Cop28 could achieve ‘unprecedented’ results, says climate summit president in upbeat message to delegates

Sultan Ahmed Al-Jaber has appointed ministers, including Green Party leader Eamon Ryan, to break impasses as climate talks reach crunch point

In an upbeat message, the lead negotiator at the Cop28 climate talks, Sultan Ahmed Al-Jaber, has said it has the potential to achieve an unprecedented result in coming days.

At a press conference on Friday evening he told the audience: “I hope you are ready for what will be a momentous few days ahead.”

The Cop28 president has appointed pairs of ministers in an attempt to overcome blockages on the most contentious issues.

He added: “I am sure we will agree that Cop28 has already made history. There is a unique sense of momentum, a sense of inclusivity and a sense of willingness and flexibility. I also feel a sense that something unprecedented is possible to happen here at Cop28.”


Denmark’s climate minister, Dan Jorgensen, who has been charged with one of the key roles in forging an agreement among deeply divided governments, said: “We cannot negotiate with nature. The climate cannot compromise. No well-meaning words will change a single thing unless we act. This week may be our last opportunity to bring us on course to keeping 1.5 degrees alive.”

Mr Jorgensen, along with the South African environment minister Barbara Creecy, will chair negotiations on the global stocktake, a process assessing progress towards meeting the Paris Agreement’s goals of holding global temperature rises “well below” 2 degrees and “pursuing efforts” to keep them to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels.

For those reasons, the stocktake will also contain recommendations to governments for a “course correction”, asking them to change policies and bring in measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions drastically because of implementation gaps.

A key part of the stocktake is whether countries will agree to phase out or phase down fossil fuels. More than 100 countries are calling for such a resolution, citing scientific advice, but some powerful nations including China and India are against such a move. Big fossil fuel producers, such as the US, Canada, Norway and Saudi Arabia, along with the EU, are being accused of trying to block an unequivocal agreement on a phase-out by pushing for the stocktake to refer to “abated” fossil fuels.

A number of options on phasing out fossil fuels are on the table including “no option”, which Minister for Climate Eamon Ryan has said is not acceptable as it means “business as usual”.

Mr Ryan has been appointed by the EU, along with French counterpart Agnès Pannier-Runnacher, to be its lead negotiator on climate finance.

Their position, he said at a media briefing, was to have climate at centre of all financial and economic decisions and that international financial flows should be consistent with the aim of keeping global temperature increases to as close to 1.5 degrees as possible by 2030.

To phase out fossil fuels, there had to be a strong alternative and it had to be easier for countries, particularly developing countries, to shift to clean energy systems, he added. “It will require $4.3 trillion investment annually in clean energy by 2030,” Mr Ryan said.

Chairwoman of the Elders Mary Robinson called for a decision in “clear, unambiguous language to urgently phase out all fossil fuels” in her first statement at Cop28. The world is at a critical juncture, and time is running out to ensure the necessary fossil fuel reductions happen “this decade”, she said.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin announced €50 million to support climate-related projects in countries most vulnerable to climate impacts, notably small island development states (SIDS).

The funding package will see Ireland support a range of adaptation initiatives in countries most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, the Tánaiste said at a Cop28 event launching a revised Irish strategy for partnership with SIDS.

“Ireland wants to see tangible and solid results from Cop28. We need countries to be bolder in terms of their climate mitigation actions. We also need countries to step up and provide additional funding to support the adaptation measures urgently needed in countries already on the frontline of the climate crisis,” he added.

A critical part of the strategy was to build local capacity on the ground in SIDS, “many of whom are in a battle for survival”.

The new funding announced includes €25 million annually for three years (2025-2027) to the International Fund for Agricultural Development; a doubling of support which helps build crop resilience.

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Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan is Environment and Science Editor and former editor of The Irish Times