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Final COP28 text reflects complexities of global climate action, breaks ground with new, pragmatic approach

December 13, 2023

DUBAI — COP28 negotiations came to a close today as negotiators from 198 Parties agreed to a historic final text, the UAE Consensus, which recognizes the need to transition the global energy system, advancing a wide range of clean energy solutions, and rapidly cutting methane emissions — while acknowledging the need for regionally tailored approaches that contend with economic and geopolitical realities.  

CATF Executive Director Armond Cohen said: “The world is finally beginning to reckon with the hard realities of climate change and what it will take to address it, and the proof is in the final COP28 text. For the first time, countries have explicitly recognized the need to transform our energy system away from high-emitting fossil fuels, coupled with a pragmatic approach that allows for regional flexibility — recognizing that one size will not fit all, and that each country has its own unique set of circumstances. Equally historic is the text’s first-time recognition of the wide range of tools we need in the toolkit, supporting not only a tripling of renewable energy but an acceleration of nuclear energy, carbon capture and storage, carbon removal, and low-carbon hydrogen — which are likely to be essential to meeting the full scope of the challenge.” 

Negotiators agreed to the final text after a contentious back-and-forth over language around a potential fossil fuel phase out, which pitted rich countries and small island nations against oil producing states and developing nations working to alleviate poverty and develop their own economies. 

“The final text for the first time reflects the size of the challenge and the need for multiple shots on goal,” continued Cohen. “We must move quickly and decisively toward a zero-carbon future, but we must move strategically as well. The final text also acknowledges the hard truth that climate action must contend with competing priorities like energy access, energy security, and geopolitics. While most elements of COP texts are non-binding, there is a clear victory in this outcome for those advocating for a better understanding of the climate challenge and the reality-based, pragmatic approach that it will take to meet it.” 

Outside of the negotiating room, COP28 broke new ground with major commitments around methane mitigation, nuclear energy deployment, oil and gas decarbonization, fusion energy, and more.  

  • World leaders announced a new grant funding of over $1 billion aimed at cutting methane emissions, delivering tangible implementation steps of the Global Methane Pledge 
  • More than 24 nations and 120 companies launched the Net-Zero Nuclear Initiative, committing to tripling the world’s nuclear energy capacity by 2050, with COP28 hosting the first ever nuclear Ministerial meeting and the text mentioning nuclear energy for the first time, and CATF and partners issuing a playbook for countries embarking on their nuclear energy journey as well as a set of proposed solutions to fast-track global deployment.  
  • Major international and national oil companies – responsible for more than 40% of production – came together to launch the Oil and Gas Decarbonization Charter — announcing commitments to cut methane emissions and invest in emissions abatement technologies, including laying a pathway to net-zero emissions by 2050  
  • Leaders also progressed the Carbon Management Challenge to advance carbon management technologies globally, which 20 countries are now participating in  
  • The U.S. released its finalized rules for methane mitigation from its oil and gas sector, targeting methane emissions from existing sources for the first time. 
  • Canada released its own methane rules, with funding for comprehensive leak detection and repair, a ban on venting, and $30 million to improve monitoring, reporting and verification. 
  • The U.S. launched its first fusion energy plan, aiming to develop international partnerships to advance this potentially transformative technology. 

“Both in and outside the negotiating room, COP28 marked a significant turning point on the road to a low-emissions, high-energy planet at an affordable cost,” said Lee Beck, Senior Director, Europe and the Middle East. “Leaders are getting real about the challenge at hand and beginning to propose solutions that work in the real world and for different countries, serve energy security, economic growth, and climate needs alike. The announcements recognize that when we set aside ideologies, we can look at the problem honestly and address it seriously. That being said, we need to focus on moving pledges to plans with real steel in the ground in the near-term. ” 

Press Contacts

Troy Shaheen, Communications Director, [email protected], +1 845-750-1189 

Rowan Emslie, Communications Director, Europe, [email protected], +32 476 97 36 42 

About Clean Air Task Force 

Clean Air Task Force (CATF) is a global nonprofit organization working to safeguard against the worst impacts of climate change by catalyzing the rapid development and deployment of low-carbon energy and other climate-protecting technologies. With 25 years of internationally recognized expertise on climate policy and a fierce commitment to exploring all potential solutions, CATF is a pragmatic, non-ideological advocacy group with the bold ideas needed to address climate change. CATF has offices in Boston, Washington D.C., and Brussels, with staff working virtually around the world.   

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