phaseout in the GST decision and references to means of implementation for the GGA.
Among other actions aligned with limiting global warming to 1.5°C, the COP decision on the GST calls on countries to contribute to global efforts on transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems, accelerating efforts toward the phase down of unabated coal power, and accelerating renewables, nuclear, and abatement and removal technologies.
The GST, the ENB analysis of the meeting notes, “is an assessment of collective progress on mitigation, adaptation, and means of implementation meant to inform” countries as they prepare their next round of nationally determined contributions (NDCs) due in 2025. Some hoped the process would help identify clear pathways countries could then incorporate in their 2025 NDCs. However, the outcome only calls for parties to “contribute to” global efforts, taking into account their “different national circumstances, pathways and approaches.”
ENB notes that closing statements demonstrated how difficult it was to achieve compromise on the GST. Lack of a clear reference to fossil fuel phaseout, weak language on coal and methane, and the loopholes associated with so-called “transitional fuels” were among the concerns raised.
Among other outcomes of the conference, ENB highlights:
- the adoption of the framework for the GGA established in the Paris Agreement, which aims to guide the implementation of the goal and, among other things, establishes impact, vulnerability, and risk assessment (by 2030), multi-hazard early warning systems (by 2027), climate information services for risk reduction and systematic observation (by 2027), and country-driven, gender-responsive, participatory, and transparent national adaptation plans (by 2030);
- the designation of the consortium of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) as the host of the Santiago Network on loss and damage; and
- the launch of the implementation of the work programme on just transition pathways, with at least two hybrid dialogues to held prior to the two annual sessions of the Subsidiary Bodies.
The 2023 UN Climate Change Conference convened in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), from 30 November to 13 December 2023, closing 23 hours later than originally scheduled. The conference comprised the 28th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UNFCCC, the 18th meeting of the COP serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 18), the fifth session of the COP serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA 5), and the 59th sessions of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA 59) and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI 59).
With 97,372 people registered for on-site attendance, COP 28 “was by far the largest UN climate change conference to date,” ENB reports. [ENB Coverage of 2023 UN Climate Change Conference]