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Sustainability Monitor

COP28: Too Big to Fail?

by Veronika Ertl, Philipp Dienstbier, Karin Jancyková

The World Climate Conference: A Litmus Test for the Paris Climate Agreement and a Guiderail for Future Climate Policy.

High expectations and deep rifts marked this year's COP28 world climate conference in Dubai. Nevertheless, the 198 negotiating parties managed to reach an agreement on the main point of contention, the transition away from fossil fuels, as well as the operationalisation of the Loss and Damage Fund. Other issues, such as climate finance and adaptation to climate change, received less attention. The most recent Conference of the Parties also witnessed new momentum in negotiations between participating states and the formation of new alliances and groupings.

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COP28 in Dubai in 2023 was not only the largest climate conference of all time, but probably also the COP facing the highest expectations since the Paris Climate Agreement was signed. In particular, negotiations were centred on the Global Stocktake (GST), seeking to evaluate progress made to date towards achieving the Paris Agreement while setting the framework for the global community's future commitments.

Thanks to the skilful preparations by the host country, the United Arab Emirates, negotiations were able to register success on the very first day, by successfully agreeing on the operationalisation of the Loss and Damage Fund. However, tough and tedious negotiations characterised the further course of the climate conference, and almost collapsed before an agreement was almost surprisingly hammered out in key areas. 

On the central issue of fossil fuels, a consensus was reached on "transitioning away" from fossil fuels, which fell short of the demand for a "phase-out", but now seals the end of the fossil fuel era for the first time – a remarkable step compared to previous climate conferences. In the shadow of this major point of contention, however, there was no breakthrough on other issues: limited or no results were achieved in negotiations on emissions trading, adaptation to climate change and financing. The task ahead is to prepare for an agreement in these areas before COP29 in Azerbaijan.

Read the entire Monitor: "COP28: Too Big to Fail? The World Climate Conference: A Litmus Test for the Paris Climate Agreement and a Guiderail for Future Climate Policy" from our Sustainability series here as a PDF.

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Gisela Elsner

Gisela Elsner kas

Global Sustainability Policy Officer and KAS Advice and Complaints Officer +49 30 26996-3759


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About this series

The publications of the Sustainability Monitor are part of our Monitor publication series. The Monitor series deals with one main topic at a time from the perspective of KAS experts and places it in the political and social context on the basis of a few key points.