COP28: a UN/Europe or Saudi Arabia state of play


On Wednesday, December 13, with a one-day delay from the schedule, President of COP28, Sultan Al Jabel from the United Arab Emirates, breaks into a sparkling smile after traditionally bringing the 28th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28) to a close in Dubai with the ceremonial gavel. 

After nearly two weeks, the so-called “Global Stocktaking,” the exercise that defined the state of the fight against climate change and outlined the commitments of the Parties to achieve the goal of limiting global warming to one and a half degrees, was adopted by consensus. As is often the case in these events, the result is mixed. 

The final document is the result of a compromise aimed at getting oil-exporting countries, led by Saudi Arabia, on board, despite their initial strong opposition at the beginning of the summit. The text calls for an acceleration of climate action in this critical decade to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, following the guidance of science.

It is likely a compromise that leans towards a lower ambition, attempting to reconcile positions that, in many ways, are irreconcilable. However, it could signify, albeit weakly, the beginning of the end of the fossil fuel era because, for the first time, the words “fossil fuels” are included in a final text.

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