COP28’s final hours of climate negotiations


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COP28’s final hours of climate negotiations

NEGOTIATIONS. Representatives gather, on the day of COP28 draft deal negotiations, during the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, December 12, 2023.

Amr Alfiky/Reuters

(2nd UPDATE) Here are the scenes and insights during the last stretch of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Dubai

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – The COP28 climate summit went into overtime Wednesday morning, December 13, with negotiators trying to reach a deal for this year’s United Nations meeting. Reuters reporters were on the ground delivering the latest updates, scenes, and insights during the hoped-for final hours.

All times local (GMT+4)

Editor’s Note: Dubai is 4 hours behind Manila.

Wednesday, December 13
11:15 am

The plenary erupts in applause as the COP28 deal is adopted.

10:42 am

After taking in the proposed deal, country representatives started gathering in the COP28 plenary hall, where there is some chance the text will be formally adopted.

Reactions to the text have so far been mainly positive, with some exceptions.

The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), which represents countries disproportionately vulnerable to climate change including sea level rise, said it was not ambitious enough, China said the proposal was not perfect, and several delegates said it failed to address finance.

Importantly, there has been no word yet from members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries on whether the text is acceptable.

7:09 am

The text of the deal proposed by the COP Presidency has been published.

The deal, which needs to be approved by the summit, recognizes “the need for deep, rapid, and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions” and calls for parties to contribute to “transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly, and equitable manner, accelerating action in this critical decade, so as to achieve net zero by 2050 in keeping with the science.”

It also lists seven other steps to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

1:13 am

The UN climate body that runs the COP process has issued a notice saying new deal texts are intended to be published at 6 am (0200 GMT), followed by a plenary session with the COP28 president at 9:30 am.

If a deal has been reached, countries would approve during that plenary session. If issues remain, there could be further iterations of the text.

The notice popped up on television screens dotted around the media center and prompted many of the last remaining reporters to head back to their hotels (or at least the nearest sofa) for a few hours sleep.

Note: COP timings have a habit of slipping back, but things rarely happen earlier than expected.

12:01 am

For the second day in a row, meetings continue past midnight at the summit.

On Tuesday night, December 12, heads of delegations talked until the early hours, reacting to a draft text that failed to impress many of the nearly 200 nations attending the summit.

More than 24 hours later and there still isn’t a new text from the presidency. A new one is expected sometime after the end of the meetings, which is currently scheduled for 3 am local time Wednesday (2300 GMT Tuesday).

“There’s improvements from yesterday’s language in some areas,” said Cedric Schuster, minister of natural resources and the environment for Samoa. On the key issue of wording around the future of fossil fuels, Schuster said he would wait to see the whole package before judging.

Tuesday, December 12
11:30 pm

The flurry of consultations with the COP28 presidency continues, with representatives from several different nations and negotiating blocs coming and going from one of the dozens of meeting buildings spread throughout the sprawling site.

Outside, reporters are mingling under artificial lights to catch delegates on their way out and get a read on the latest developments.

A steady beat of drum and bass drifts across from a nearby restaurant, one of the few that remain open within the venue.

10:46 pm

Delegates from AOSIS have been pushing hard for strong language around phasing out fossil fuels in the final deal text. Late Tuesday, they were also hungry. A group of them was seen returning to the COP28 meeting rooms carrying several bags of KFC.

9:50 pm

Brazil’s chief negotiator Andre Correa do Lago told reporters there would likely be a deal during the night, “so late it’s early.”

He said the issues of raising ambition and finance were still open and many more meetings were scheduled before a deal is finalized.

9:35 pm

A spokesperson for the COP28 host confirmed it’s going to be a long night in Dubai.

“Overnight and throughout today, the COP28 president and his team have been engaging in extensive consultations with a wide representation of negotiating groups and Parties. This is to ensure everyone is heard, and all views are considered. He is determined to deliver a version of the text that has the support of all Parties. Consultations will continue until 3 am GST.”

9:25 pm

Omani negotiator Said Hamed Al Sarmi explained the position of some oil producer countries opposing language that targets fossil fuels in the final text.

“We feel it’s our right to grow and to have a share of the remaining carbon budget,” he said. “In the Paris Agreement, there is no mention of targeting the sources, we are targeting the emissions. The region, the countries here, are working so hard to gain the technology to reduce the emissions.”

9:23 pm

Out in the main concourse of the conference venue, groups of delegates who were not caught up in the negotiations gathered to eat before the catering outlets shut down.

Others, anticipating a long night ahead, tried to grab a little sleep on slightly too-small-to-be-comfortable sofas.

There were also goodbyes as those who had planned on an on-schedule end to the talks hugged colleagues and wheeled their suitcases out, headed to the airport with the fate of the summit still undecided.

9:05 pm

Canada Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault said he just had a positive meeting with the COP28 presidency.

“I feel very encouraged. Much more encouraged than I was yesterday. We will see in a few hours exactly what the text will look like,” he told reporters.

“I think they listened. The message they heard loud and clear last night…the text that was presented to us did not go far enough.”

“I think it’s going to be some hours before we see a new text, and I suspect it will be the last.”

8:58 pm

US Special Climate Envoy John Kerry popped out of a meeting with representatives from several other delegations and said the fossil fuel language in the COP28 deal text was getting stronger.

“I think there’s progress and moving in the right direction. And you know, we’re going to keep working through the night. But it’s in a very different place from where we were yesterday,” he told reporters. –

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