COP28 reaches landmark consensus on saying goodbye to fossil fuels, now the EU must commit to concrete phase out dates and increased climate financing.

The recently concluded COP28 was host to a substantial surge in attendance with over 65’000 attendees and guests meeting in Dubai in November – an 80% increase from last years COP27. This increase signals that concern from invested industry is reaching new heights as the inevitable Green Transition makes digging up fossil fuels less and less profitable. The conference did however feature a paradoxical dynamic, revealing the influence of fossil fuel lobbies on the COP Presidency and national governments while simultaneously reaching consensus to move away from fossil fuels. The presence of 2400 lobbyists promoting fossil fuels was largely cited as a significant challenge, with a 400% increase from the previous COP, yet this number must be seen in parallel with the overall increase in attendees.

Although the COP28 outcome signalled a consensus to move away from fossil fuels, critics argue that it falls short in providing the necessary scale, clarity, and speed to address the climate emergency. The EU’s role is crucial, and while the final text supports fossil fuel phase-out, concerns persist about the lack of solidarity and financial commitments to support vulnerable regions and the energy transition. The responsibility now lies with the EU to translate COP28 outcomes into ambitious domestic actions, aligning with science and setting concrete deadlines for phasing out coal, gas, and oil.

Funding climate mitigation, adaptation, and loss and damage emerged as a contentious issue, with a focus on just energy transition. Developed countries, including the EU, faced criticism for failing to meet the $100 billion per year climate finance goal by 2020 and not delivering strong commitments to adaptation finance. The establishment of the Loss and Damage Fund received initial pledges, but contributions were deemed insufficient, and concerns were raised about funding sources and the fund’s governance.

Negotiations on the New Collective Quantified Goal for climate finance faced challenges, resulting in a procedural outcome for 2024. The EU’s opposition to a loss and damage sub-target and the lack of specific commitments raised concerns. Attention now turns to COP29 for designing a robust climate finance goal with sub-goals for mitigation, adaptation, and loss and damage.

The Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA) lacked tangible global targets and effective commitments, with calls for developed countries to report on doubling their provision to developing countries. Despite weaknesses, the GGA and Global Stocktake (GST) processes are seen as opportunities to address adaptation finance gaps, urging the EU to engage urgently.

In summary, COP28 highlighted the ongoing struggle between fossil fuel interests and global climate action. While progress was made in some areas, concerns about financial commitments, fossil fuel phase-out, and adaptation persist, with the EU facing scrutiny for its role and responsibilities in achieving climate goals.

Next June, join us in holding the EU accountable through showing up to vote in the European Parliament elections – the only institution in the EU where we as citizens have the opportunity to elect our representatives. Let’s show our politicians that they will be judged not only on their promises but on their actions when it comes to climate and the just transition.

Photo: Sofia Farina. Words: Liz Mc Auley