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At the COP28 climate summit in Dubai, representatives from nearly 200 countries reached an agreement to start reducing the global consumption of fossil fuels. This move is aimed at preventing the most severe impacts of climate change, marking a pivotal shift towards the end of the oil era.

After two weeks of intense negotiations, the agreement was finalised, intending to convey a strong message to both investors and policymakers about the global commitment to moving away from fossil fuels. Scientists have emphasised this as a crucial step to avoid a climate disaster.

The President of COP28, Sultan Al Jaber, described the agreement as “historic”, emphasising the importance of its execution. “We are what we do, not what we say,” he stated during his address at the summit. “We must take the steps necessary to turn this agreement into tangible actions.”

The agreement was hailed by several countries as a significant achievement in the history of climate discussions. Espen Barth Eide, Norway’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, said, “It is the first time that the world unites around such a clear text on the need to transition away from fossil fuels.”

Despite strong advocacy from over 100 countries for explicit language in the COP28 agreement to phase out oil, gas, and coal, opposition from the OPEC, led by Saudi Arabia, argued for emission reduction without abandoning specific fuels. This contention extended the summit by an additional day.

OPEC members, controlling a substantial portion of the world’s oil reserves and output, heavily depend on these revenues. In contrast, small island states vulnerable to climate change, backed by major oil and gas producers like the US, Canada, Norway, the EU, and others, strongly supported the fossil fuel phase-out.

US climate envoy John Kerry praised the agreement, saying, “This is a moment where multilateralism has actually come together and people have taken individual interests and attempted to define the common good.”

Anne Rasmussen, the lead negotiator for the Alliance of Small Island States, expressed disappointment over the deal’s lack of ambition but acknowledged its incremental progress.

Danish Climate and Energy Minister Dan Jorgensen highlighted the symbolic significance of the agreement, stating, “We’re standing here in an oil country, surrounded by oil countries, and we made the decision saying let’s move away from oil and gas.”

The deal outlines a transition from fossil fuels in energy systems, aiming for net zero by 2050 in line with scientific recommendations. It also includes increasing renewable energy capacity threefold by 2030, reducing coal usage, and advancing technologies like carbon capture and storage.

A Saudi Arabian representative endorsed the agreement, noting its alignment with the 1.5 degrees Celsius global warming limit set in the 2015 Paris deal, while reiterating the country’s view on climate change as an emissions reduction issue.