The UN climate conference, COP28, ended in Dubai with an agreement that – for the first time – nearly 200 countries will transition away from fossil fuels to get to net zero by 2050. The agreement calls for by tripling renewable capacity over the next decade, reducing the use of coal more quickly, and investing in carbon capture technology. Sultan Al Jaber, president of COP28, called it “historic.”
“Our task was to build on the foundations that others have laid for us,” he said as the conference ended. “And I tell you, what we have built together will stand the test of time.”
But many wanted stronger language promising the “phasing out” of fossil fuels. Others called out loopholes in the non-binding deal, like allowing for the use of “transition” fuels like fracked gas.
Here are some stories on critical issues at COP28, held in the United Arab Emirates.
For the first time, health was a focus at the conference, including “Health Day” on December 3. The Allegheny Front’s Kara Holsopple spoke with reporter Alejandra Borunda who covers health and climate at NPR, and followed COP28 closely. She said now over 140 countries have signed on to a Declaration on Climate and Health.
“It’s a really big step forward to show the world and the leadership at COP that the climate community and the health community are aligned, and that they see this very clear connection,” Borunda said.
Listen to their conversation:
Climate Disaster Relief
A framework was developed to create an international loss and damage fund, as reported by The Energy Mix. A total of more than $400 million was pledged by countries including UAE, Germany, the United Kingdom and Japan. The US pledged $17.5 million.
The money supports recovery after climate-related disasters and provides funding to mitigate climate change in developing countries that are most impacted by global warming but have contributed less to the problem over the last decades.
Food and Agriculture
Grist reports that food was a major topic coming out of COP28, as about “130 countries signed a declaration on Friday (Dec. 1) saying that the world must transform its food systems, the source of one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions.”
For many, that means reducing meat consumption. In advance of a day devoted to food and agriculture later at the conference, the UN released a roadmap for agriculture to keep people fed and reduce pollution in food production.
Critics say it fails to address a reduction of chemical fertilizers and methane emissions from the industrial livestock industry.
The oceans play an important role as a carbon sink for the world’s planet-warming CO2 emissions, so how did they fare at this year’s UN climate negotiations? Mongabay reports that the planet’s oceans received more consideration than in previous international climate discussions. But while the final agreement “referred to the importance of protecting and preserving the ocean and coastal ecosystems,” there are no specific commitments tied to it. Others worry about relying too heavily on oceans to fix the carbon problem instead of finding different solutions.