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Environment, Political

Expert reaction to COP28

Climate Media Centre 5 mins read

A new deal has been agreed to at COP28 Dubai, as the climate summit concludes. Countries have collectively agreed on the need to “transition away” from fossil fuels.

Please see below response from experts at the conference:

Joseph Sikulu, Pacific Managing Director 

“While the outcome speaks to transitioning away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy, change continues to be incremental, not transformational. COP28 promised us an historic achievement and what we have received is a lukewarm outcome with several of our red lines for survival being crossed. Our islands deserve more than lukewarm, we deserve concrete actions to stay below 1.5 degrees and the resources to adapt and transition our developing economies. 

“While it does acknowledge the root cause of the climate crisis - fossil fuels - it again fails to phase out coal, oil and gas. While it does acknowledge the need to triple renewable energy, it fails to set a clear quantitative goal. 

“It is not enough for us to reference the science and then make agreements that ignore what the science is telling us we need to do. We will not let the future of the Pacific fall through loopholes like “abatement” and “transitional fuels”, and we will hold countries like Australia accountable, who continue to delay a true phaseout with dangerous distractions. Every year, we travel across oceans to come to these negotiations and fight tooth and nail to keep 1.5 alive, and it is clear that climate vulnerable countries and frontline communities are the ones doing the heavy lifting.” 

Auimatagi Joe Moeono-Kolio, Chief Advisor (Pacific) of the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative

"After 30 years of climate talks, the COP28 outcome finally mentioned fossil fuels but fell short setting a clear plan to phase them out. The bar is so low now that we are expected to applaud incremental gains from this low altitude flying, low ambition COP presidency.

"Small Island States from the Pacific and across the world pushed relentlessly for a science-based fossil fuel phase-out and a genuine just transition package with finance and equity at its core. The fact that they could not break through the consensus-based framework of the UNFCCC emphasises the need for a new process that can complement this process, a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty. It will allow nations committed to real climate action to negotiate and implement the transition away from fossil fuels in a way that is not just far, but also fair.”

Chelsea Hunnisett, Policy and Advocacy Manager at Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA)


"While the global community didn't get everything we needed from COP28, this is clearly the beginning of the end for fossil fuels. The Albanese Government has used its time on the global stage to reposition Australia as a global climate and health leader - now its time to act.


"We must take charge and cease fossil fuel extraction, eliminate fossil fuel subsidies and fund the implementation of the National Health and Climate Strategy. If we don't, generations of Australians will pay the price. And our leaders will be to blame."

Richie Merzian, International Director Smart Energy Council

“This Dubai climate conference has delivered an outcome that finally names and shames the key climate culprit – fossil fuels in our energy system. For the first time nations agreed on tripling renewables this decade and transitioning away from fossil fuels to achieve net zero by 2050. 

"The unintended focus on fossil fuels from the COP Presidency helped deliver an outcome that has eluded climate negotiators for the last 30 years. Businesses and investors, here on mass in Dubai, now leave with a shared direction to invest in clean and green energy systems across the world, and financing this will be a big focus for COP29.

"The writing instructions are also set for nations to develop new emission reduction targets in line with 1.5 degree pathways and submit them ahead of COP30.

“It is concerning that false solutions like carbon capture and storage were elevated in the decision and that there is a role for ‘transition fuels’ in energy security that could include gas. However, it does not overshadow the clear direction taken by the global community which is to back in renewables and step back from fossil fuels.” 

Alex Rafalowicz, Executive Director of the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty

"Having the words 'fossil fuels' in the text is an important political signal, but it's a far cry from the 'historic' outcome we were all calling for - it is the weakest we could have gotten, it has all the intentionally vague words planted to deceive us, and it is still very reliant on all the unproven technologies we must avoid. Those most responsible for the climate crisis did not bring finance, technology, or actions to start phasing out fossil fuels, instead they brought hollow hypocrisy that poisoned the talks just as they are poisoning life on Earth.

"The vested interests of a few did everything they could to drown out the voices of people and science. OPEC said this would be an irreversible tipping point, and it will be. The record number of fossil fuel lobbyists at this COP was proof that the industry is desperate to defend their interests at the expense of life. They're merchants of death, but their days are numbered - and they know it."

Professor Johanna Nalau, adaptation scientist with a PhD in climate change adaptation at Griffith University (attended COP28 but has returned to Australia)

"The global climate convention has agreed on a framework for the Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA). The GGA articulates the level of resilience the world much achieve to be considered "resilient” in a changing climate. Australia has played a critical role in co-facilitating these negotiations with Assistant Minister Jenny McAllister leading discussions with Chile’s Minister of Environment Maisa Rojas. 


"The GGA has clear ambition: it is a goal for all of humanity that aims to deliver significant improvements across health, food systems, water, ecosystems and biodiversity, infrastructure and human settlements, poverty, and cultural heritage. The GGA showcases our aspirations as a global community to reduce risks to all communities from climate change, including Australia, and set time-bound targets for the attainment of these aspirational levels of resilience.


"It recognises the need for transformational change given the urgency of climate impacts, and the key role that science plays in adaptation in developing evidence-based indicators. Now with the framework in place, it works as a launchpad for global indicators, metrics and targets for resilience and will provide us with the insight how the world is truly adapting and moving towards greater resilience for all."


Natalie Collard, Farmers for Climate Action CEO (attended COP28 and is travelling back to Australia)

“It was great to take the concerns of Australian farmers onto the world stage at COP28 in Dubai. We’re thrilled our farmer video was shown on a loop to delegates from around the world, in the Australian area. There were 80,000 attendees from around the globe and they exchanged some great ideas and this creates huge opportunity. What’s clear is the markets who buy our produce are moving to reduce carbon pollution quickly and expect us to move too. This also creates huge opportunity. We need deep emissions reductions across all sectors so Australia can keep growing food in sustainable farming businesses."

Reaction from Australia:

Serena Joyner, CEO of Bushfire Survivors for Climate Action:
"As people who face the very real threats of climate-fuelled bushfires, we stand with our Pacific neighbours in saying compromise isn't good enough. Ramping up renewable energy and phasing out coal and gas is our region’s greatest opportunity to unite and protect our right to a safe and liveable climate."


Contact details:

Rebecca Gredley at or 0484 008 095
Emily Watkins at or 0420 622 408


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