COP28 president Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber (C) and United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Executive Secretary Simon Stiell (L) and other officials attend a plenary session during the United Nations climate summit in Dubai on December 13, 2023. Nations adopted the first ever UN climate deal that calls for the world to transition away from fossil fuels. "We have the basis to make transformational change happen," Jaber said at the COP28 before the deal was adopted by consensus, prompting delegates to rise and applaud. LEHTIKUVA / AFP

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The United Nations Climate Conference COP28, hosted in Dubai, concluded with a crucial agreement on the phasing out of fossil fuels, marking a significant stride towards addressing climate change. However, the conference, which went into overtime due to challenging negotiations, ended with concerns about the fragility of meeting the critical 1.5-degree warming target. This calls for urgent and substantial actions, particularly from major economies.

The COP28, a pivotal event for the Global Stocktake of the Paris Agreement, began with high expectations. It aimed to assess necessary actions to limit climate warming to 1.5 degrees. One of the key achievements of the conference was a historic decision, heavily debated until the final moments, to initiate a global transition away from fossil fuels. The final agreement calls for an acceleration of this transition within the current decade, aligning with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recommendation to reduce global emissions by 43% by 2030.

Kai Mykkänen, the Minister of Climate and the Environment, highlighted the significance of this agreement, describing it as a powerful message to industries to shift investments towards clean energy production. “The text concerning fossil fuels is the strongest formulation that could be reached at this Conference. This is an important step towards a decarbonized world,” Mykkänen stated.

In a notable decision, the countries committed to tripling renewable energy production and doubling energy efficiency by 2030. The agreement acknowledges all forms of clean energy in the energy transition, including nuclear power, which Mykkänen emphasized as crucial for eliminating fossil fuels.

Despite initial reservations, the final text was seen as a substantial improvement over earlier proposals. The EU, alongside other countries advocating ambitious climate policies, played a significant role in shaping the final agreement. Marjo Nummelin, Finland's Chief Negotiator, noted the global support for rapid and effective climate actions, particularly significant as the decision was made in the United Arab Emirates, a major oil producer.

The conference also reached an agreement on a more detailed definition of the global goal on adaptation, which will guide progress tracking in the coming years. Additionally, on the first day of the conference, a consensus was achieved on the Climate Loss and Damage Fund, which has already accumulated over USD 700 million.

Looking ahead, the next UN Climate Conference, COP29, will be held in Baku, Azerbaijan. A primary focus of this upcoming meeting will be climate finance, with the objective of setting a new quantitative climate finance target applicable to all parties.