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The window to cap global warming at 1.5°C is rapidly narrowing, with the devastating impacts of record-breaking temperatures and extreme weather events intensifying daily.

This year’s UN Climate Change Conference (COP 28) in Dubai was a pivotal moment for strategic decisions and meaningful outcomes to avoid the catastrophic consequences of climate change.

Taking place from November 30 to December 12, this COP saw the conclusion of the inaugural global stocktake under the Paris Agreement, capping a 2-year process with intensive technical work, expert submissions, and more. This was a critical opportunity to assess progress across the globe in achieving the Paris Agreement's objectives on mitigation, adaptation, and means of implementation and support.

The global stocktake was one of the headline items of this year's COP. But it was far from the only item on the agenda—all eyes were also on the highly anticipated Global Goal on Adaptation, as well as how negotiators addressed the need to phase out fossil fuels, among other issues in the COP 28 outcome documents.

IISD's Earth Negotiations Bulletin Reporting On-Site

For over 30 years, Earth Negotiations Bulletin has provided authoritative, in-depth reporting on United Nations negotiations involving the environment and development. Our reporters covered each day of the talks in Dubai, explaining what happened and what it meant for climate action.

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While the 28th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 28) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) did not finish on time, as the COP 28 President had hoped, this edition was “only” 23 hours late. For the climate negotiations, this is not a terrible score. And considering where things stood on Tuesday, 12 December, these few hours made a significant difference in securing a successful outcome.

Parties adopted a decision on the first Global Stocktake under the Paris Agreement, which recognizes the need for deep, rapid, and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in line with 1.5°C pathways. It encourages parties to come forward in their next nationally determined contributions with ambitious, economy-wide emission reduction targets, covering all GHGs, sectors and categories and aligned with limiting global warming to 1.5°C.

Among other things, the decision also calls on parties to contribute, in a nationally determined manner, to global efforts on:

  • tripling renewable energy capacity globally and doubling the global average annual rate of energy efficiency improvements by 2030;
  • accelerating efforts towards the phase down of unabated coal power;
  • accelerating efforts globally towards net zero emission energy systems, utilizing zero- and low-carbon fuels well before or by around mid-century;
  • transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly, and equitable manner, accelerating action in this critical decade, so as to achieve net zero by 2050 in keeping with the science;
  • accelerating zero- and low-emission technologies, including, inter alia, renewables, nuclear, abatement and removal technologies such as carbon capture and utilization and storage, particularly in hard-to-abate sectors, and low-carbon hydrogen production;
  • accelerating and substantially reducing non-carbon-dioxide emissions globally, including in particular methane emissions by 2030;
  • accelerating the reduction of emissions from road transport on a range of pathways, including through development of infrastructure and rapid deployment of zero and low-emission vehicles; and
  • phasing out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that do not address energy poverty or just transitions, as soon as possible.

Closing statements showcased how difficult it was to reach this compromise. Many denounced the lack of a clear reference to fossil fuel phase out, weak language on coal and methane, and the risks associated with so-called transitional fuels, which the decision says “can play a role in facilitating the energy transition while ensuring energy security.” Others found the reference to these specific global efforts too prescriptive and underscored the bottom-up and nationally-determined nature of the Paris Agreement.

Parties also adopted the framework for the Global Goal on Adaptation, launched the implementation of the work programme on just transition pathways, and adopted a number of other decisions.

President Al Jaber welcomed the outcome as a “victory for multilateralism” and a sign of solidarity and collaboration. He called the meeting a “historic turning point” that puts 1.5°C back in reach and gavelled COP 28 to a close at 5:11 pm.

To dig deeper into the discussions at COP 28, read the full Earth Negotiations Bulletin daily report.

Need to Know: What to watch at COP 28

Our COP 28 Experts

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Nathalie Bernasconi-Osterwalder

Vice-President, Global Strategies and Managing Director, Europe

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Anne Hammill

Associate Vice-President, Resilience

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Philip Gass

Director, Energy Program, Just Transitions and Canada

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Alec Crawford

Director, Nature for Resilience

Angie Daze, Senior Policy Advisor and Lead, Gender Equality

Angie Dazé

Director, Gender Equality and Social Inclusion for Resilience

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Lynn Wagner

Senior Director, Tracking Progress

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Anna Ackermann

Policy Analyst, Green Reconstruction of Ukraine

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Jennifer Allan

Writer/Editor, Earth Negotiations Bulletin

Jennifer Bansard

Jennifer Bansard

Writer, Earth Negotiations Bulletin

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Christopher Beaton

Director, Energy Program, Public Financial Flows

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Emilie Beauchamp

Lead, Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning for Adaptation to Climate Change

Olivier Bois von Kursk, IISD Policy Analyst

Olivier Bois von Kursk

Policy Advisor

Aia Brnic

Aia Brnic

Communications Manager

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Liesbeth Casier

Lead, Public Procurement and Sustainable Infrastructure and Coordinator of the NBI Global Resource Centre

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Aurélie Ceinos

Senior Policy Advisor, Gender Equality and Social Inclusion

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Julie Dekens

Principal Researcher

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Nichole Dusyk

Senior Policy Advisor and Lead, Canada Energy

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Siddharth Goel

Lead

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Orville Grey

Head of Secretariat, NAP Global Network

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David Hoffmann

Coordinator, NAP Global Network

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Natalie Jones

Policy Advisor

Jonas Kuehl

Jonas Kuehl

Policy Advisor

Tara Laan

Tara Laan

Senior Associate

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Christian Ledwell

Knowledge Manager, NAP Global Network

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Mauricio Luna-Rodríguez

Senior Policy Advisor, Climate Change Adaptation Governance, NAP Global Network

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Claire McConnell

Policy Advisor

Greg Muttitt

Greg Muttitt

Senior Associate

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Juliet Perry

Communications Manager

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Jeffrey Qi

Policy Advisor I

Alexandra Readhead is Lead, Tax and Extractives with IISD’s Economic Law and Policy Program.

Alexandra Readhead

Director, Tax and Sovereign Debt

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Paulina Resich

Senior Communications Manager

Shruti Sharma IISD Senior Policy Advisor, Energy Program

Shruti Sharma

Lead

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Benjamin Simmons

Director, Sustainable Infrastructure

David Uszoki

David Uzsoki

Lead, Sustainable Finance

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Farooq Ullah

Senior Policy Advisor and Lead, Energy and Climate Governance