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The COP28 Climate Summit has reached a significant agreement to shift away from the use of fossil fuels. This deal is being hailed as a historic moment.
Middle East Science & Health

The COP28 Climate Summit has reached a significant agreement to shift away from the use of fossil fuels. This deal is being hailed as a historic moment.

On Wednesday, at the COP28 climate summit in Dubai, almost 200 nations agreed to a deal that aims to shift away from using fossil fuels. Supporters believe this marks the end of the oil era, but some countries are not content with the wording of the agreement.

The agreement requires a shift towards renewable energy sources in a fair and organized way, with the goal of reaching net zero emissions by 2050 in accordance with scientific evidence.

The plan also requires a threefold increase in renewable energy production worldwide by the year 2030, expediting measures to decrease reliance on coal, and hastening the development of techniques like carbon capture and storage.

The President of COP28, Sultan al-Jaber, who is also the leader of the United Arab Emirates’ government-owned oil company, stated that the agreement could prevent global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. This was the target set at the Paris climate summit in 2015. It has been warned by scientists that surpassing this threshold could lead to irreversible and increasingly catastrophic effects of climate change.

“The COP28 agreement, according to al-Jaber, is a science-based plan that addresses emissions, addresses the gap in adaptation, reconsiders global finance, and fulfills commitments on loss and damage.”

He described the agreement as “historic” but noted that its true achievement would depend on how it is carried out. Al-Jaber stated to delegates in Dubai that our actions, not our words, define us. He emphasized the importance of taking necessary measures to transform this agreement into concrete actions.

Several countries, such as the United States and China – the top two producers of greenhouse gases – expressed their approval of the agreement following two weeks of intense negotiations.

John Kerry, the U.S. climate envoy, expressed his satisfaction that amidst the conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East and the numerous difficulties faced by our planet, there has been a moment of unity through multilateralism where individuals have worked towards a shared goal rather than solely pursuing their own interests. He shared this sentiment with delegates on Wednesday.

Nevertheless, over 100 nations, primarily European countries, had advocated for more forceful wording to completely eliminate the use of fossil fuels.

The OPEC cartel, led by representatives from Saudi Arabia, strongly opposed their efforts, arguing that the world can reduce emissions without avoiding specific fuels.

Some delegates, particularly those from small island states that are highly susceptible to the effects of rising sea levels in a heating planet, expressed disapproval over this.

“The chair of the Alliance of Small Island States, Anne Rasmussen, expressed that while progress has been made, it is not enough. What is truly necessary is a significant and rapid transformation in our actions and support.”

Activists hold placards during a protest, at the COP28 United Nations Climate Conference in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Dec. 6, 2023.

On December 6, 2023, protesters at the COP28 United Nations Climate Conference in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, displayed signs to express their activism.

Numerous activists for addressing climate change expressed dissatisfaction with the agreement, stating that it lacks strength. Jean Su from the Center for Biological Diversity in Arizona commented, “While it is encouraging that the world is now acknowledging the issue of fossil fuels after nearly thirty years of avoidance, the revised text also contains significant loopholes that will permit the oil and gas industry to persist.”

The loopholes consist of employing carbon capture technology, which eliminates a portion of carbon dioxide emissions produced by the combustion of greenhouse gases.

Some areas have this technology, but its effectiveness has not been verified on a large enough scale to support the continued use of fossil fuels. This statement was made by Ruth Townend, a research fellow at Chatham House’s Environment and Society Program.

Researchers suggest a reduction of 43% in greenhouse gas emissions within the next six years is necessary to achieve the goal of keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels.

According to Townend, switching to renewable energy is a more viable option than attempting to remove carbon from the air. We have a clear understanding of what needs to be done, and governments must prioritize finding economically and politically feasible solutions to commit to and implement this transition quickly.

In addition to the commitment to move away from non-renewable energy sources, the COP28 conference successfully established a fund for loss and damage, with nearly $800 million pledged during the event.

According to Professor Michael Jacobs from the ODI research group in London, the recently established fund provides financial support to the world’s most impoverished and climate-vulnerable countries to help them recover from the economic losses and damages caused by natural disasters like hurricanes, floods, and fires.

“Several wealthier nations have contributed funds to this initiative. However, they must follow through on their commitment. While it is currently a pledge, such promises are typically fulfilled in due time. This has been a long-standing desire of the less affluent countries,” stated Jacobs in an interview with VOA.

During COP28, a new process called the ‘global stocktake’ was introduced, where countries evaluate their advancement towards meeting the objectives of the Paris Climate Change Agreement every five years. According to Teresa Anderson, who heads climate justice research at the international non-profit organization ActionAid, the outcome of COP28 is that the world is still far from reaching its goals.

According to Anderson in an interview with VOA, the United Nations’ global stocktake report is alarming and clearly states that we are not making progress in saving ourselves. This raises the question of what steps we need to take in light of this information. Is it time for us to recognize the need for significant and immediate action? If not, we risk pushing the planet to its limits.

This report was contributed to by Dale Gavlak.