Here is the detailed analysis of each negotiating topic of the twenty-eighth Conference of the Parties that Italian Climate Network, through its own Observers, followed directly from the rooms.

First Global Stocktake under the Paris Agreement – Overview

The definitive text on the first stocktake (2023, followed by 2028, 2033 and so on every 5 years) of the actions implemented, from 2020 to today, under the Paris Agreement on climate, starts from the clear consideration that Countries are largely “off-road” with respect to the Paris goals of limiting global warming to +2°C or better +1.5°C at the end of the century (paragraph 2). The Global Stocktake is not an end in itself: it serves to indicate the framework in which to prepare the new national commitments under the Agreement, the NDCs, which each Country will have to update by 2025. For this reason, the text identifies possible trajectories towards this crucial deadline.

Paragraphs 4 and 5 reiterate the relevancy of concentrating efforts towards the most ambitious Paris goal, that of limiting the temperatures’ raise to within +1.5°C. The following paragraph 15 indicates as “unequivocal” the human origin of global warming, which has already reached +1.1°C compared to the pre-industrial era. Paragraph 17 indicates the fact that developed Countries have not managed to reduce their climate-altering emissions by 2020, in the world of pre-Paris commitments, according to the percentages indicated at the time by the IPCC, cited in several paragraphs in which the COP “welcomes” what is contained in its Sixth Report. A contextual framework that contains all the correct references to science and global climate ambition: it was not obvious.

In the following chapter on mitigation, the text cites recent IPCC reports and the Secretariat’s summary report on NDCs indicating the necessary global emissions reductions of 43% by 2030 and 60% by 2035 relative to the 2019 level to reach net emissions zero by 2050 to keep the target of +1.5°C achievable. Only in paragraph 26 is mentioned the scientific need to reach the global peak of emissions by 2025, underlining however that this deadline is not valid for all Countries, based on different development priorities – a clear opening to Countries less favorable to ambitious policies.

Paragraph 28 of the decision is the central one on fossil fuels. Once the formulation “Countries should” disappears, “Countries could” also disappears, and we move on to a much milder “the COP calls on Parties to contribute to global efforts”, the weakest formulation of the negotiation spectrum. The measures to be taken are then listed and in particular:

transitioning away (the new wording introduced) from fossil in energy systems, starting to work on them in the next five years (by 2030), towards net zero emissions by 2050 in keeping with science.

A text resulting from numerous late-night compromises, certainly less ambitious on coal and subsidies, and perhaps even a little less elegant in form: net zero emissions by 2050, around 2050 or “much before” 2050? We will probably have to interpret the various definitions according to an average of the three: “arriving” at 2050 and in any case no later than that year.

Specific issues on mitigation, finance and adaptation are explored in the following sections of our analysis.

Moving on to the chapter on international cooperation, we see how, draft after draft, the initial all-out attack by some developing Countries on the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) of the European Union has lost weight in the text, now reduced to a mere reference (not even direct) in paragraph 154. A half European victory compared to the beginning of the negotiations, when it seemed that the topic could dominate a good part of the Global Stocktake.

Remaining in the EU-China negotiating dualism, from the chapter on Loss and Damage all reference disappears (which we instead find in the part on finance) to the possibility of contributing financially to the newly established Fund for developing Countries that can and want to do so (clearly thinking here about Beijing’s new emission responsibilities). A half Chinese victory, in this case, given that the theme returns a few pages later.

Finally, it is interesting to note that in paragraph 191 it is decided to launch, under the guidance of the Presidencies of COP28, COP29 and COP30, a series of activities (“Road map to Mission 1.5“) to improve international cooperation and stimulate ambition in the next round of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), with the aim of improving people’s quality of life within the objectives of the Paris Agreement and in particular that on maintaining trajectories compatible with +1.5°C. A path that will be interesting to follow, in view of a coordination between the outgoing Presidency, an almost surprise incoming one (Azerbaijan) and the Brazilian one in 2025, which should bring a different tone to the negotiations.

First Global Stocktake under the Paris Agreement – Mitigation

The text approved at COP28 says that Countries are called on to:

Tripling renewables and doubling energy efficiency by 2030: an important objective that according to the International Energy Agency (IEA) would only reduce the emissions gap by 30% to keep the +1.5 C° goal alive.

• Accelerating the phase down of unabated coal: a solid mitigation program should phase out coal, whether compensated by CCS (carbon capture and storage) or not.

• Accelerating global efforts towards net-zero emissions energy systems, using zero- or low-carbon fuels well before or around mid-century: an important signal, but remember that announcing that you want to reach net zero is not enough if you do not specify how and when you intend to do it. Science calls for reducing emissions by at least 90% and using neutralization tools only for residual emissions (maximum 10% of total emissions). Not specifying what percentage of emissions can be neutralized (for example through carbon credits?) to achieve net zero emissions, significantly reduces ambition.

• Transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems in a just, orderly and equitable manner, accelerating action in this critical decade to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, in line with the science . We want to understand this formulation as all-inclusive of all fossil sources, whether compensated or not, however the text does not make this explicit. It could paradoxically be a positive thing. The Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC Simon Stiell was mild, declaring that perhaps “we didn’t turn the page on the fossil fuel era in Dubai“, but it is still the beginning of their end.

• Accelerating zero- and low-emission technologies, including renewables, nuclear, greenhouse gas abatement and removal technologies such as carbon capture and utilization, and storage, particularly in hard-to-abate sectors, and low-emission hydrogen. The fact that we talk about technologies for the removal and capture of greenhouse gases, in the paragraph following the transitioning away from fossil fuels, leads us to ask whether we are referring to a transition from unabated fossil fuels, i.e. the possibility of continuing to burn fossil fuels, limiting themselves to neutralizing the related emissions. The use of emissions capture and storage technologies remains in this paragraph, but it seems positive to us the addition “particularly in hard-to-abate sectors” instead of promoting these technologies in all sectors.

• Accelerating and substantially reducing emissions from other greenhouse gases (beyond CO2), particularly methane emissions by 2030. Important mention given that the work on methane represents the fastest opportunity we have to slow the rate of global warming; methane has a global warming potential more than 80 times higher than carbon dioxide in the first 20 years in which it reaches the atmosphere.

• Reference is made to accelerating the reduction of emissions produced by road transportation, including through the development of infrastructure and the rapid diffusion of zero and low emission vehicles.

• Phasing out, as soon as possible, inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that do not address energy poverty or just transition. The paragraph takes up the weak language of the G20 on “inefficient” subsidies, leaves room for practical and interpretative doubts by justifying the maintenance of subsidies that benefit the most vulnerable groups, even if in reality the majority of fossil subsidies are themselves inefficient because it does not vary based on income and as a result the richest especially benefit from it, not resolving but rather exacerbating energy poverty.

First Global Stocktake under the Paris Agreement – Review of NDCs to 2025

Global Stocktake’s final decision neatly sets out – and is a significant step forward towards 2025 – the timetable for Countries to submit their new national plans under the Paris Agreement. In view of the mandatory update of the plans to 2025, in fact, the COP establishes that they have to be presented by the Countries within 9 and 12 months before the 2025 COP, therefore between December 2024 and March 2025 (paragraph 166). A fairly close deadline for the work of the Ministries of the Countries, though it will allow – even if some documents, we imagine, could be sent during the summer of 2025 – the Secretariat, civil society, the study centers to develop forecasts and scenarios to be presented then to the COP, according to the vision of the continuous and cyclical relaunch of ambition in view of the following second Global Stocktake in 2028 and further new NDCs in 2030.

The new NDCs of 2025, is reminded at paragraph 170, are required to have a ten-year time horizon, therefore including actions and policies up to 2035 according to the 5+5 formula approved in Glasgow two years ago.

First Global Stocktake under the Paris Agreement – Finance

The decision on Global Stocktake does not contain new specific requirements and refers to the “finance package” adopted in plenary (see below) and most of the work on long-term and post-2025 finance will be carried out during COP29 in Baku in 2024. However, a positive note is the reference in several points to the importance of increasing financing to help developing Countries, especially the most vulnerable, in the transition. In particular, the text ” notes that scaling up new and additional grant-based, highly concessional finance, and non-debt instruments remains critical”, words included in the package of specific decisions. This is a further sign of how even rich Countries have now accepted to include in the texts references to the central role of public finance (resolutely requested by many Countries in the South of the world) as a negotiating element of exchange.

As with the Loss and Damage Fund, the European Union’s proposal to extend the taxpayer base for international solidarity has not clearly taken hold in this part of the text either. The text “recalls“, in fact, that developed Countries “shall” provide financial resources based on existing obligations under the Convention, while other Countries are only “encouraged” to provide this support “voluntarily“. No new explicit financial imposition for the new emitters, although cited and “encouraged”.

First Global Stocktake under the Paris Agreement – Human Rights

The approved text mentions human rights mainly in the preambular part (non-binding) and, therefore, fails to insert clear and binding cross-references in the body of the text, which effectively ensure a full operationalization of climate action mechanisms, also on the basis of a human rights-oriented approach. In the part concerning loss and damage, the related paragraph on human rights was therefore lost. This inevitably raised harsh criticism from many observers given the Fund’s initial ambition, at least in theory, to ensure climate justice. The absence of language on human rights effectively leaves the door open to the risk that the Fund could operate without the future Board taking an interest in this aspect, which should instead guide its action. Thus, it is not mentioned the language adopted by the IPCC, which instead recognized that climate action is more effective when rooted in the respect, promotion and fulfillment of human rights.

In general, gender considerations and indigenous traditional knowledge are haphazardly referred to in various parts of the text, for example, with reference to adaptation in paragraphs 55 and 63 of the final decision. They are similarly referred to in the final chapter on “Guidance and way forward”, the next steps to take. However, the text once again leaves people with disabilities behind, mentioned only twice and only in the preambles.

A broader reflection. Although the text now includes the wording “transitioning away from fossil fuels“, it does not, however, modify the current global production system tout court, which is incompatible with the rights and needs of the most vulnerable people. Furthermore, having postponed any specific financial commitment to the next COPs, actually deprives the system for (at least) another year of the resources necessary to start a fair and just transition and to finance collectively, as well as individually, the abandonment of fossil sources.

“Finance package” for the climate

The COP adopted a package of decisions on the topic of climate finance, which will be central next year in Baku: on the new post-2025 quantitative goal, on the standing committee on finance, on reporting, on the review of the Financial Mechanism and on long-term climate finance. The two most relevant texts are probably those on the new post-2025 goal and on long-term finance.

With regard to the first point, summarized in the acronym NCQG (new collective quantified goal), the text aims to arrive in an orderly manner at an advanced draft decision to be prepared well in advance of the expected date of adoption, i.e. COP29 next year. The agenda of the work is adopted: three dialogues between experts in 2024, to be held respectively before the June 2024 midterms, one during them, then one shortly after and “much before” the Baku COP, therefore approximately between September and October 2024. These dialogues must also be held in different areas of the world (at least two) to facilitate participation as much as possible. The three expert dialogues will be accompanied by an equivalent number of ad hoc meetings of the working group, so as to keep the process alive throughout the year, and all the mentioned meetings must be open to the participation of civil society and experts. In this sense, the facilitators will have to present a calendar of activities for 2024 by March. To push the process forward, the countries also decide with this text to convene a high-level ministerial meeting on the topic of the NCQG “well before” COP29.

Regarding the draft on long-term finance, a good part of the text is centered on now obvious considerations on the failure to achieve the objective of 100 billion dollars per year in climate finance launched in 2009 with a deadline of 2020, postponed then to 2025. Peculiar – and we have noticed that this change recurs in all the texts of the “package” – is that we now refer to 2021 as the last year of analysis and reference, given that probably a doubt remains whether or not the target has been achieved in 2022. However, the wording of paragraph 12 is interesting, in which the COP “reiterates the need for public and grant-based resources” (and therefore no private mobilization, no loan-based finance) for finance for adaptation.

Finally, the Secretariat is asked to present, during the next COP, a report on support to developing Countries in identifying their financial needs. However, for this report too, as for other elements of the package and texts analyzed today, there is still no budget to support the work programme.

Loss and damage

On the topic of loss and damage, this COP started at full speed, with the unexpected decision, adopted already in the first plenary on the first day, to approve the package of rules on the new Fund drawn up by the Transition Committee during 2023, therefore with the controversial plan to establish the new Fund under the World Bank for four test years.

In the following days, promises of financial commitment from some Countries followed, with some surprises. With a promised contribution of 100 million euros, Italy becomes – together with the United Arab Emirates, Germany and France – the first donor country under the new Fund for loss and damage, a contribution announced by Prime Minister Meloni in person here in Dubai. It is interesting, however, to understand what the sources and methods of financing this contribution will be, which will represent for Italy, from what we have been able to gather, more of an availability for mobilization of private finance for cooperation and assistance projects according to subsidized loan schemes rather than actual disbursements, as instead requested by the Countries of the South of the world.

Also adopted by the COP is the decision which, after a year-long selection process, finally assigns a home to the Secretariat of the Santiago Network on Loss and Damage, launched at the COP in Madrid in 2019. The Network will be hosted by a consortium of the UN agencies UNDRR and UNOPS, who beat the Caribbean Development Bank in the selection. Also attached to the final decision is the memorandum of understanding which regulates very practical issues relating to this allocation. Now UNDRR and UNOPS have one year to identify which city in the world will host the Secretariat, according to criteria of greatest economic convenience for the United Nations.

Global goal on adaptation

Finance is considered crucial for the implementation of the framework for the new global goal on adaptation (GGA), as well as technology transfer and capacity building. The text recognizes the importance of timeliness and predictability of adaptation finance and the need to improve direct access by simplifying procedures. It is noted with concern the insufficiency of adaptation finance to respond to the worsening impacts of climate change in developing Countries and the increase in the gap between needs and existing funds, with a commitment from Countries to fill it. On financial means, the text only refers to a generic sustainability of the debt. We find in the text an appeal to developed Countries to at least double funding for adaptation to developing Countries by 2025 compared to 2019 levels, a decision widely awaited and anticipated already by COP27.

This decision does not contain explicit references to common, but differentiated, responsibilities. Goals are set for all countries: to update assessments of the threats and impacts of climate change and exposure to risks and vulnerabilities and use them to formulate national adaptation plans; to establish multi-risk early warning systems and climate information services for risk reduction; on planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation related to adaptation policies. (Non-specific) goals are foreseen on topics such as water, food, agriculture and health, ecosystem resilience and infrastructure. A work programme is required to further develop goals and indicators. The fundamental role of indigenous people is recognized in developing the adaptation framework. And to: protect cultural heritage, define indicators, metrics and objectives in implementing adaptive action; implement the overall adaptation framework.

Article 6

After two weeks of discussions, the facilitators of the negotiations on Articles 6.2 (bilateral cooperation between Countries on emissions credits) and 6.4 (new global mechanism on emissions trading) had to throw up their hands and surrender to the absence of any consensus among the delegates, postponing – quite surprisingly – both issues to the next negotiation. However, the negotiation on Article 6.8, which deals with non-market approaches under the Paris Agreement, survived.

It is important to point out the reactions of civil society. If on the one hand a postponed negotiation topic always represents a misstep in the COP and in the implementation process of the 2015 Paris Agreement, we cannot fail to note here that the debate on emissions credits linked to “cooperation” projects between Countries is becoming increasingly ambiguous and dividing. Here at COP28, Bolivia even presented a proposal for a moratorium on the entire package. The reason for the distrust is the lack of reliability and transparency of actors, realities, carbon market projects in the past, a sector that is still not sufficiently regulated and not sufficiently attentive to the active protection of the human rights of the populations involved at a local level in the projects. In this sense, many civil society organizations have welcomed the absence of agreement, hoping for greater ambition in the negotiations in the coming years; at the same time, we remember that the measures imagined under Article 6 of Paris should serve to contribute, at least in theory, to the global reduction of emissions, creating incentive systems for Countries and businesses. However, let’s see what was discussed in the various negotiations, point by point, and what was adopted on the less dividing Article 6.8.

Regarding Article 6.2: references to science had disappeared and is was being discussed using credits exclusively for the neutralization of 10% of residual emissions, and only through CO2 removal projects. There was no agreement on the terminology useful for understanding what is meant by removal and reduction activities. Interestingly, there was no consensus even on requesting information on the risk of releasing CO2 once removed from the atmosphere (so-called reversal risk). Remember that, without scientific proof that the removed CO2 remains permanently in carbon sinks, the carbon credit market could prove to be harmful to achieving the goal of the Paris Agreement.

Regarding Article 6.4: paragraph 24 of the draft requested the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice to continue its consideration whether activities under Article 6.4 could include emissions avoidance. First of all, we need a clear definition of what is meant by this term, how to evaluate the counterfactual scenario we are dealing with to decide what emissions have been avoided. Reporting these avoided emissions is inevitably based on assumptions, with a greater degree of discretion compared to reporting the reduction of existing emissions, which may be based on data. In the absence of clear methodologies on how to report avoided emissions, the risk of double-counting or issuing credits in excessive quantities would be high.

The final texts of Articles 6.2 and 6.4. they were also very weak from the point of view of the protection of human rights, so much so that in the discussion on this issue there was strong opposition from Mexico to the latest draft text. The simple canonical mention of human rights remained only in Article 6.4. (Article 6.2. did not mention the topic at all) in the preamble part (non-binding), instead of operationalizing them in the body of the text. With regard to the rules to protect the system, it’s worth pointing out that the request to the Supervisory Body to establish governance rules for large companies, aimed at preventing any ineffectiveness and harmfulness of (poorly) implemented projects just under the Article 6.

Finally, with regards to Article 6.8, the only approved decision consists of a short, so to speak, administrative text, in which countries are encouraged to participate actively on the Secretariat’s new online platform (where they can share good practices and continue the technical discussion during the year), and the Secretariat itself is asked to prepare a report on what has been reported and proposed by the countries by the next COP, so as to continue the process at least from the point of view of the basic definitions. We couldn’t expect much more on a topic that is still largely unclear for most of the delegations, although it is positively mentioned in the Global Stocktake in view of future more operational developments.

Just transition

A decision on a just transition working group cannot fail to take into account some fundamental social justice considerations, and it is no coincidence that the entire fifth paragraph of the preamble calls on countries to “promote and consider their obligations on human rights, the right to health, the rights of Indigenous Peoples, migrants, children, persons with disabilities and people in vulnerable situations“. Every attack on the European CBAM (quite remarkable in the last draft we were able to see) has now disappeared. In several points it is then reiterated that “[the just transition] must be based on nationally defined development priorities. An attempt to underline and powerfully emphasize the issue on behalf of developing Countries against any European or Western outbursts of ambition (and therefore spending).

The timing and key points of the future work of the Programme are therefore defined. It shall start immediately after the end of COP28, with a view to “informing the second Global Stocktake” (of 2028). Furthermore, in 2026, the delegates will have to take stock of the work of the Programme up to then and decide, on the basis of the “effectiveness and efficiency” of what emerges, whether or not the programme should continue beyond 2026. This prediction was already in previous drafts, we had identified it as “messy” and it remains so, given that it is extremely strange to launch a work programme that should inform a specific process in 2028, while at the same time saying that perhaps it could be closed two years earlier. It is obviously (also) a matter of resources.

In support of the formal work during the COPs, at least” two annual “dialogues” shall be held (for those who have followed the topic of loss and damage over the years, it reminds us of something) starting from June 2024 (before the Bonn intermediate meetings) and then in November 2024 (before COP29), in a hybrid format to ensure the best participation of everyone, including civil society – and spend less. Finally, the drafting of an annual summary report of the annual Dialogues by the chairs of SBSTA and SBI is envisaged, as well as a certainly more important report that summarizes all the work of the Programme towards the second Global Stocktake, net of the inconsistency of the timeframes noted above.

Mitigation work programme

Before this COP it seemed that the Mitigation work programme could be abandoned altogether. Instead, it entered the agenda, it was discussed, but with results that in our opinion were quite disappointing. In the three pages of the final decision, we find little content and many procedural issues. There is no talk of abandoning fossil fuels, there is no talk of the peak of emissions in 2025, there is no talk on how to make the programme concrete through financed actions. There’s no mention of the duration of the programme itself either.

The confrontation immediately showed the tensions between the Countries: while the European Union, Australia and other States were pushing for a document that indicated clear topics, the G77, represented by China and Saudi Arabia, argued that there was still no mandate from the States to produce a draft text. The facilitators of the negotiating sessions, for their part, had produced a text and it contained, on the second day of COP, ideas such as the need to “reach peaking of global emissions well before 2025 and “reduce emissions by 43 per cent by 2030 relative to the 2019 level”, “achieve net zero emissions by 2050”. On Sunday December 3rd, an informal discussion had produced a practical proposal for actions to be implemented but some delegations, including China and Saudi Arabia, had not participated in the session. The repeated appeals of the latter not to duplicate the results of the Global Stocktake and to stick to the mandate of Sharm el-Sheikh, which they say is purely procedural, has emptied the text of content. In fact, already from Monday December 4th it started to be shaped as three empty pages, except for some operational indications on the meeting methods related to the “global dialogues and investment-focused events” envisaged by the programme.

Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE)

Unfortunately, the topic was postponed to the next negotiation. This COP28, however, seemed to be able to bring important developments: the central point concerned the proposal of the G77 and China to include in the COP process a session in the annual ACE Dialogues with the aim of discussing ways and means to improve the availability and accessibility of financing per line of work. Unfortunately, no agreement was reached between the Parties regarding the financing of these actions, and for the first time on this issue the Countries resorted to rule 16, which provides for the possibility of postponing the issue to the next negotiation in the absence of any consent.

Nature and biodiversity

On the topic of biodiversity, the Global Stocktake text underlines the urgent need to protect, conserve and restore nature and ecosystems for effective and sustainable action on the climate and therefore to achieve the temperature goal of the Paris Agreement. This must happen while ensuring social and environmental guarantees, in line with the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework. The importance of investments, financial resources, technology transfer and capacity building to stop and reverse deforestation and forest degradation by 2030 is emphasized. It also recognizes the importance of ensuring the integrity of all ecosystems, including those of forests, oceans, mountains and the cryosphere. Unfortunately, we do not yet see coordination between the two topics of climate and biodiversity, in the Global Stocktake even the slightest hint of an institutional link between the two processes is missing, which is increasingly necessary for us.


Nowhere in the text there is a reference to the recommendations of the High-Level Expert Group on the net-zero emissions commitments of non-state actors, with the aim of increasing transparency and accountability of the climate commitments of companies, investors, cities and regions. At COP27, UN Secretary General Guterres invited non-state actors to publish their net-zero commitments on a public platform so that it can be included in the official UNFCCC portal by COP28. We found no trace of it in Dubai.

Article by the Italian Climate Network Delegation at COP28

Cover image: UNFCCC

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