13 Dec 2023, 13:47
Sören Amelang Julian Wettengel

COP28 deal – Reactions from Germany and Europe

Photo shows COP28 venue in Dubai at night. Photo: CLEW/Wettengel.
Photo: CLEW/Wettengel.

German and European politicians, scientists, businesses and civil society have overwhelmingly welcomed the key message of this year’s UN climate change conference COP28 in Dubai: the agreement to "transition away" from fossil fuels. The German government said the deal sends the historic signal that international cooperation is still possible in times of geopolitical tensions. While researchers pointed out that the agreement was still insufficient to tackle the climate crisis, politicians and industry emphasised that it should send a signal to the market that the future is not in fossil fuels. But NGOs and activists criticised that the final text leaves too much wriggle room for the continued use of fossil fuels, and is too vague on other topics.

Government and politicians

Annalena Baerbock, German foreign minister

“This climate conference seals the end of the fossil fuel era,” said German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock in Dubai. “Anyone who can do the maths knows that investments in fossil fuels are not profitable in the long term.” She added that the outcome of the conference is “historic” not just as a progress on climate action, “but also a sign of hope in these hard geopolitical times that multilateralism still works, if we are willing to come out of our comfort zones.”


Jennifer Morgan, German state secretary and special envoy for international climate action

“Today at COP28, world adopted historic decision that is strongly guided by 1.5 C limit,” Morgan said on X. “There is an unmistakable signal that future is renewables & not fossil fuels. For 1st time, countries made decision to transition away from FF, accelerating action in this critical decade. In one year, working in collaboration with the most vulnerable countries, we together created a loss and damage fund and capitalized it so it can get up and running and support those suffering from climate impacts. Today, we showed that multilateralism delivers. Tomorrow, we drive these decisions forward. We must be fast. We must be deliberate, with ambition and solidarity for climate justice.”


European climate commissioner Wopke Hoekstra

Today is "a day to salute the fact that humanity has finally done what is long, long, long overdue. 30 years we've spent to arrive at the beginning of the end of fossil fuels. And to bridge our ambition on adaptation, finance, and mitigation. To get concrete and actionable on 1.5C as scientists have urged us to do for so long."


Robert Habeck, German economy and climate minister

“The path to a climate-friendly future has finally been paved. At COP28, the international community committed itself for the first time to moving away from all fossil fuels and to a massive expansion of wind and solar energy, especially by 2030. This is a clear signal to companies, markets and investors: the energy of the future is renewable and will be used efficiently.”

“COP28 shows that the Paris Agreement is gaining momentum and that there is a great willingness to change among countries, companies and all other stakeholders. Now is the time to seize this moment and realise the great opportunities for transformation.”


Dirk Messner, head of Germany’s Federal Environment Agency (UBA)

“For the first time, the world climate negotiations agree to abandon all fossil fuels and reaffirm the goal of becoming climate-neutral on a global scale by the middle of the century. This means that the international community is finally recognising what science has long been calling for. The fossil fuel era must come to an end in order to prevent dangerous climate change, safeguard our prosperity and preserve the prospects of future generations,” Messner said on X.


German development minister Svenja Schulze

“The world urgently needed such a signal of unity in these difficult times. This conference has succeeded in rebuilding trust between Europe and the developing countries,” Schulze said in a press release. “The good start with the rapid agreement on the new fund for dealing with climate damage has contributed to this.” The transition away from fossil fuels “is a process that needs to be shaped in a socially just way. This is precisely what we will now work on together with all our strength. One thing must be clear: This transition cannot be put on the back burner, but must be completed for the most part in this decade and the next. Another important outcome of the conference is the first-ever agreement on a comprehensive framework for adapting to climate change.”


German environment minister Steffi Lemke

“We have initiated the phase-out of fossil fuels and the entry into the renewable era. At the same time, the decision shows that we can only achieve the necessary reduction in emissions and adaptation to the climate crisis with an intact natural environment. For the first time, we have agreed in a final declaration to halt deforestation by 2030, to prioritise the protection of ecosystems on land and in the oceans and to stabilise water cycles - and all of this is closely linked to the goals of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.”

“The concrete implementation in Germany and worldwide remains the central task for us. We have the solutions. I will now do everything in my power to ensure that we get them off the ground quickly.”


Bas Eickhout, member of the European Parliament

“The overall message coming out of this is quite positive and pretty close to what the EU had in its mandate.” However, the success of COP28 would be measured by how countries implement the results. The EU would be one of the first to decide a target for 2040, with the Commission to present a proposal by early 2024. “Europe is obliged to show how we are going to draft our 2040 target without fossils in the energy system,” said Eickhout. “If the world needs to be at zero in 2050, we need to be at zero in 2040.”


Dan Jørgensen, Denmark’s minister for global climate policy

“There is no doubt – if you look at the European Union’s key messages going in – that we should be very happy,” said Dan Jørgensen, Denmark’s minister for global climate policy. “If you were to point out one item on which the EU made a huge difference, it is on the targets for renewable energy and efficiency. No doubt that was on the table because of the European Union and we succeeded to get it through.” Still, the result is not a perfect text, Jørgensen told Clean Energy Wire. “The EU is also on the side of the developing world and especially the small island states that are hit the hardest by climate change. We could have done more for them.”

“This is a very good point of departure for future EU targets. We now have a signal that will probably also be reflected in the markets. We will now compete on who can make this transition the fastest.”


Researchers and think tanks

Niklas Höhne, IPCC author and expert at NewClimate Institute

The COP28 text has been improved but is “insufficient” for the climate emergency, Höhne said on X. "’Transitioning away from fossil fuels’ is not the needed emergency break,” he added, pointing to “large loopholes for fossil fuels” in the long term. “Not a clear signal for fossil phase out.”


Ottmar Edenhofer, Director of the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PiK)

"Now we are talking about the end of the fossil age - that is real progress," Edenhofer said in a press release. "It is welcome that the COP document clarifies that [CCS] should be used for hard-to-abate sectors, and not for a general 'business as usual' approach. The COP's statements on the expansion of [renewable energies] and on financial aid to compensate for climate damage and for climate change adaptation are also positive [...] In order to rapidly reduce the consumption of fossil fuels worldwide, we now need credible announcements of continuous price increase through CO2 pricing, and financial compensation for the population and the economy [...] Climate tariffs as announced by the EU and a climate club as initiated by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in the context of the G7 can help to ensure that the end of the fossil age proclaimed by the COP can actually be heralded. "


Industry and business

Holger Lösch, deputy managing director at industry association BDI

The outcome of COP28 is “an important signal for companies that are on the transformation path to climate neutrality and are aligning their investments and planning accordingly,” said Holger Lösch, deputy managing director at industry association BDI. All countries now had to step up their climate action efforts. “This is also important for improving the competitive conditions for German industry vis-à-vis its international competitors.”


Civil society

Carolin Friedemann, Managing Director of the Initiative Climate Neutral Germany (IKND)

"The agreement by the international community for the first time on a ‘transition’ away from fossil fuels is a turning point in global climate protection policy. The wording may still be soft, but the signal is fundamental. This also applies to the overwhelming majority of countries that are now in favour of ambitious climate protection. It is important to remember that climate protection is not an end in itself, but protects the foundations of our lives and also triggers a surge in modernisation and innovation. As is so often the case at the end of major conferences, words must now urgently be followed by action. With the Climate Club, the international interest in CO2 trading systems and the Global Methane Pledge, there are already signs of movement here," Friedemann said in a press release.


Jan Kowalzig, Oxfam Germany

Kowalzig welcomed the agreements found in Dubai. However, “the result also has some worrying downsides and loopholes, including the emphasis on the role of natural gas as a transitional solution. Producing countries and the fossil fuel industry will see this as a licence to expand gas production. The capture and storage of greenhouse gases, an expensive and unavailable technology on a large scale, is also being played as a solution, but ultimately only serves fossil interests and unnecessarily distracts from the urgently needed expansion of renewable energies. The OPEC countries can rejoice.”


Viviane Raddatz, head of climate and energy policy at WWF Germany

“For the first time, at the 28th COP, we finally said that fossil fuels have to be phased out of the energy system, step by step. That is an extremely important signal to countries to actually follow up on this,” said Viviane Raddatz. “For all EU countries, this means to take it up a notch from the Fit for 55 package of climate and energy legislation.”


Clara Duvigneau, activist at Fridays for Future Germany

“The final statement of COP 28 sets an important course by moving away from fossil fuels. However, a consistent phase-out of fossil fuels is needed in order to comply with the Paris Agreement - merely recognising the right direction is completely inadequate and fails to recognise the realities and urgency of the climate crisis. The climate conference failed to achieve many things. Many loopholes, unresolved issues and room for interpretation remain, which tempt us to continue with fossil-fuelled policies. It is now up to the states to push ahead with their national climate protection ambitions more than ever and implement consistent measures. For Germany, this means in concrete terms: no new fossil fuel deals and the abolition of all fossil fuel subsidies."

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