COP28 — many a slippery slope ahead – COP28 in Dubai: A Mixed Bag of Progress and Regrets | 15 December 2023 | UPSC Daily Editorial Analysis

Please Share with maximum friends to support the Initiative.

What's the article about?

  • It talks about the recently concluded COP 28, Dubai.


  • GS3: Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment


  • COP28 in Dubai, a crucial event expected to address the climate crisis through a global stocktake, ultimately fell short of expectations. While recognizing the urgency of reducing emissions and achieving the 1.5°C Paris Agreement goal, the final outcome leaves much to be desired.
  • This analysis delves into the key issues at COP28, highlighting the disappointing outcome and its implications for the global fight against climate change.

What are COPs?

  • COP stands for Conference of the Parties. It's the annual global gathering where nearly 200 countries, under the umbrella of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), come together to discuss and negotiate how to tackle the pressing issue of climate change.

COP28: This year's COP, held from November 30 to December 12, 2023, focused on several key themes, including:

  • The urgent need to move away from fossil fuels: For the first time ever, a COP agreement explicitly mentioned the need to transition away from all fossil fuels, marking a significant shift in global discourse.
  • Scaling up finance for climate action: Developed countries agreed to double their financial support to developing countries by 2025, a crucial step towards ensuring equitable and effective climate action.
  • Addressing the loss and damage caused by climate change: A new Loss and Damage Fund was established to provide financial assistance to vulnerable countries already suffering from the impacts of climate change, such as extreme weather events and sea level rise.
  • Achievements:
    • The “UAE Consensus” document, adopted at the close of the conference, represents a major step forward in the global fight against climate change. It calls for a rapid transition away from fossil fuels, increased climate finance, and enhanced support for adaptation and loss and damage.
    • The establishment of the Loss and Damage Fund provides a much-needed source of support for vulnerable countries already bearing the brunt of climate change impacts.
    • The agreement to double climate finance for developing countries by 2025 signals a renewed commitment to global cooperation and solidarity in addressing the climate crisis.
  • Challenges:
    • The specificity of the “UAE Consensus” remains unclear. While it mentions the need to move away from fossil fuels, it does not set concrete targets or timelines for doing so.
    • The gap between ambition and action persists. Even with the increased financial commitments, there is still a significant funding shortfall to meet the needs of developing countries.
    • The issue of equity and justice must be addressed more effectively. Developed countries, which are historically responsible for the majority of greenhouse gas emissions, need to do more to support developing countries in their transition to a low-carbon future.


Key Takeaways:

  • COP28 achieved little beyond recording a vague commitment to transition away from fossil fuels and acknowledging the need for higher emissions reductions.
  • A roadmap for new targets in 2025 was not established.
  • Financial assistance for developing countries remained inadequate.
  • The Global Goal on Adaptation was left incomplete.
  • The fossil fuel industry and developed countries secured favorable outcomes.
  • Fossil Fuels Take Center Stage:
    • For the first time ever, fossil fuels, the primary driver of climate change, were at the forefront of discussions. This was unsurprising given the COP's location in the oil-rich Gulf region, and the fact that the COP President, Sultan Al Jaber, heads one of the world's largest oil and gas producers. However, his claim that there was no scientific need to cut back on fossil fuels raised concerns about industry influence.
  • Hopes and Disappointments:
    • The global stocktake reports echoed the urgency of rapid emissions reductions, with targets of 43% by 2030 and 60% by 2035 compared to 2019 levels. However, the subsequent draft texts met with mixed reactions. The initial draft lacked concrete measures on phasing out fossil fuels, while the second draft, offering only vague options, was deemed a “death sentence” by small island states and a betrayal of the 1.5°C goal by the European Union.
  • A Controversial Compromise:
    • After intense negotiations, a final draft emerged on the last day. It included a call for “transitioning away” from fossil fuels, a phrase interpreted by some as a signal of the industry's eventual demise. However, this relief overshadowed other serious shortcomings.
  • Loopholes and Lacunae:
    • The final draft contained several loopholes that could prolong fossil fuel use and benefit the industry. Terms like “low-carbon fuels” and “transitional fuels” remained loosely defined, potentially allowing continued reliance on fossil fuels under the guise of cleaner alternatives. Carbon capture and storage, a technology of uncertain effectiveness, also received undue attention.
  • Financial Support Remains a Challenge:
    • Developed countries failed to increase their financial support to developing nations struggling with climate impacts. The draft acknowledged the shortfall in the $100 billion per year commitment made in 2020, but offered no new targets for scaling up assistance. This left climate-vulnerable countries deeply disappointed.
  • A Rushed Conclusion:
    • The closing plenary was held just hours after the final draft was published, leaving delegations little time for discussion. Despite the rushed process, the draft was adopted without major objections. This highlights the tendency at climate COPs to prioritize closure over substantive progress.
  • Disquiet and Dissatisfaction:
    • Post-COP, voices of discontent emerged. Small island states and African countries expressed their dissatisfaction with the weak measures on fossil fuels and lack of financial support. The COP28 Declaration ultimately fell short of expectations.

Way Forward:

  • Despite the mixed bag of results, COP28 served as a stark reminder of the urgency and complexity of tackling climate change. The international community must work together to translate good intentions into concrete actions, ensuring a just and equitable transition to a low-carbon future.

Please Share with maximum friends to support the Initiative.

Download the Samajho App

Join 5 lakh+ students in downloading PDF Notes for 2000+ Topics relevant for UPSC Civil Services Exam. &nbsp Samajho Android App: Samajho iOS App: &nbsp Samajho IAS Youtube Channel (300K+ Subscribers):