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COP 28 has come to a close. Focus on fossil fuels agreed to ‘proceed with divestment’

COP28, the UN conference on climate change measures held in the United Arab Emirates, closed on 13 January and agreed to “move forward with divestment” on fossil fuels, which had been the focus of the conference. The future policy of each country on fossil fuels will be questioned.

On the first day of COP28, which opened on 30 June last month, concrete rules were decided on the operation of a new fund dedicated to climate change damage ‘loss and damage’, as well as the first ‘global stocktake’ to assess progress on climate change measures across the world.

Fossil fuels were the main focus of the negotiations to strengthen measures, with developed Western countries and island nations strongly calling for a ‘phase-out’, while oil-producing countries and others opposed the idea, making the talks difficult. The agreement adopted by the countries on 13 November, which extended the session by one day, does not refer to a ‘phase-out’, but states that ‘we will advance our transition away from fossil fuels and accelerate our actions during this important decade’.

The 2021 conference on fossil fuels had agreed to phase out coal-fired power stations where no emission reduction measures had been taken, but at this conference, the countries agreed to move forward with divestment from all fossil fuels, including coal, oil and natural gas.

The Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Mr Still, emphasised the achievement at a press conference, stating that, although the agreement did not bring an end to the era of fossil fuels, it marks the beginning of the end of fossil fuels. Countries are supposed to submit new reduction targets by 2025 at the latest in response to the agreed documents, and their future policies will be tested.

In order to limit the increase in the global average temperature from pre-industrial times to 1.5°C, greenhouse gas emissions need to be reduced by 43% by 2030 and 60% by 2035, compared to 2019, according to the agreement.

It was also agreed to triple global renewable energy generation capacity by 2030, to double the global average rate of improvement in energy efficiency, and to accelerate efforts to phase out coal-fired power generation, where no emission reduction measures have been taken. Subsidies for inefficient fossil fuels will be phased out as soon as possible.

In addition, concrete rules were agreed on the operation of a new fund dedicated to climate change damage ‘loss and damage’, including targeting particularly vulnerable developing countries. So far, a total of USD 792 million (about 115 billion Japanese yen) has been pledged to the fund.

In an interview with the press, Japanese Minister of the Environment Ito said that the Japanese Government would describe the agreement to move away from fossil fuels as a ‘transition’, and added: “We recognise that it is very important that a document referring to the transition away from fossil fuels has been agreed. We believe that this is consistent with our country’s policy, as we are working on the transition from an industrial and social structure centred on fossil fuels to one centred on clean energy”.

Translated with (free version)