COP28 President Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber after a draft of a negotiation deal was released at the COP28 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Dubai on December 13, 2023. It is the first step in the world's bid to wean off fossil fuels. Image Credit: Reuters

Dubai: The world for the first time agreed to move away from fossil fuels. That was the main plank in the UAE Consensus at the end of protracted negotiations at the 28th session of the Conference of Parties — the UN Climate Summit — in the UAE.

The deal was undoubtedly historic. At no time in the past 30 years of climate summits has there been a mention of fossil fuels. After 13 days of discussions in Dubai, representatives from nearly 200 countries agreed on Wednesday to the UAE Consensus, which will help limit global heating to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels.

The accord was welcomed UAE leaders, who praised the international cooperation that led to the conference’s success.

Praise from UAE leaders

Commending the outcome, President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan said: “The conference produced significant results, and we will continue to work hand-in-hand with the global community to advance all efforts aimed at securing a more sustainable future for our planet and its people.”

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, was equally effusive and said: “COP28 raised $85 billion, ushering in a new era of global climate action. The summit succeeded in setting new benchmarks in climate action and cemented the UAE’s position as a key player in building a sustainable future for the planet.”

The UAE Consensus will play a decisive in that future as it called on countries to “transition away from fossil fuels in a just, orderly and equitable manner, accelerating action in this critical decade” to achieve net zero by 2050. An elated COP28 President Sultan Al Jaber said, “Together, we have confronted realities and set the world in the right direction.”


He said the deal’s true success lies in its implementation. “An agreement is only as good as its implementation. We are what we do, not what we say. We must take the steps necessary to turn this agreement into tangible action,” Al Jaber added.

To reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the deal has asked countries to submit economy-wide Nationally Determined Contributions — a key component of global stocktake, one of the main outcomes of COP28.

The UAE Consensus included a new target to triple renewables and double energy efficiency by 2030. Countries were also urged to “accelerate the efforts towards the phase-down of unabated coal power” and “substantially reduce non-carbon dioxide emissions, including methane emissions by 2030”.

UAE Consensus, a powerful message to the world

Reacting to the deal, UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Simon Steill said: “Whilst we didn’t fully turn the page on the fossil fuel era in Dubai, this is the beginning of the end.”

EU climate chief Wopke Hoekstra said: “Humanity has finally done what is long overdue. Thirty years we’ve spent to arrive at the beginning of the end of fossil fuels.”

Lauding the accord, US Special Envoy for Climate John Kerry said: “In a multilateral venue to have as strong a document as has been put together, I find this a cause of optimism. The fact is that this document sends a powerful message to the world.”