Almost 200 countries have adopted the first global stocktake with no objection to transition away from fossil fuels at the closing plenary of the 28th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Wednesday.

The aim of the global stocktake is to help nations align their national climate plans with the 2015 Paris Agreement, which calls to limit warming to 1.5 celsius. COP28, which commenced on Nov 30 and was scheduled to conclude yesterday, went into overtime after a draft global stocktake text late on Monday night angered groups of developed countries, the European Union, and island nations that insisted on a commitment for rapid phase-out of all fossil fuels.

COP28 President Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, upon gaveling through the agreement, expressed gratitude to all the nations that worked very hard to secure a better future for the people and the planet. “We should be proud of our historic achievements. My country, UAE, is proud of its role in helping you move forward.”

“We have delivered a comprehensive response to the global stocktake and delivered a robust action plan to keep 1.5 celsius in reach. “It is a balanced plan that addresses emissions… it is built on common ground. It is strengthened by full inclusivity. It is a historic package to accelerate climate action. It is the UAE consensus,” he said.

UN Climate Change executive-Secretary, Simon Stiell said at every stage, climate action must drive action side by side with human development and dignity. “They are a climate action lifeline, not a finish line. Governments need to turn it into real economy outcomes without delay.

“Beginning of the end for fossil fuels. All parties must agree on every word, every comma, every full stop. Indeed, it underscores how much these UN conferences can achieve.

“We must get on with the job of putting the Paris agreement to full work,” he said.

He said in early 2025, countries must deliver new Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and must bring it into alignment with a 1.5 celsius world and keep working to improve the process. “Without these conferences we would be headed for five degrees. We are currently headed for three degrees,” he said.

NDCs are where countries set targets for mitigating the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change and for adapting to climate impacts.

Meanwhile, United States climate change envoy John Kerry said the global stocktake is a document that reflects two years of work by all parties from every part of the globe.

“While nobody here will see their views completely reflected, the fact is that this document sends a very strong signal to the world.

“We have to adhere to keeping 1.5 Celsius in reach. In particular, it states that our next NDCs will be aligned with 1.5 Celsius. It reflects what the science says, we have to urgently peak greenhouse gas emissions and have them fall,” he said. He also marked the historical nature of the reference to fossil fuels.

“For the first time in the history of our regime, the decision calls for transitioning away for fossil fuels to achieve net zero by 2050.

“We would have liked clearer language about the need to begin peaking. We would know this was a compromise between parties,” he said. German News Agency (dpa) reported that on Wednesday morning, the 21-page global stocktake text was published called on countries to move away from fossil fuels in their energy system, which does not include the clear phase-out of coal, oil and gas demanded by many countries.

More than one hundred states had previously called for a complete phase-out. It also includes the goal of tripling the capacity of renewable energies by 2030 and doubling the pace of energy efficiency during this period. The G20 countries have already committed to this.

On Monday evening, the climate conference presidency published a draft text that triggered a storm of protest from many states, who criticised it as being too weak in terms of climate protection. Germany and the EU labelled it unacceptable.

This story was originally published in bernama.com with the support of Climate Tracker’s COP28 Climate Justice Reporting Fellowship.

About the author of this article
Soon Li Wei

Li Wei is a bilingual journalist at the Malaysia National News Agency (BERNAMA). She writes about science and the environment in English and Malay. With an insatiable thirst for knowledge, Li Wei continually enhances her journalistic skills by actively participating in various online and in-person workshops.