Wednesday 13 December 2023, Dubai (United Arab Emirates)

The COP28 outcome fails key tests on the fast, fair, funded and full phase-out of fossil fuels that the world needs now to avert climate catastrophe. As delegates applaud the “UAE Consensus” struck at the 28th UN climate summit, Friends of the Earth Africa and International is dismayed at the enormous loopholes which only serve to prolong the fossil fuel era.

“The COP28 deal has fallen short of delivering meaningful commitments on fossil fuel phaseout and urgently needed climate finance. The deal opens the door to dangerous distractions that will prevent a just and equitable energy transition– carbon capture utilisation and storage, hydrogen, nuclear, carbon removal technologies like geoengineering and schemes that commodify nature. And, there is nothing that would stop hundreds of millions of tonnes of offsets being considered as ‘abatement’,” explained Sara Shaw, FoEI.

The outcome is weak on equity as it does not properly differentiate between developed and developing countries’ role in the transition away from fossil fuels – despite their differing historical responsibility for emissions. It has a global renewable energy target, but no money to make it happen.

“The energy transition cannot be just, equitable, or fair if it isn’t funded. Developed countries who are responsible for historical emissions must not only take the lead in emission reductions but also provide the adequate climate finance that is needed in developing countries. The so-called just transition put on the table here won’t deliver the long-term transformation that is needed in my country Nigeria and across Africa” says Ubrei Joe Maimoni , CJE coordinator for Friends of the Earth Africa.

Sara Shaw deepening the discussion went on to say Developed countries may blame larger developing countries (such as India, China and the COP28 host) for the weakening of the fossil fuel text, but rich countries like the US, UK and EU are the biggest historical polluters, all with huge fossil fuel expansion plans. They have failed to provide adequate climate finance needed for emissions reductions, adaptation, and loss and damage in developing countries – at this summit, and for decades before. They must not posture as climate champions.

The Loss and Damage fund was made operational at the start of COP28, but huge questions remain about its accessibility, given it will be hosted by the World Bank. Pledges made in Dubai fall far below what is needed – just $700 million when, for example, the devastating 2022 Pakistan floods were estimated to have caused $30-40 billion damage.(1)

“As expected, we’ve seen the wealthiest countries shirking their dues at this COP. Without money and means of implementation, the places worst hit by climate change are left with only empty pockets and empty promises. We need trillions of dollars, we’ve been given peanuts, and even more debt to boot,” warned Bareesh Chowdhury, Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers’ Association (FoE Bangladesh).

Over 2400 fossil fuel lobbyists were present at the summit (2), which was characterised by a strong crackdown on peoples’ voices, both inside the UNFCCC and in the national context.(3)

“While COP28 rolled out the red carpet for polluters, activists faced censorship of our calls for just outcomes for people. Climate justice is impossible without respect of human rights, and we will not be silenced, for as long as bombs rain on Gaza and Palestine remains occupied, as long as corporations raze indigenous lands and those in power deem the people on the frontlines of the climate crisis as disposable,” stated Lise Masson, FoEI.
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We are still waiting for an outcome on Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, on carbon markets, and may make further comment.

(1) Figures from the Pakistan Climate Change Council. See article: Flood Losses Now Estimated at $40 Billion: Pakistan Officials 40-billion-pakistan-officals-say
(2) Figures from the Kick Big Polluters Out (KBPO) coalition. See press release: Record number of fossil fuel lobbyists at COP28 nd-cop28
(3) While all eyes were on COP28, the host country cracked down on dissidents. See article: UAE holds mass trial as it steps up crackdown on dissent during COP28