United Nations Climate Change Conference commits to a transition away from fossil fuels

Flagge mit COP28-Logo vor blauem Himmel
At COP28 in Dubai, the global community agreed for the first time to move away from oil, gas and coal. Other goals agreed include tripling global renewable energy capacity and doubling the rate of energy efficiency by 2030.

At the 28th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP28) in Dubai, the international community committed for the first time to transitioning away from oil, gas and coal. Other goals agreed at COP28 include tripling global renewable energy capacity and doubling the rate of energy efficiency by 2030. Net zero carbon dioxide emissions are to be achieved by 2050. With these commitments, COP28 heralded the end of the fossil era and acknowledged that renewable energies are the means of combatting climate change and achieving climate justice throughout the world.

Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock on the conclusion of COP28: "This COP28 will change the world. With the gradual phase-out of fossil fuels, we are contributing to greater security, justice and a sustainable economy. The resolution clearly states that the days of fossil fuels are numbered, which means that anyone who can do the maths knows that investments in fossil fuels will no longer pay off in the long term. The world has decided that renewables are the global solution for greater climate action, and also for greater justice. As Team Germany, we have therefore also achieved what we have been working towards for two years, as summarised in our climate foreign policy. And in these times of geopolitical crisis, COP28 is proof that we are stronger together. This result is a sign of hope that multilateralism works, that we can face these major challenges together. Many had tears of joy in their eyes – the island states, but not only them. They know that more is needed to save them. Our work will therefore continue tomorrow. We are treading the path of climate justice together, hand in hand with our partners around the world."

Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate, Robert Habeck, commented on the conclusion of COP28: "The path to a climate-appropriate future has finally been laid out. At COP28, the international community committed for the first time to move away from all fossil fuels and to undertake a massive expansion of wind and solar energy, especially in the period up to 2030. This is a clear signal to companies, markets and investors: the energy of the future is renewable and will be used efficiently. Despite this landmark outcome, much remains to be done so that we can truly consign the fossil era to history. As in Germany, priority must now be given to renewable energy at international level as well, and energy must be used much more efficiently. To make this happen, we need to work even more closely with our partner countries to create the necessary conditions, remove obstacles, and make sure the financing is in place. The same goes for the orderly phase-out of all fossil energy – a big challenge for many countries. At COP28, the countries committing to a phase-out of coal included the United States, the United Arab Emirates and Morocco. Also, we have set up a broad international forum in the shape of the Climate Club in order to jointly progress solutions for the decarbonisation of industry. COP28 shows that the Paris Agreement is having an impact, and that there is a high level of willingness to embrace change in countries, companies and other stakeholders. We now need to make use of this momentum and realise the great opportunities in the transitions."

Federal Environment Minister Steffi Lemke commented on the conclusion of COP 28: "At the start of the conference, I said that Dubai is about trust. We have worked hard on this over the past two weeks. Germany stepped up as a dedicated partner and bridge builder, and our efforts have paid off: the global community has rallied behind a clear commitment to implementing the Paris climate targets. The agreement that has now been reached is a good compromise, which we will build on further. We have initiated the phase-out of fossil fuels to usher in the age of renewables. At the same time, the decision shows that we can only achieve the necessary emissions reduction and adapt to the climate crisis if our natural environment is intact. For the first time, we have agreed in a final declaration to halt deforestation by 2030, prioritise the protection of terrestrial and marine ecosystems and stabilise water cycles – all closely linked to the goals of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework. Circular economy has also been highlighted as a solution for the first time, which is an important step forward: we must significantly reduce resource consumption. This gives us the leverage we need to combat the triple crisis of biodiversity loss, pollution and the climate crisis. Practical implementation in Germany and around the world remains our core mission. We have the solutions. I will now do everything in my power to ensure that these solutions are implemented quickly."

Commenting on the close of COP28, Federal Development Minister Svenja Schulze noted: "In these difficult times, the world urgently needed this signal of unity. The conference has succeeded in building more trust between Europe and the developing countries again. The good start of the conference, with the swift agreement on the new Loss and Damage Fund, has helped to make this possible. Since the first pledges made by the United Arab Emirates and Germany, it has also been clear that all those who are able to do so will have to contribute to the Fund: traditional industrialised countries as well as the Emirates and other emerging economies that have the necessary resources. This is an important decision for the future that will have an impact far beyond this conference. Together with many like-minded partners from all over the world, Europe has been advocating for explicitly mentioning the urgently needed phase-out of fossil energy. The oil-producing countries in particular have put up considerable opposition against this idea. Together with our partners in developing countries, we have managed in Dubai to launch the concept of transitioning away from the use of fossil fuels towards renewable energy systems, and to adopt this by consensus. The concept recognises that phasing out fossil energy is a process which needs to be made socially just. That is precisely what we will now jointly be working for, doing everything we can. It must be clear that this transition cannot be delayed. Almost all of it must be completed within the present and the coming decade. One important outcome of the conference is also the first-ever agreement on a comprehensive framework for adaptation to climate change. Climate change is already happening, with consequences that are sometimes dramatic. The entire world has to become better prepared for this. This, too, is an area that requires strong support for our partners in developing countries."

Further outcomes of the negotiations

COP28 was the first climate conference to achieve a major breakthrough on the first day, with the agreement on the fund for responding to loss and damage arising from climate change. Following COP President the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Germany also pledged 100 million US dollars to the fund. Total pledges are now in excess of 700 million US dollars. The fact that the UAE, which in 1992 was classed as a developing country in the Framework Convention on Climate Change, is now a donor to a UN climate fund, is a landmark event with an impact well beyond COP28.

In Dubai, adaptation to climate change was given greater precedence than ever before at a Climate Change Conference. The Parties agreed on a framework for the global goal on adaptation that strengthens the pathways towards intelligent adaptation at national level. By 2030, all countries are called on to develop national adaptation plans and move forward on implementing them. Germany is supporting more than 60 countries in developing and implementing their national adaptation plans.

Moreover, on the margins of the negotiations tangible and solid progress was achieved on advancing the expansion of renewable energies, reducing emissions and cushioning the impacts of the climate crisis. Together with its partners, Team Germany – made up of representatives from the Federal Foreign Office, the Federal Economic Affairs and Climate Ministry, the Federal Development Ministry and the Federal Environment Ministry – made substantial contributions on these topics and achieved progress on key global climate issues.

Results on the margins of the negotiations

The launch of the Climate Club at COP28 created a political forum for decarbonisation worldwide. It aims to unite countries that want to make swift progress along the road to a carbon-free industry. The Climate Club currently has 37 members. It aims to create lead markets for climate-neutral industrial products and open up climate-neutral prospects for energy-intensive sectors such as the steel, building materials and chemicals industries. The Climate Club is chaired by Germany and Chile.

The number of countries that have pledged to phase out coal by the 2030s rose further at COP28. The Powering Past Coal Alliance now has 167 members. These include countries, regions, companies and organisations. For the first time, large countries like the United States, Colombia, the United Arab Emirates, Morocco and six others have committed to a national coal phase-out.

At COP28, Germany, Japan and Namibia launched a global initiative for mutual recognition of certification schemes for hydrogen and hydrogen derivatives. This will simplify transboundary trade in renewable and low-carbon hydrogen and its derivatives significantly. The Hydrogen Declaration of Intent was signed by 36 countries, including many of Germany’s future trade partners in hydrogen, such as Canada, the United States, Australia, South Africa, India, Brazil and European partners.

COP28 established the conditions needed for global methane emission reduction. Germany supports the International Methane Emissions Observatory (IMEO), which collects and consolidates satellite data on emissions. The Methane Alert and Response System (MARS) was also set up. Its main focus is detecting super emitter events and notifying the responsible countries and their companies, so that these emissions can be halted. Methane is one of the more dangerous greenhouse gases, contributing 48 times more to atmospheric warming than CO2.

At COP28, a new thematic call under the International Climate Initiative (IKI) was announced. Its aims include supporting the global energy transition by 2030, for instance with grid expansion projects to integrate more renewable energies, focussing particularly on expanding renewables in Africa. Funding for climate action, climate adaptation and biodiversity conservation will also be made available through this call.

COP28 saw progress on the Just Energy Transition Partnerships (JETP). Vietnam and Indonesia submitted their investment plans and South Africa presented an implementation plan. These plans contain fundamental reforms that are needed for a successful energy transition and socially just transformation. Together with Germany and France, Senegal also presented priority projects for implementing the JETP agreed in June 2023. Germany and a group of other donor countries are among the supporters of the energy transition in important emerging economies.

The Climate, Relief, Recovery and Peace Declaration is committed to improving climate finance and measures in countries which are additionally threatened by conflict and humanitarian needs. To date, the declaration has been signed by 74 countries and 40 organisations. It includes German support for the recently launched Women & Climate Security Initiative of the UN Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund, which supports women-led climate, peace and security projects.

In the COP28 Joint Statement on Climate, Nature and People, the signatory governments commit to integrated measures on the climate crisis, biodiversity loss and land degradation. The aim is to promote synergies between the Paris Agreement and the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) With German support, ten banks, among them the World Bank, ADB, EBRD and IDB, agreed to make their support for long-term low emission development strategies (LTS) in the countries of the Global South more efficient by improving coordination and division of work. Like the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), the LTS map out the long-term development pathway to climate neutrality.

At COP28, Germany announced new funding for the Global Adaptation Fund. This fund finances climate change adaptation measures to make countries more resilient to the impacts of the climate crisis. Measures include infrastructure projects and flood control.

Alongside 43 other countries, Germany joined the Freshwater Challenge, which aims to restore 300,000 kilometres of degraded rivers and 350 million hectares of wetlands by 2030, and improve protection of freshwater ecosystems.

Germany signed a Joint Declaration of Intent with the United Arab Emirates to collaborate on the protection, restoration and sustainable management of mangroves in African countries. Germany has been a member of the Mangrove Alliance for Climate (MAC) since July 2023 and now also supports the Mangrove Breakthrough, an initiative seeking to secure the future of 15 million hectares of mangroves globally by 2030.

Already in the run-up to COP28, as the host of the replenishment conference for the Green Climate Fund (GFC), Germany’s own substantial pledge convinced others to contribute, achieving a record level of funding. The pledges made by the United Kingdom and the United States at COP28 brings GFC funding to a total of 12.8 billion US dollars. The money will be used from 2024 to 2027 to fund projects which advance climate action and the energy transition in developing and emerging economies and help give particularly vulnerable developing countries the support they need to better deal with the impacts of global warming.

13.12.2023 | Press release No. 191/23 | International
Joint press release by the Federal Foreign Office, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection

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