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COP28: “Earth is down but not out” as countries agree to transition away from fossil fuels

DUBAI - In a significant moment for global climate action, countries at the COP28 UN climate summit have agreed to transition away from fossil fuels, but fail to commit to a full phase out.

Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, WWF Global Climate and Energy Lead, and COP20 President, said:  “The Earth is down but not out, as countries agree to transition away from fossil fuels, but fall short of consensus on the full phase out of coal, oil and gas at COP28. Nevertheless, a decision to transition away from fossil fuels is a significant moment. After three decades of UN climate negotiations, countries have at last shifted the focus to the polluting fossil fuels driving the climate crisis. This outcome signals the beginning of the end for the fossil fuel era.

​“It is unfortunate that the outcome suggests a role for dangerous distractions such as large-scale carbon capture utilization and storage and ‘transitional fuels’. For a liveable planet we still  need a full phase out of all fossil fuels and will continue working towards that​“, Pulgar-Vidal added.

The Global Stocktake is clear that eight years on from the Paris Agreement, we are still way off course to limit global warming to 1.5°C and avert the worst impacts of the climate crisis. In this critical decade, all countries must enhance the ambition and implementation of climate action. It is vital that countries work now to transform their energy systems and replace polluting fossil fuels with clean and cheaper renewable energy, such as wind and solar, at an unprecedented speed and scale.

Stephen Cornelius, WWF Deputy Global Climate and Energy Lead, said: “Finance is key to unlocking climate action. The early decision to operationalize the Loss and Damage Fund was a critical step. The many pledges we have heard at COP28, while welcome, are a drop in the ocean compared to what is needed. The funding pot will now need to grow by orders of magnitude to adequately help people in harm's way. The need for loss and damage and adaptation funding will only continue to rise rapidly if countries do not invest more in cutting emissions and phasing out polluting fossil fuels.”

Fernanda Carvalho, WWF Global Climate and Energy Policy Lead, said: “Along with phasing out fossil fuels, nature is integral to effective climate action. It is disappointing to see countries not including the recommendation by the IPCC to protect 30 to 50% of all ecosystems. This should have been the moment where countries committed to tackle the climate and nature emergencies in parallel. Action to restore nature and transform food systems is vital to reduce emissions and build greater resilience to rising temperatures. While countries again recognized the importance of nature-based solutions, we should have seen ambition on combined climate-nature action increasing, particularly in the wake of the landmark Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework agreed this time last year.” 

Read more about key takeaways from COP28 here.
© COP28

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