Dubai deal: Ministers and observers react to the UAE consensus

The final Cop28 text was regarded as historic by delegates, including the US, EU and small islands, but most agree there’s still work ahead

cop28 ministers greeting in plenary in Dubai

Delegates during the Closing Plenary at the UN Climate Change Conference COP28 at Expo City Dubai on December 13, 2023, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Photo: COP28 / Christophe Viseux)


Negotiators arrived in a good mood on Wednesday morning to the final Cop28 plenary in Dubai. At around 11 am, they adopted the final text of the global stocktake, in what delegates regarded as a historic moment.

The final text for the first time mentions all fossil fuels, “calling on” parties to “transition away from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly and equitable manner”.

Most delegates were satisfied with the result, with no country opposing the text in the final plenary. Vulnerable nations and some observers had mixed feelings.

No ‘phase-out’, but Dubai deal puts oil and gas sector on notice

EU: Beginning of the end of fossil fuels

EU chief negotiator Wopke Hoekstra told a press huddle outside the plenary that the global stocktake text, the main outcome from Cop28, was “truly consequential” and the “beginning of the end of fossil fuels”.

Aosis: Litany of loopholes

Anne Rasmussen, representing the alliance of small island states (Aosis), told the plenary:

“In terms of safeguarding 1.5C in a meaningful way, the language is certainly a step forward, it speaks to transitioning away from fossil fuels in a way the process has not done before. But we must note the text does not speak specifically to fossil fuel phase-out and mitigation in a way that is in fact the step change that is needed. It is incremental and not transformational.

“We see a litany of loopholes in this text that are a major concern to us.”

US: Strong messages

US climate envoy John Kerry told the plenary:

“While nobody here will see their views completely reflected in a consensus document of so many nations, the fact is that this document sends very strong messages to the world.

“First, the document highlights that we have to adhere to keep 1.5C within reach. That is the North star. We therefore must do those things necessary to keep 1.5C. Everything we can to achieve this goal.

“In particular it states that our next [national climate plans] will be aligned with limiting warming to 1.5C. I think everyone has to agree this is much stronger and clearer as a call on 1.5C than we have ever heard before.”

Saudi Arabia: Silence

UAE: Different sort of Cop

Cop28 president Sultan Al Jaber told the final plenary in Dubai:

“It is an enhanced, balanced, but make no mistake historic package to accelerate climate action. It is the ‘UAE Consensus’. Many said this could not be done.

“But when I spoke to you at the very start of Cop, I promised a different sort of Cop. A Cop that brought everyone together, private and public sectors, civil society and faith leaders, youth and indigenous peoples. Everyone came together from day one. Everyone united, acted and delivered.”

France: Still work ahead

French minister for energy transition Agnès Pannier-Runacher told reporters outside the plenary:

“We need to be very cautious and to report and make sure that every country improves their [national climate plans] and that, at the same time, we are going to put the money on the field so that developing countries can do their own transitions and adaptations. That is what is at stake today — how will the finance come to the most vulnerable countries?”

India: Outcomes backed by finance

Indian minister for environment, forest and climate change Bhupender Yadav said in a statement:

“India urges that the determination shown at Cop is also substantiated with means to bring it to fruition. This must be based on the principles of equity and climate justice, which is respectful of national circumstances, and where the developed countries take the lead based on their historical contributions.”

Least developed countries: We expected more

Madeleine Diouf Sarr, head of climate change at the ministry of environment of Senegal and chair of the least developed countries group, said in a statement:

“This outcome is not perfect, we expected more. It reflects the very lowest possible ambition that we could accept rather than what we know, according to the best available science, is necessary to urgently address the climate crisis.”

“Next year will be critical in deciding the new climate finance goal, which must be informed by this global stocktake, and must close the vast gaps that have been identified. To respond to the global stocktake, the new goal must reflect the full needs of our countries to address climate change, including the costs to mitigate, to adapt, and to address loss and damage.”

Colombia: Gas colonising decarbonisation

Colombian environment minister Susana Muhamad told the plenary:

“Loopholes (in the final text) have risks and the risks can undermine the political will. The transition fuels could end up colonising the space of decarbonisation. Right now, in the financial segment of the text, we don’t have still the economic structure required for this deep transition — which is not only an energy transition but is fundamentally a whole-of-society economic transition.”

Germany: Multilateralism delivers

German state secretary and special envoy for international climate action Jennifer Morgan said in a statement:

“Today the world adopted a historic decision that is strongly guided by the 1.5C limit. There is an unmistakable signal that the future is renewables and not fossil fuels. For the first time, countries made the decision to transition away from fossil fuels, accelerating action in this critical decade.

“Today we showed that multilateralism delivers. Tomorrow we drive these decisions forward. We must be fast. We must be deliberate, with ambition and solidarity for climate justice.”

Bolivia: Rich nations must step up

Bolivian chief negotiator Diego Pacheco told the plenary:

“We cannot support outcomes that mean that the world will enter a new era of implementation of the Paris Agreement without equity, without common but differentiated responsibilities, without a differentiation between developed and developing countries and without means of implementation and concrete financing for developing countries.

Developed countries have not decided to take the initiative of leading the fight against the climate crisis and this is jeopardising the lives of people in our part of the world. We say a great deal about 1.5C and science, but developed countries that have plans to expand their fossil fuels going up to 2050 are running counter to science itself, the very science they talk about.”

UN chief: Progress gathering pace

UN secretary general Antonio Guterres told the Cop28 plenary:

“For the first time, the outcome recognizes the need to transition away from fossil fuels – after many years in which the discussion of this issue was blocked. ”

“To those who opposed a clear reference to a phase out of fossil fuels in the COP28 text, I want to say that a fossil fuel phase out is inevitable whether they like it or not. Let’s hope it doesn’t come too late.

Of course, timelines, pathways and targets will differ for countries at different levels of development. But all efforts must be consistent with achieving global net zero by 2050 and preserving the 1.5 degree goal. And developing countries must be supported every step of the way.”

WRI: More finance needed

Ani Dasgupta, president and CEO, World Resources Institute said in a statement:

“Fossil fuels finally faced a reckoning at the UN climate negotiations after three decades of dodging the spotlight. This historic outcome marks the beginning of the end of the fossil fuel era. Despite immense pressure from oil and gas interests, high ambition countries courageously stood their ground and sealed the fate of fossil fuels.

“Now a critical test is whether far more finance is mobilized for developing countries to help make the energy transition possible.”

Climate Action Network: Marred by loopholes

Harjeet Singh, head of global political strategy at Climate Action Network International said in a statement:

“After decades of evasion, Cop28 finally cast a glaring spotlight on the real culprits of the climate crisis: fossil fuels. A long-overdue direction to move away from coal, oil, and gas has been set. Yet, the resolution is marred by loopholes that offer the fossil fuel industry numerous escape routes, relying on unproven, unsafe technologies.

The hypocrisy of wealthy nations, particularly the USA, as they continue to expand fossil fuel operations massively while merely paying lip service to the green transition, stands exposed.”

OPEC: oil and gas have critical role

Mohamed Hamel, Secretary General for the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF), and Haitham Al Ghais, Secretary General for OPEC said in a statement:

“The oil and gas industry will play a constructive and critical role in sustainable development and poverty eradication, while contributing to a just, orderly and inclusive energy transitions, in particular through enhancing efficiencies and developing and deploying advanced technologies, such as carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS). They stressed that continued investment in oil and natural gas is essential to meet future demand and ensure global market stability.”

Power Shift Africa: Genie is out of the bottle

Mohamed Adow, Director of Power Shift Africa, said in a statement:

For the first time in three decades of climate negotiations, the words ‘fossil fuels’ have made it into a Cop outcome. We are finally naming the elephant in the room. The genie is never going back into the bottle. Future Cops will only turn the screw even more on dirty energy.”

“Finance is where the whole energy transition plan will stand or fall. We also need much more financial support to help vulnerable people in some of the poorest countries to adapt to the impacts of climate breakdown.”

CEEW: Disappointed on all fronts

Dr Arunabha Ghosh, CEO of the Delhi-based Council on Energy, Environment and Water, said in a statement:

“This Cop has largely disappointed on all fronts. It hasn’t sufficiently raised climate ambition, held historical polluters accountable, or established effective mechanisms to finance climate resilience and a just low-carbon transition for the global south.

“While the operationalisation of the loss and damage fund on the first day marked a noteworthy success, subsequent developments revealed a discordant trajectory. The global stocktake’s final text lacked the candid acknowledgment of problems and the teeth required to fight them.”

350: Partial win for people power

May Boeve, executive director of activist network, said in a statement:

“People power has propelled us to the doorstep of history but leaders have stopped short of entering the future we need.

“It is frustrating that thirty years of campaigning managed to get ‘transition away from fossil fuels’ in the Cop text, but it is surrounded by so many loopholes that it has been rendered weak and ineffectual.”

Climate Analytics: Weak energy package

Bill Hare, climate scientist and CEO of Climate Analytics, said in a statement:

“The energy section is weak and simply doesn’t have enough hard commitments to bring the 1.5C warming limit within reach this decade, and there’s no commitment to peak emissions by 2025. The goal of tripling renewables and doubling of efficiency is very welcome, but will need hard work to implement.“The agreement opens the doors to false solutions like carbon capture and storage at scale, and the reference to transition fuels is code for gas, which is absolutely not a transitional fuel. This has been promoted by LNG and fossil gas exporters.”

Read more on: Cop28 | | |