The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is an international treaty ratified by 198 parties (197 countries, as well as the European Union). Article 7 of the Convention established the Conference of the Parties – also known as COP –, the supreme body of the Convention, which holds a conference each year to promote the effective implementation of the Convention and its climate targets. COP serves as a platform to enhance the exchange of information on their different approaches to mitigating and adapting to the adverse effects of climate change, and for states to assume compromises in order to achieve the goals.

This year’s COP, the COP28 was held between November 30th and December 12th, and as the main outcome of the negotiations, the countries agreed on a decision titled the “First global stocktake”. The agreement includes multiple important and novel declarations in relation to the fight against climate change, and because of this, it is even argued to be of historical importance.

First, it declares the importance of 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. These kinds of fuels – coal, oil, and gas – are believed to be responsible for over 75 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, and this is the first COP decision stating that transitioning away from them is necessary for achieving the climate targets.

Second, when emphasizing the importance of accelerating zero- and low-emission technologies, the agreement explicitly refers to nuclear energy as well. This is also considered to be a landmark decision, as previously, COP has not made any commitments towards nuclear energy, and the role of nuclear energy in the energy transition is often debated in international platforms.

The agreement also recognizes the importance of making progress until 2030, thus includes other ambitious, shorter-term goals. These include the acceleration of the reduction of non-carbon-dioxide, including particularly methane emissions, tripling renewable’s energy capacity at a global level and doubling the global average annual rate of energy efficiency improvement. The agreement calls on to the parties to contribute to the global efforts in a nationally determined manner.

The 2050 and 2030 ambitions reflect the EU’s regional climate-related goals, expressed mainly in the Green Deal which aims to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 and the ‘Fit for 55’ legislative package, which includes the ‘effort sharing regulation’ that sets an EU-level greenhouse gas emission reduction target of 40% by 2030. The goals referenced in COP28’s First global stocktake agreement are thus in alignment with the EU goals, but with the expansion to the global community. This signals that following the EU legislative developments may also contribute to understanding the global climate trends, and international legislation to come for achieving those goals.

Besides the adoption of the First global stocktake, as a necessary step towards achieving mitigation and adaption goals, countries also announced financial pledges to contribute to climate financing. The made commitments in relation to the Green Climate Fund, the Least Developed Countries Fund, and the Special Climate Change Fund.

The developments of the COP28 show that we are facing challenging but necessary changes that will undoubtedly have a major impact on everyone's daily lives and will take the form of new regulations, compliance with which will be crucial in the coming decades.