View From India | Did COP28 fail the world?

December 18, 2023 03:57 pm | Updated December 19, 2023 10:15 am IST

(This article forms a part of the View From India newsletter curated by The Hindu’s foreign affairs experts. To get the newsletter in your inbox every Monday, subscribe here.)

Nations took a small but decisive step towards ridding the world of fossil fuels, after negotiators in Dubai on December 13 adopted a resolution, called the Dubai Consensus. The standout clause in the 196 paragraphs of this 21-page text, The Hindu’s Jacob Koshy reports , is the one that “calls on Parties [to be] ...Transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly and equitable manner, accelerating action in this critical decade, to achieve net zero by 2050 in keeping with the science.”

But did COP28 achieve enough? As Koshy writes, language of “transitioning” has been diluted from earlier drafts that had called for an actual “phase-out” of all fossil fuels. Creating a path to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 is humanity’s best shot at keeping global temperatures from rising beyond 1.5 degrees C by the end of the century, according to assessments by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The post-COP28 reality is that despite this looming threat – and indeed, adverse climate events that are getting ever more frequent – nothing in the agreement suggests the end of fossil fuels is near. While the meet did yield numerous – and worthwhile – pledges (more on those below), the one big takeaway, as Koshy writes in this Explainer, is that fossil fuels are going to be the mainstay of economies everywhere in the years to come.

If the lack of timelines and the absence of a sense of urgency come as a disappointment to those expecting more from COP28, there were a number of other pledges that will hold significance especially for developing countries. We broke down what some of those commitments are here, including:

  • A “loss and damage” fund to help vulnerable countries cope with the increasingly costly and damaging impacts of climate disasters, which reached around $792 million dollars in pledges during the talks (that still fell short of the $100 billion a year that developing nations have said is needed to cover losses from natural disasters and rising seas).
  • The Green Climate Fund, focused on supporting developing countries in their climate action, saw a boost of $3.5 billion to its second replenishment, with a $3 billion promise from the United States.
  • One hundred and thirty-two countries committed to tripling renewable energy capacity worldwide by 2030 and doubling the annual rate of energy efficiency improvements.
  • More than 20 countries led by the U.S. called for the tripling of the world’s nuclear energy capacity by 2050.

More In-Depth Coverage on COP28:

COP28 and India: Is climate fatigue setting in, asks Suhasini Haidar.

Ford Mustangs at COP28: The belief that only more wealth can help us buy our way out of the crisis has gained greater ground, writes Jacob Koshy.

The Top Five

What we are reading – the best of The Hindu’s Opinion and Analysis

  1. A Quad meeting planned for January as well as U.S. President Joe Biden’s in-the-works visit that would see him attend India’s January 26 Republic Day celebrations as the chief guest, have been put off. The announcement comes, writes Suhasini Haidar, at an awkward time in Indo-U.S. relations even if officials have cited scheduling difficulties, only days after the indictment in New York of an Indian national in an assassination plot allegedly directed by a senior Indian intelligence official against wanted Khalistani separatist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun.
  2. We looked at India’s voting last week in favour of a United Nations General Assembly resolution that called on Israel for an immediate ceasefire, the protection of civilians in accordance with international law and the release of all hostages. India was among 153 countries that made up a massive 4/5th majority in the Assembly who voted in favour of the resolution, where only 10 countries, including the U.S. and Israel, voted against the resolution, and 23 countries, mainly from Europe abstained.
  3. The Israel-Hamas war has opened a new front in the Red Sea, which will impact Asian economies, writes Kabir Taneja.
  4. It has been six months since Ukraine launched its much-anticipated counteroffensive with advanced weapons and training provided by the West. Has it failed, and is Russia now gaining the upper hand, asks Stanly Johny.
  5. Barry Rodgers on how Baghdadi Jews with ties to India are preserving their culinary history.
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