Litany of loopholes in COP28 text

The text reached by nations at the COP28 summit in Dubai after intense negotiations has been met with fierce criticism.

For the first time this deal, known as the Global Stocktake Agreement, directly addresses the use of fossil fuels, a key demand from many countries at this year’s talks.

It calls on countries to “transition away” from fossil fuels “in this critical decade”.

However, the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), a bloc of 39 countries, released a statement which says it is concerned about “a litany of loopholes”:

“Our world’s window to keeping 1.5 alive is rapidly closing, and we feel the text does not provide the necessary balance to strengthen global action for course correction on climate change.”

“AOISIS has been very clear that the global stocktake must be the vehicle for delivery of course correction, yet it sputters in significant areas. 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 phaseout 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… we do not see any commitment or even an invitation for parties to peak emissions by 2025. We [see] reference to the science throughout the text but then we refrain from an agreement to take the relevant action in order to act in line with what the science says we have to do. It is not enough for us to reference the science and then make agreements that ignore what the science is telling us we need to do.”

Not all commentators were so negative. The agreement reached on the COP 28 climate summit could speed up the transition to a cleaner and healthier economy and keep the world on track to meet the climate goals of the Paris Agreement, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (pic) said.

“It is good news for the whole world that we now have a multilateral agreement to accelerate emission reductions towards net zero by 2050, with urgent action in this critical decade,” von der Leyen said in a statement.

“The world has committed to tripling renewable energy capacity and doubling the rate of energy efficiency improvements by 2030. This gives powerful momentum to the transition away from fossil fuels.”

COP28 President Sultan Al Jaber (above pic) called the deal “historic” but added that its true success would be in its implementation.

“We are what we do, not what we say,” he told the crowded plenary at the summit. “We must take the steps necessary to turn this agreement into tangible actions.”

Several countries cheered the deal for accomplishing something elusive in decades of climate talks.

“It is the first time that the world unites around such a clear text on the need to transition away from fossil fuels,” said Norway Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide.