As COP28 negotiations ended, an agreement was penned, with governments reaching a historic, first-time consensus to transition away from fossil fuels.
C40 Co-Chair, Mayor of Freetown Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, said: “While it’s a crucial first to acknowledge transitioning away from fossil fuels at the UN climate talks, it doesn’t go far enough. We are at a crossroads: this can be the beginning of the end of the fossil fuel era, but the true test of success will be the ground-level actions taken to avert climate breakdown and address the deep injustices associated with the expansion and extraction of fossil fuels. The loss and damage fund is a critical win for Africa and the Global South, but who puts the money, how much, and to whom must be much clearer. Re-designing COP by empowering local communities and putting a just transition at its heart are imperatives for a revamped future, which is why it’s a real opportunity that 71 countries have agreed to work with local leaders to update their climate plans – now they need to make it real. Amidst these challenges lies our new hope. Thanks to the leadership of António Guterres, there has never been more clarity on the issues that matter and who stands where: ‘A 1.5-degree limit hinges on halting all fossil fuel burning within a defined time frame—no reduction, no abatement.’ This is the clarion call for real action, and vested interests have failed to stop it.”
C40 Co-Chair, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, said: “This first-time mention of transitioning away from fossil fuels in the COP28 agreement sends a very strong signal to the world: the fossil fuel era is coming to an end. We’re at a crossroads–we either take necessary action now to keep global temperatures within 1.5°C or face the consequences– with catastrophic impacts on our environment, the air we breathe and the planet. Mayors around the world are taking decisive action in this make-or-break decade to reduce fossil fuel demand in a fair and equitable way. As the UN Secretary-General has made clear, to truly cap heating at 1.5°C, we must phase out fossil fuels. It’s time to protect our planet and future generations – it’s as simple and as urgent as that.”
C40 Executive Director Mark Watts said: “The key test of COP28 was whether it could achieve intergovernmental agreement to stop new investment in coal, oil and gas and begin the rapid phase-out of fossil fuels. It has not done that, but the closing agreement has, for the first time, recognised that this must be the direction of travel. In the painfully slow world of intergovernmental climate negotiation, this is progress. We owe a debt of gratitude to UN Secretary-General António Guterres for defining so clearly that phasing out fossil fuels was the dividing line at this COP and to the negotiators, mayors, governors, business leaders and millions of activists who applied enough pressure to overcome a fossil fuel lobby that tenaciously attempted to block even these small steps forward.
“The key to turning nuanced language into world-changing action now lies with the ‘doers’ who want to get on with the rapid phase-out of fossil fuels. C40 is proud to stand in the vanguard of that movement and welcomes the CHAMP initiative of COP28, creating a bigger opportunity for mayors and governors to work with national governments to achieve that.”