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| 12 minutes read

COP28: first results

COP28, the United Nations climate summit, started in Dubai on 30 November 2023 and will run until 12 December. This year’s conference has attracted a record number of participants – over 80,000 – including heads of state, government officials, industry leaders, private sector representatives and other non-state actors. COP negotiations are never easy but this year is expected to be one of the most challenging. The physical impacts of climate change this year have been the worst so far and the geo-political and economic backdrop is also the most complex it’s been in a long time. 

This year’s COP is also the “Global Stocktake”. But what does that actually mean? Under the Paris Climate Agreement (which was agreed at a COP in 2015), a number of countries committed to limiting global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius and ideally to below 1.5C compared to pre-industrial levels. COP28 is the first ever Global Stocktake – that is, an evaluation of progress made so far against the goals of the Paris Agreement, and a plan on how to fix the inevitable shortcomings. Negotiations on what that plan should entail, including difficult discussions on the phasing out (or phasing down) of (unabated) fossil fuels, will no doubt continue until the last day of the conference. 

In the meantime, we look at some of the key announcements made so far during the first days of COP28, in particular during the Finance Day (4 December) and Energy Day (5 December). 


According to the second report of the Independent High-Level Expert Group on Climate Finance (IHLEG), at least US$1 trillion a year of private capital will be needed in emerging markets and developing countries (EMDCs) excluding China by 2030 to meet climate and development goals. According to the most recent scientific reports, the world is badly offtrack on meeting the temperature goals in the Paris Agreement. One of the key reasons is insufficient investment in key areas, particularly in EMDCs. 

According to the IHLEG, an integrated approach is needed that boosts all sources of finance – public and private, domestic and international – and uses their complementary strengths. It is estimated that international private finance to EMDCs for climate action will need to increase by more than 15 times the current levels. And the role of multilateral development banks (MDBs) will need to change fundamentally and the scale of their support will need to triple by 2030. Also, a fivefold increase in concessional finance is needed by 2030. 

Despite big announcements made during the first days of COP28, the question remains to what extent all declared measures could close these financing gaps. 

Loss and damage fund

During COP27 last year, nearly 200 countries agreed to create a fund which will assist developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change – known as the “loss and damage” fund. 

On the first day of COP28, the fund received the first monetary pledges. According to the COP28 press release, the UAE committed US$100 million to the fund, and other countries making notable commitments included Germany ($100 million), the UK (£40 million for the fund and £20 million for other arrangements), Japan ($10 million) and the US ($17.5 million). In total, countries have pledged US$725 million so far for the loss and damage fund. However, this amount looks rather small in comparison with $57 billion mobilised by COP28 for other climate-related initiatives.

Throughout the past year, nations have argued over issues such as who will contribute to the fund, who can benefit from it, and on what conditions. After much debate, it was agreed before the start of COP28 that the World Bank would act as an interim host, although some (including developing countries) remain concerned that the World Bank may not be able to mobilise funds with sufficient speed when needed.

The fund will distribute both loans and grants and will be able to rely on private contributions as well as innovative sources of financing. The final details of how exactly the loss and damage fund will operate will be decided by the World Bank and the UNFCCC (the United Nations’ climate body).

Climate-resilient debt clauses

Major international financial institutions and countries made new commitments to offer climate-resilient debt clauses (CRDCs) in their loans (see for example here). These clauses allow debt service to be paused in case of climate catastrophes. 

The UK, France, as well as the World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), European Investment Bank (EIB), European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the African Development Bank (AfDB) made new commitments to expand CRDCs in their lending. In total, over 70 countries have called on donors to expand the use of these clauses by 2025.  

In particular, the World Bank, in addition to halting the main loan repayments, would also pause debt interest payments for the most vulnerable countries in case of a climate disaster. The EBRD announced that, from 2024, it will add a clause to new loans agreements with sovereign and municipal clients allowing the deferral of payments by two years in the case of natural disasters. UK Export Finance has also agreed to add clauses to its loan agreements with Senegal and Guyana that allow for the deferral of debt payments in the wake of climate crises like hurricanes and floods. Fitch Ratings indicated their intention to consider revisions to credit rating criteria for loans to ensure use of CRDCs does not impose a burden for borrower countries.


The UAE announced the launch of ALTÉRRA, a new investment platform aimed at improving access to climate finance in emerging markets, with a particular focus on the Global South. Launching with a US$30 billion commitment from the UAE, the new platform aims to mobilise US$250 billion globally by 2030. Launch partners include BlackRock, Brookfield and TPG. 

ALTÉRRA will focus on four key priorities: energy transition, industrial decarbonization, sustainable living, and climate technologies. And it will have a two-part structure: (i) ALTÉRRA Acceleration (US$25 billion) that will serve as an anchor investor and co-investor in climate strategies, allocating capital both directly and through fund partnerships; and (ii) ALTÉRRA Transformation (US$5 billion) that will provide risk mitigation capital to incentivize investment flows into the Global South. ALTÉRRA Transformation will also create opportunities to leverage concessional finance to further attract climate investment to Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

ALTÉRRA’s initial capital investment would be for the development of over 6.0 GW of new clean energy capacity in India. This includes the construction of 1,200 MW of wind and solar projects that are expected to begin producing clean power by 2025. The partners are expected to mobilize capital from other institutional investors and global entities.

Energy Transition Accelerator

On 4 December 2023, the U.S. Department of State, the Bezos Earth Fund, and the Rockefeller Foundation launched the Energy Transition Accelerator (ETA). This  is a carbon finance platform aimed at catalysing private capital to support “just energy transition” in developing and emerging economies. This partnership was created a year ago during COP27 and according to the US Department of State press release, the aim is to formally establish the ETA as an independent initiative by Earth Day 2024 (22 April 2024) and then invite proposals from interested countries. Bank of America, Morgan Stanley and Standard Chartered were among the private sector parties supporting the ETA, alongside Amazon, Boston Consulting Group, Mastercard, McDonald’s, Morgan Stanley, PepsiCo, Salesforce and Schneider Electric. 

According to the US Department of State press release, the ETA could mobilise US$72 billion to $207 billion in transition finance by 2035. The ETA framework provides an overview of its key elements: (i) its approach to carbon crediting, including the development of an independent sectoral-scale crediting standard for emissions reductions from electricity generation; (ii) criteria for participating companies and information on how they would use ETA carbon credits to help meet their voluntary climate commitments; (iii) just transition provisions; (iv) plans to dedicate a portion of the finance to address adaptation and resilience in vulnerable countries; and (v) options for innovative financial structures to mobilise investment into energy transition strategies. Chile, the Dominican Republic, and Nigeria would be joining the ETA as pilot countries. 

The ETA’s success will depend on its ability to produce high-quality carbon credits that accurately reflect the emissions reduced. To generate carbon credits, national or regional governments would need to meet certain criteria, including having climate targets that cover power generation and a set of policies that are designed to help the shift away from fossil fuels, such as a commitment to end new permitting of coal-fired power plants or a pathway to zero out emissions by 2050. Five percent of the credits would go toward funding adaptation in developing countries, according to the framework.

Meanwhile, the world’s leading independent carbon crediting standards have announced a collaboration to enhance transparency and consistency across the market and increase the impact of activities under their standards. 

In a separate but related development, in the US, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has published proposed guidance and a request for public comment regarding the listing for trading of voluntary carbon credit derivative contracts for derivatives exchanges in relation to voluntary carbon credits. According to the CFTC press release, the proposed guidance is intended to help advance the standardisation of voluntary carbon credit derivative contracts and foster transparency and liquidity, accurate pricing, and market integrity. 

New contributions to Green Climate Fund

The Green Climate Fund, the UN-backed world’s largest climate fund dedicated to decarbonisation projects, received an additional US$3.5 billion in funding pledges from Switzerland, Portugal, Estonia and the US. The latter has pledged US$3 billion, although it first needs to get approval from Congress, which has previously blocked the full disbursement to the fund. Total pledges to the fund now stand at a record US$12.8 billion from 30 countries. The fund’s mandate is to foster a shift towards low-emission, climate-resilient development pathways in developing countries.


According to a recent United Nations report, the world is not on track to meet the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement, and with the current efforts, the global average temperature may rise from 2.5C to 2.9C – well above the maximum limit in the Paris Agreement. Research from the Center for International Climate Research (Cicero) (see here) showed that global carbon dioxide emissions from burning coal, oil and gas have reached a new record and are set to rise at a faster rate in 2023 than the 10-year average. 

Although the first days of COP28 brought some positive news with countries agreeing to triple renewable energy capacity and double energy efficiency, the EU and others are pushing for a global agreement to phase out fossil fuels. Negotiations over whether it is possible to agree wording on the phasing “down” or phasing “out” of fossil fuels are still ongoing and are one of the most contentious aspects of the conference. 

Global Renewables and Energy Efficiency Pledge

Over 100 governments pledged to triple the world's renewable energy capacity by 2030. Led by the European Union, United States and the UAE, countries committed to work together to triple the world’s installed renewable energy generation capacity to at least 11,000 GW by 2030. They have also committed to work together in order to double the global average annual rate of energy efficiency improvements from around 2% to over 4% every year until 2030. While China and India have signaled support for tripling renewable energy by 2030, neither backed the Global Renewables and Energy Efficiency Pledge.

Methane emissions

The US and EU launched a Global Methane Pledge in 2021 at COP26. The initiative, which targets a 30% reduction in the powerful greenhouse gas (GHG) by 2030, has now been signed by 155 countries, including Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. 

Developing nations and their national oil companies will be able to receive grants to target methane emissions under a new World Bank program - the Global Flaring and Methane Reduction Partnership. It will initially be capitalised with US$255 million in donations from the UAE, US, Germany, Norway, BP, ENI, Equinor, Occidental, Shell and TotalEnergies. To access support, companies will need to commit to cutting methane intensity by below 0.2%, halting routine flaring of natural gas by 2030 and measuring and reporting emissions.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a final rule that will sharply reduce methane and other harmful air pollutants from the oil and natural gas industry. It is designed to prevent 1.5 billion metric tons of GHG emissions. Oil and natural gas operations are the US’s largest industrial source of methane. 

Sharp cuts in methane emissions are among the most critical actions that can taken in the short term to slow the rate of climate change.

Oil and Gas Decarbonisation Charter

The Oil and Gas Decarbonization Charter (OGDC) was signed by 50 companies, representing more than 40% of global oil production. It is a key initiative under the Global Decarbonization Accelerator (a comprehensive action plan launched at COP28 to steer nations toward the 1.5C pathway of the Paris Agreement by committing to clean energy scale-ups and reducing emissions from methane production). 

OGDC signatories have committed to net-zero operations by 2050 at the latest, and ending routine flaring by 2030, and near-zero upstream methane emissions. They agree to continue to work towards industry best practices in emission reductions and a number of key actions, including investing in the energy system of the future (including renewables, low-carbon fuels and negative emissions technologies), increasing transparency (including enhancing reporting and independent verification of GHG emissions). 


Twenty-two countries, including France, the US and Japan, have signed a Declaration to triple nuclear energy capacity by 2050. The Declaration “recognises the key role of nuclear energy in achieving global net-zero GHG emissions by 2050 and keeping the 1.5-degree goal within reach”. Core elements of the Declaration include working together to advance a goal of tripling nuclear energy capacity globally by 2050, from 2023 levels, and inviting shareholders of international financial institutions to encourage the inclusion of nuclear energy in energy lending policies.


Coal power remains the single largest source of emissions globally. During COP28, nine new members, including the US and UAE, joined the Powering Past Coal Alliance (PPCA). This is a coalition of national and subnational governments, businesses and organisations working to advance the transition from unabated coal power generation to clean energy. It started six years ago and now counts 59 countries. 

By joining the PPCA, countries commit to not developing new unabated coal power plants and commit to phasing out existing unabated coal plants.

Although Japan is not a member of the PPCA, it announced that it will stop building new coal power plants by 2050 that do not feature technologies to capture the emissions.

Climate Club 

The German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, has officially launched the Climate Club, an initiative that was conceived last year at COP27 to tackle emissions from industry, with 36 countries signed up as members. The list included economies that are fossil fuel reliant, such as Argentina, Australia, Japan, Korea and Canada, and Spain - equivalent to 30% of global pollution. 

Members have committed to developing the “right strategies and standards” for a carbon-free industrial sector. The Climate Club will also help match countries with technical and financial support from both private and public sources. It is intended to become a key forum to encourage industry decarbonisation, notably in hard-to-abate sectors such as steel and cement. However, neither China nor India (the world’s largest steel producers) have signed up to the Climate Club.

Other key announcements 

Net-Zero Data Public Utility (NZDPU)

One of the key announcements on the sidelines of COP28 was the official launch of the Net-Zero Data Public Utility (NZDPU). This will act as the world’s first global, centralised database for private sector climate-related data and will be freely accessible. The NZDPU will provide information on corporate Scope 1, 2 and 3 GHG emissions, reduction targets and any transition-related data. 

The launch includes data for Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions, as well as GHG emissions reduction targets for more than 380 companies from more than 30 jurisdictions. It will be populated with the data from companies that disclose through climate data disclosure initiative CDP. A blueprint has also been provided for how the NZDPU plans to incorporate data disclosed under the EU ESRS and the ISSB climate disclosure standards into the tool in the future. A consultation will be open until 1 March 2024 for users to provide feedback on the future development of the tool. 

The Linklaters team is keeping a very close eye on developments and will let clients know what the final outcome of this year’s COP means in practice once the summit has concluded. We will be reporting on this year’s summit via our COP28 page.


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