19 December 2023

COP28 summary: a move away from fossil fuels and the Green Climate Fund

Following an extended 14-day conference in the UAE, the 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference(COP28) concluded on the 13th of December 2023. As ever, the annual climate conference beings together delegates from across the world to set the course for the future of the green economy.

Following COP21 and the almost unanimous decision to limit the rise in global temperatures to 1.5°C, these conferences typically focus on ways and means to meet this target, for instance by limiting the emission of carbon dioxide (one of the largest contributors to climate warming).

A move away from fossil fuels

One major outcome of COP28 was the agreement to transition away from fossil fuels in the energy sector ‘in a just, orderly and equitable manner’. This is to be achieved by a rapid expansion in renewable energy production and exploring emerging technologies such as carbon capture, usage, and storage (CCUS). Being hailed as the most important agreement for the climate since COP21, technologies that address this issue are likely to become a key sector of growth over the coming years.

Whilst the agreement was limited to the energy sector, away from COP28 we have seen numerous developments this year in the decarbonisation of those sectors which are more reliant on fossil fuels; namely the aviation and automotive sectors. The first transatlantic flight by a sustainably fuelled jet airliner took place just two days before the opening day of COP28, potentially paving the way for reducing the emissions of the most difficult sector to decarbonise. Furthermore sustainable fuels continue to see potential in the automotive sector, including in motorsport.

Green Climate Fund

The Green Climate Fund (GCF) was founded at COP17 on the basis of richer countries (historically responsible for the most carbon emissions) providing funding to mitigate the effects of climate change in poorer countries (often disproportionally affected by climate change). COP28 saw the GCF rise to $12.8Bn pledged from 31 countries and forms part of a larger commitment set out at COP15 for developed countries to commit $100Bn per annum towards affected countries. One of the purposes of the GCF is to accelerate and scale up climate innovation, including by encouraging more widespread adoption of proven climate solutions by enhancing financing of climate investments.  With the continued growth of the GCF, we might expect more investment to become available for innovators in this area.

Whilst not without its controversies, COP28 stands to reaffirm the importance of cleantech and the potential opportunities for innovation, particularly in the energy sector and in technologies relating to the replacement of fossil fuels in other sectors.

At Mathys & Squire, we work with many cleantech clients on green technology breakthroughs and sustainable solutions. We are pleased to partner with companies and inventors who are addressing climate change and whose initiatives further the objectives set forth by COP28.

James Bradley
Technical Assistant
Oliver Parish
Managing Associate