CISL's COP28 Week Two:

A coalition of the hopeful

The Global Stocktake (GST) outcome dominated this year’s COP28. Its crucial aim to get the world back on track to delivering the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting a post-industrialisation temperature rise to 1.5 degrees was hanging in the balance. And while it may not have had the desired outcome of phasing out fossil fuels – instead calling for a "transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly and equitable manner... so as to achieve net zero by 2050 in keeping with the science" - other declarations were being worked on: some met, some exceeding ambition, and some postponed till next year’s summit (looking likely to be in Baku, Azerbaijan).  

So while the world waited (and waited) on the final text, eventually coming a day late, we also analysed other important announcements...  

“Whether you like it or not, fossil fuel phase-out is inevitable. Let’s hope it doesn’t come too late”

António Guterres, UN Secretary General


Flip-flopping from hope to outrage depending on which draft had just been released, the final wording eventually “calls on parties, in a nationally determined manner” to transition away from fossil fuels in energy systems “in a just, orderly and equitable manner, accelerating action in this critical decade, so as to achieve net zero by 2050 in keeping with the science”.  

Countries are also “called on” to “accelerate zero- and low-emission technologies, including, inter alia, renewables, nuclear, abatement and removal technologies such as carbon capture and utilisation and storage, particularly in hard-to-abate sectors, and low-carbon hydrogen production.” 

So, while it was not as clear a signal as hoped, this was the first time ‘fossil fuels’ had been listed in a COP agreement. This wasn’t always looking likely and a watered down penultimate draft drew wide criticism and fury. Samoan Minister, Cedric Schuster, as AOSIS chair said, “We will be sticking to our guns on our long-held positions on climate change and the deadly consequences that it has brought our islands. At this hour, our negotiators are locked in discussions as the remaining hours of COP28 will be crucial. We will not sign our death certificate. We cannot sign on to text that does not have strong commitments on phasing out fossil fuels.” 

Read CISL’s statement on the final outcome: Beginning of the end | Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL)] 

Discover CISL’s key asks of the Parties

"The decision at COP28 to finally recognize that the climate crisis is, at its heart, a fossil fuel crisis is an important milestone. But it is also the bare minimum we need and is long overdue. The influence of petrostates is still evident in the half measures and loopholes included in the final agreement"

Al Gore


Reflecting on the Global Goal for Adaptation (GGA) and the Adaptation Fund reveals a landscape of progress mixed with significant shortcomings. The GGA's targets, though heightened in urgency, suffer from a lack of concrete timelines and specificity. This vagueness could impede measurable progress in mitigating climate impacts. Financial commitments, a cornerstone for achieving these targets, appear weakly structured. The differentiated responsibility approach lacks clarity on the scale of financial contributions, especially in the absence of earlier Adaptation draft’s proposed figures like US $400bn. 

The governance aspect of the GGA is also of concern. Dilution of language could impact the effectiveness of national adaptation plans and the development of progress indicators. Furthermore, despite recognising the importance of locally led adaptation, both the GGA and the Adaptation Fund fall short in providing concrete financial mechanisms to support it - a gap that cannot be overlooked given the crucial role of local actions in effective adaptation. 

“As a small island state we struggled with adaptation for many editions of COP. [So this is] a very significant start for us”

Grace Fu, Singapore Minister for Sustainability and the Environment  

white wind mills


Building on the UAE Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems and Climate Action from week one, a new important roadmap to transform food production was announced in week two. It was signed by 152 world leaders, speaking for 5.9 billion people, and accounting for 73% of the food we eat, representing 518 million farmers, and responsible for 78% of total emissions from food systems. Read the full roadmap here: FAO COP 28 - Roadmap 

“The ongoing process initiated at COP28 marks the genesis of a collaborative effort, essential in steering our global course toward a future where sustenance, equity, and environmental stewardship converge harmoniously”

Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations


A coalition of more than a 1000 names and businesses rallied round to mount pressure on the outcome: Pressure on COP28 president to deliver 1.5C plan ramped up by coalition of 800 leaders - ESG Clarity 

While a counter letter from the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) urged the UAE presidency to not sign the GST if says will phase out or down: OPEC Urges Members to Reject Any COP28 Deal Targeting Fossil Fuels ( 

Baku, Azerbaijan, is looking likely to host next year’s COP29: Azerbaijan gets nod to host COP29 climate summit  – POLITICO 

Oh, and it’s the end of the hottest year and it’s going to get hotter: Next year’s average global temperature may rise higher than 1.5C, warns Met Office | The Independent 


“What I’m focused on is seeing these pledges converted into outcomes in the real economy, where the rubber really hits the road on climate action”

Simon Stiell, UN Climate Change Executive Secretary 


CLG UK convened 25 UK businesses to deliver a shared statement in support of the UK Government negotiation that aims to keep 1.5C alive. Read the statement here:    

CLG EU convened 29 business organisations spanning various sectors to join forces to advocate for a transformative shift in our global energy landscape. In a collective statement shared with European policymakers, they called for the critical need for language in the COP negotiations to reflect tripling renewable energy by 2030, doubling energy efficiency, and orchestrating a decisive fossil fuel phase out. Statement here: 

Dr Nina Seega's opinion piece in Forbes on why the Loss & Damage Fund is so important at COP28 in order to protect the countries most vulnerable to climate change: 

CISL’s Chief Systems Change Officer, Eliot Whittington, spoke on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire while awaiting the final outcome. Listen from 1h51m: 

Eliot Whittington, also spoke on BBC Radio Coventry, Solent, Oxford, Berkshire and Lancashire on the next steps after COP28.

Beverley Cornaby, the director of Corporate Leaders Group UK was interviewed by Channel 4 News on the critical topic of a fossil fuel phase out and what was likely to be the outcome of the negotiations.  

Dr Nina Seega also spoke to Channel 5 and ITV news with some reflections on this year's conference.