COP28 Delivers a Transition Away From Fossil Fuels, But Climate Justice Demands More Action
As Catholic actors, CIDSE and its members were looking towards COP28 with the hope of seeing greater solidarity and climate justice in this process. The outcome of COP28 in Dubai finally proposes the transition away from fossil fuels but with weak language and a text filled with loopholes that reflect the lack of commitments from developed countries to take responsibility for climate change, with the most notable ones being on false solutions and a full fossil fuels phase-out. While CIDSE commends the parties’ commitments to address loss and damage (L&D), it is evident that more ambitious and immediate action on mitigation, adaptation and finance is critical for reducing the increase in carbon emissions to meet the 1.5°C target and addressing worsening climate change impacts.
CIDSE acknowledges the progress made at COP28, particularly the operationalisation of the Loss and Damage Fund and the Santiago Network for Loss and Damage. This is important as many developing nations face challenges in mobilising sufficient resources to address the economic and non-economic loss and damage. While traditionally the focus has been on mitigation efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, operationalising a climate loss and damage fund can be argued as a step toward equity, even without substantial progress in global mitigation efforts.
In order to facilitate the global transition to clean energy and address adaptation and loss and damage effectively, developing countries must be assured of continued support by developed countries, which must be enshrined in the New Collective Quantified Goal (NCQG).
In the aftermath of COP28, CIDSE remains steadfast in its commitment to advocating for transformative change. We will intensify our efforts to raise awareness, mobilise climate action campaigns, and work collaboratively with our members and partners to push for policies and actions that align with the level of ambition and transformation required to combat the climate crisis.
Josianne Gauthier, CIDSE: “We have an agreement that, for the first time, illuminates the beginning of the end for the fossil fuel era. We have seen great engagement from actors from around the world. However, the outcome fails to fully reflect the urgency of climate action or the reality faced by the world’s most vulnerable nations. Fossil Fuel-producing countries and wealthy Western states have not shown the courage to overcome greed and their lifestyles. In doing this, we continue to ignore the demands from Indigenous peoples, youth movements, and vulnerable countries to abandon our addiction to fossil fuels in a way that is fair, fast, funded, and forever. There is no time for distractions or false solutions; the science is clear, there is no alternative to avoiding a climate catastrophe. Without an adaptation plan or a just and realistic financing mechanism rooted in solidarity, vulnerable countries will remain without real options to fight the climate crisis and we will all lose, especially future generations. Civil society, faith actors, and citizen movements will continue to fight for climate justice, echoing those who return today, after two weeks of negotiations, to a home that survives, on a daily basis the impacts of climate change.”
Lydia Lehlogonolo Machaka, CIDSE: “This year, Pope Francis has reminded us of the importance of multilateralism in these decision-making spaces, and of working to protect our common good, not for the well-being of just a few. Catholic actors present in Dubai worked collectively to respond to Pope Francis’ call to phase-out from fossil fuels for the sake of our common home. However, we witnessed how the unprecedented presence of lobbyists from oil companies influenced the climate discussions, working, nonetheless, for the well-being of only a few. Catholic organisations will remain vigilant to ensure that this does not become a trend in the upcoming negotiations in Azerbaijan and Brazil.”
On Global Stocktake
“The language on the energy package is not a success, but it is an important step in the right direction. This achievement owes its existence to the profound involvement of communities and civil society worldwide over the past years. It sends a signal that the fossil fuel era is coming to an end. But it has important caveats. It contains many loopholes with the most prominent being Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) and the endorsement of transition fuels.” David Knecht (Fastenaktion).
“Just before the end, the Global Stocktake was prevented from failing and managed to do justice to essential course corrections, although insufficient in many respects. Attention must now focus on national implementation and informed climate plans to no longer increase the burden of the most vulnerable.” Madeleine Woerner (Misereor).
On Fossil Fuels Phase Out
“COP28 is clearly closing the era of fossil fueled energy systems. This is an important step towards stopping the poverty spiral caused by the fossil based economy. The decision is an important signal to businesses and banks that every cent invested in coal, oil and gas infrastructures is wasted. It is now the time to focus on fair and financed implementation, excluding false solutions. Our partners know that 100 % renewables is our future. Madeleine Woerner (Misereor)
“The climate conference in Dubai failed to adopt the clear language needed to put the world on track. The compromises reached are a step in the right direction. No more, no less. But small steps and compromises can no longer be the answer to the urgency of the global climate crisis. More is needed. The poorest people in the world, who are already suffering from the climate crisis today, must continue to wait for ambitious steps.” Stefan Salzmann (Fastenaktion).
On Loss and Damage
“The Loss and Damage Fund agreement on the first day remains a very delicate victory indeed. Attention must now turn to the board of the new fund and to future meetings of the COP which must set a clear path for making polluters pay. It is only with justice for those who are already experiencing the negative effects of climate change that the full scale of climate action can be taken.” Fr. Leonard Chiti (SCIAF)
On Climate Finance
“At COP28, countries were only able to agree on an inclusive process for the development of the New Collective Quantified Goal in 2024, but not on any substantial issues such as the inclusion of a loss and damage finance pillar in the new goal. This current lack of consensus puts immense pressure on COP29 to deliver on future support, especially for the most vulnerable countries.” Martin Krenn (KOO).
On Food and Agriculture
“The so-called “Food COP” has turned out to be a greenwashing event with many bold commitments towards more climate-friendly agriculture and food systems. Non-binding declarations and statements which do not even mention the big elephant in the room – the highly fossil fuel-based food system. They lack a clear vision towards agroecology which has proved to build up high resilience and low carbon.” Anika Schroeder (Misereor)
NOTES TO THE EDITORS
CIDSE is an international family of Catholic social justice organisations. We work with global partners and allies to promote justice, harnessing the power of global solidarity to achieve transformational change for people and the planet. We challenge systemic injustice and its destructive impacts through connecting, mobilising, influencing and telling stories of change. We promote environmentally and socially just alternatives to allow everyone to thrivein our common home. CIDSE’s work is guided by Catholic Social Teaching and Gospel values. www.cidse.org
CIDSE members are: Broederlijk Delen (Belgium), CAFOD (England and Wales), CCFD-Terre Solidaire (France), Cordaid (the Netherlands), Development & Peace (Canada), Entraide et Fraternité (Belgium), eRko (Slovakia), Fastenaktion (Switzerland), FEC (Portugal), FOCSIV (Italy), Partage Lu (Luxembourg), KOO (Austria), Manos Unidas (Spain), Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns (USA), MISEREOR (Germany), SCIAF (Scotland), Trócaire (Ireland), Vastenactie (the Netherlands).
For more information about CIDSE activities at COP28, visit our webpage.
Carmen Contreras, CIDSE Communications Officer, contreras(at)cidse.org
Cover image: Climate march at COP28 in Dubai. December 2023. Credit: CIDSE