Cop28 'a historic milestone', says US President Biden

The climate conference ended with a call for a transition away from fossil fuels

'Vulnerable countries have called on major economies to take urgent action,' Mr Biden said. AFP
Powered by automated translation

US President Joe Biden, leader of one of the world's worst carbon emitters, celebrated on Wednesday the historic Cop28 resolution which for the first time called for a transition away from fossil fuels.

“World leaders reached another historic milestone … While there is still substantial work ahead of us to keep the 1.5°C goal within reach, today’s outcome puts us one significant step closer,” he said.

With a celebratory gavel strike by Cop28 President Dr Sultan Al Jaber, a breakthrough agreement between about 200 countries and territories solidified a climate deal that takes aim at the greatest contributors to global warming.

The agreement outlines a transition away from fossil fuels, but there are concessions to developing countries, coal users and gas exporters that will allow the fossil fuel industry to retain footholds in the future.

The text calls for a tripling of global renewable energy capacity by 2030, scaling up efforts to cut coal use and boosting technologies such as carbon capture.

Now, it is up to each of the delegate countries to put this blueprint into action back home.

Mr Biden recognised that “vulnerable countries have called on major economies to take urgent action”.

“In every corner of the world, young people are making their voices heard, demanding action from those in power. They remind us that a better, more equitable world is within our grasp. We will not let them down,” he said.

The US delegation at Cop celebrated the critical global stocktake and climate envoy John Kerry stood alongside his Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua at a joint press conference to mark Cop's close.

The best from Cop28 Dubai – in pictures

“The global stocktake underscores that we must continue to drive investments in climate action at all levels, put policies in place to incentivise change and shift finance away from the things that put our shared prosperity at risk,” Mr Kerry said.

“With 190 countries coming together around this result, it’s clear that no one country can do this alone.”

US commitments over the course of the two-week summit included a joint agreement with neighbouring Canada to “renew and accelerate” their efforts to combat the climate crisis, including efforts on reducing methane emissions and pursuing sources of clean energy.

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) also announced a series of climate initiatives on the sidelines of Cop28, including Middle East climate action initiatives like strengthening water infrastructure resilience in Jordan.

But Washington faced criticism for not doing enough to offset its historic carbon emissions, including over its $17.5 million contribution to the loss and damage fund launch. The UAE offered $100 million to the fund, while the UK put in £60 million ($75 million).

One study on carbon inequalities from the University of Leeds found the US holds the “single largest climate debt” to affected countries, at $2.6 trillion per year, on average – 15 per cent of its 2018 gross domestic product.

The Biden administration has worked to prioritise climate change in its domestic agenda.

Landmark investments enacted through the Inflation Reduction Act carry the potential to accelerate the pace of the domestic energy transition and move the US closer to its target of a 50 per cent to 52 per cent emissions reduction by 2030, according to the Washington-based Atlantic Council.

Updated: December 14, 2023, 6:12 AM