COP28 Recap and Reactions
December 19, 2023
On December 13, more than 200 countries reached agreement on new plans to address climate change during COP28 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. COP, or the United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties, provides an opportunity to set a global roadmap and there is currently an emphasis on reaching goals set out in the Paris Agreement at COP21. This year’s agreement is seen by many as “historic” with it being the first COP to mention the role of fossil fuels in the climate crisis. However, there are many others who are skeptical of the loopholes and shortcomings within the final agreement. Moreover, the convenings established the loss and damage fund which aims to improve access to technical assistance on environmental issues–a major win for countries most impacted by the crisis.
Some Key Parts of the Agreement from COP28
- Renewable Energy Capacity: Tripling renewable energy capacity globally and doubling the global average rate of energy efficiency improvements by 2030.
- Transition Away from Coal: Encouraging the rapid phase out of coal and limiting the permitting of new coal power generation.
- Net Zero Emissions: Accelerating efforts globally towards net zero emissions energy systems and the utilization of zero and low carbon fuels.
- Just and Equitable Energy Transition: Transitioning away from fossil fuels in our energy systems and phasing out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that do not address energy poverty or just transitions to cleaner energy sources.
- Investing in Clean Technologies: Accelerating zero and low emissions technologies.
- Addressing Non-CO2 Pollutants and Emissions: Accelerating and substantially reducing non-CO2 emissions, and particularly methane emissions globally by 2030.
- Addressing Emissions in Transit: Accelerating emissions reductions from transit activity.
Looking Ahead on State Action
States are already addressing these goals set forth by the resolution. States such as California, Colorado, and Maryland to name a few are already prioritizing a just transition to clean energies, reaching net zero emissions, and reducing non-carbon dioxide emissions. They’re also working to ensure climate resiliency within their communities as these agreements are met and slowly integrated. As we enter the 2024 legislative session, states are primed to continue enacting bold climate policies to address the climate crisis.
State Perspectives on the Ground
There were many state voices present on the ground in Dubai at COP28. Below are some reflections and takeaways from state officials and legislators who attended the conference.
David Hochschild, Chair of California Energy Commission
Having just returned from COP28 in Dubai, it is clear how much of the world’s climate leadership is happening at the state level. While there, we enrolled California in the Global Offshore Wind Alliance (GOWA) with other state and national governments around the world as part of an international effort to get 2000GW of offshore wind commitments by 2050.
Representative Alex Valdez, Colorado
It was a tremendous honor to attend the 28th Conference of the Parties (COP) last week. I learned and shared with other policymakers and business leaders. One important factor that hung over the event was the location and organizer. Dr. Al Jaber was the COP President for this year, which means he oversaw this year’s most important climate conference. It is unfortunate that he shared counterproductive and false views about the need to continue oil and gas production. But it was still a productive conference with new agreements about clean energy development, which we should celebrate. The final agreement calls for the tripling of renewable energy development by 2030. This bold goal would have a meaningful impact on global emissions, but more action is needed to stave off the worst effects of climate change. I am excited to return to Colorado to help ensure my state goes above and beyond the renewable energy goals made at COP.
At the conference, I spoke about stopping fossil fuel production within the decade and fully electrifying our economy. This transition will require innovation and reliance on clean energy technologies. A clean energy economy will benefit everyone, and I am happy with Colorado’s leadership in reducing emissions. My experience at COP emphasized the importance of the role of the states in implementing the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). The IRA will not be successful without leadership from State Legislators across the country passing laws to access the funding set aside in the IRA. We have a lot of work to do, and I urge my colleagues in the Colorado General Assembly to work together to get access to the federal funds we need to complete the energy transition.
Delegate Evan Hansen, West Virginia
Just a few weeks before COP28 began, President Biden and Chinese President Xi signed the Sunnylands Statement on Enhancing Cooperation to Address the Climate Crisis, reaffirming their commitment to work together to address the climate crisis. This was welcome news, because addressing the climate crisis can only be accomplished with the full commitment of the largest emitters in the world. The Sunnylands Statement includes the intention to “recommence bilateral dialogues on energy policies and strategies, carry out exchanges on mutually agreed topics, and facilitate track II activities to enhance pragmatic cooperation.”
At COP28, I participated in a China-US Subnational Track II Dialogue to further communication between local government leaders and NGOs from both countries. The meeting provided an opportunity to share successes and challenges and to build a foundation for future cooperation. Representing West Virginia, a state that will be hit hard by a reduction in coal mining jobs, I appreciated the opportunity to share ideas about what a Just Transition would look like in coal-dependent states in the United States and China.