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What Happened at COP28 and What Comes Next?

December 12, 2023 – I flew back from Dubai a few days ago from the UN Climate Summit, or COP28. For a better part of two weeks, FGS Global was out in force, providing trusted counsel and support for two UN special envoys for climate and leading companies, coalitions, and philanthropic organizations – which placed us at the heart of the action.

  • We promoted initiatives like the ALTÉRRA Fund and Industrial Transition Accelerator that will help get emissions down in the next few years and help keep 1.5°C alive.

  • We supported programs that will strengthen climate finance capacity building and technical assistance for financial institutions in emerging markets, establish a new Global Climate Finance Centre to accelerate global climate finance and market design, and enhance accountability in methane and across the corporate world through the Net-Zero Data Public Utility (NZDPU or the Utility), which will be the world’s first global, centralized, open repository for private sector climate transition-related data freely accessible to all.

  • We helped bring global attention to the Local Climate Action Summit (LCAS), which brought 500 mayors, governors, and other local leaders from over 60 countries together at COP28. Following an announcement from Bloomberg Philanthropies about a new $65 million commitment in support of local leadership around the world, the second day of LCAS saw over 40 announcements and new research about local climate action and the impact of climate change on subnationals.

  • Our team working with the UAE Embassy in Washington helped strengthen ties between the UAE and the US, including by supporting congressional delegations to COP28, and helping to advance the flagship AIM for Climate initiative on climate-smart agriculture and food-systems innovation, which has blossomed to $17 billion in funding.

  • FGS Global also organized an event at COP28 for chief communications officers, together with the Arthur W. Page Society and Mubadala Investment Company, and even recorded a podcast featuring two of our best and brightest COP leaders – available here for your listening pleasure.

When the plane touched down in New York, I thought about what the whirlwind of announcements, pledges, alliances, and record-setting attendance would mean for the ‘rubber meets the road’ portion of the COP – negotiations. Was there enough momentum to impact and improve a traditionally intense, slow, and often disappointing process?

As of the official final day of COP28 – December 12 – the answer seems to be: maybe? After an initial impasse, officials now seem optimistic a deal can be reached in the coming hours.

Parties to the COP (aka governments) are deadlocked over the final negotiated text, which essentially serves as a to-do list for the incoming COP29 presidency (more on that below). The word of the day (and COP in general) is ‘consensus’ – for better or worse, all parties must find common ground on language. (If you think it’s hard moving a bill through the US Congress, try getting 200 nations of different sizes, beliefs, political systems, economies, and priorities to co-write a manifesto.) The most contentious impasse this year, as expected, is over whether parties will agree on language calling for the ‘phase out or phase down’ of fossil fuels.

** Update, Dec. 13, 2023 ** - The COP28 parties, under the UAE presidency, reached a historic agreement that calls for the “transitioning away from fossil fuels.” Dubbed the “UAE Consensus,” the text does what no COP before it was able to do: make explicit reference to moving the world beyond oil and gas.

Separate from the negotiations, several additional outcomes from COP28 are worth noting.

Energy and decarbonization

  • More than 120 countries signed the Global Renewables and Energy Efficiency Pledge, agreeing to triple worldwide installed renewable energy generation capacity.

  • More than 35 countries signed the UAE Hydrogen Declaration of Intent, agreeing to endorse a global certification standard and to recognize existing certification schemes, helping to unlock global trade in low-carbon hydrogen.

  • More than 50 companies, representing over 40 percent of global oil production have signed on to the Oil and Gas Decarbonization Charter (OGDC), committing to zero methane emissions and ending routine flaring by 2030, and to total net-zero operations by 2050 at the latest.

  • Separate from the OGDC, the COP28 Presidency, UNFCCC, and Bloomberg Philanthropies launched the Industrial Transition Accelerator (ITA), which will accelerate decarbonization across key heavy-emitting sectors and encourage policymakers, technical experts and financial backers to work hand-in-hand with industries to unlock investment and rapidly scale the implementation and delivery of emissions-reduction projects.

  • Over 60 countries signed up to a Global Cooling Pledge to reduce the climate impact of the cooling sector and provide “universal access to life-saving cooling, take the pressure off energy grids and save trillions of dollars by 2050.”

  • More than 20 countries from four continents launched the Declaration to Triple Nuclear Energy, followed by the United States, Canada, France, Japan, and the United Kingdom announcing plans to mobilize $4.2 billion in government-led investments to develop a secure, reliable global nuclear energy supply chain.

Climate finance

  • The UAE launched a $30 billion catalytic fund, ALTÉRRA, with an emphasis on unlocking private finance across the Global South. The UAE also announced $200 million for SDRs and $150 million for water scarcity.

  • The loss and damage fund was operationalized at COP28, and $725 million has already been pledged.

  • Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) announced commitments that will provide over $180 billion in additional climate finance.

  • Major international financial institutions and countries made new commitments to offer climate-resilient debt clauses (CRDCs) in their lending. These clauses allow debt service to be paused to provide breathing space when countries are hit by climate catastrophes. The UK, France, World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), European Investment Bank (EIB), European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and African Development Bank (AfDB) made new commitments to expand CRDCs in their lending. In total, 73 countries asked donors to expand these clauses by 2025.

Food systems


  • At the Local Climate Action Summit (LCAS) held at the beginning of COP28, more than 60 countries launched the Coalition for High Ambition Multilevel Partnerships for Climate Action (CHAMP) initiative and announced nearly $500 million in climate finance for urban infrastructure.

  • Additional announcements at COP28 included the ‘Cement and Concrete Breakthrough’ and ‘Buildings Breakthrough’, which will mobilize governments to finance solutions that are critical to healthier, more sustainable, and more equitable human settlements.

Finally, as recently as December 8, following months of geopolitical deadlock on where the next COP will be held, the best guess among insiders was that the climate summit was destined for Bonn, Germany, which headquarters the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. On December 9, everything changed. The 29th edition of the UN Climate Summit will be held in Baku, Azerbaijan. FGS Global will see you there.


Kaveh Farzad is a Director in FGS Global’s Washington DC office, where he develops and leads communications and policy campaigns to help global clients achieve their reputational, business, and political objectives in the US and around the world.

Editor's note: This report has been updated to reflect the adoption of the COP28 climate agreement by the parties on 13 December 2023.

Download the article to understand the key outcomes from COP28.