COP28 Reaches First-Ever Deal to Transition Away From Fossil Fuels

    COP28 Reaches First-Ever Deal to Transition Away From Fossil Fuels
    Photo: Fadel Dawod/Getty Images News [via Getty Images]

    The Facts

    • More than 190 countries at the UN COP28 climate summit on Wednesday, hosted in Dubai, approved calls for a "transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly and equitable manner." In an attempt to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, the deal also says the global economy should shift to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

    • While the international call for a transition away from fossil fuels was the first of its kind, the deal didn't explicitly call for a phaseout of fossil fuels — something many countries wanted. However, this year's COP28 president, Sultan al-Jaber of the United Arab Emirates, said nations had "confronted realities and... set the world in the right direction."

    The Spin

    Narrative A

    While international organizations like the UN understand that more action will be needed to fully phase out fossil fuels, this agreement is still a historic accomplishment for the planet. The progress made included tripling renewable energy capacity by 2030 and financial commitments to the Loss and Damage Fund. As for a complete phase-out, the deal reached in Dubai on Wednesday has laid the groundwork for the inevitable end to burning coal and gas — even in the richest oil-burning countries.

    Narrative B

    Despite this being the most ambitious UN climate deal in history, no commitments to completely phase out fossil fuels were made, let alone strategies to help climate-affected communities in the present. This is probably because, despite references to "the science," which has been clear for decades, more than 1K fossil fuel industry lobbyists attended the event. The final text of the deal was also cleansed of any language related to justice, which means the smaller countries most at risk of climate change won't be seeing concrete action for a long time.

    Narrative C

    Fortunately, the scientific overlords didn't get everything they wanted at this year's climate summit. For all their talk about representing the masses and winning justice for the voiceless, in reality, UN climate policy is set by a select few power-hungry pseudoscientists who still travel around the globe in gas-guzzling planes. COP28 truly does mark the beginning of the end to fossil fuels — which means the end of eating meat, using a gas stove, and countless other draconian laws coming soon to a government near you.

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 50% chance that the average global temperature in 2100 will be 2.50˚C higher than the average global temperature in 1880, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

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