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December 13, 2023

Editor’s note: historic COP28 agreement comes with ‘a litany of loopholes’

Logo of COP28
COP28 has concluded with a final agreement on the ‘global stocktake’ document (Photo: Giuseppe Cacace/AFP via Getty Images)

The latest edition of our Sustainable Views newsletter

Dear reader,

COP28 has concluded with a final agreement that was defined as representing a “watershed moment”, but also one that was littered by “loopholes”.

In the final “global stocktake” text, fossil fuels are called by name as something the world needs to move away from. There is an explicit call for “transitioning away” from them (though only in energy systems – which some view as a weakening of the previous draft). The 1.5C Paris Agreement goal and a clearer “by 2050” deadline are mentioned in the final text, in the same context.

This is all greatly positive, as even usually critical environmental non-profits agreed.

Though the inclusion of terms such as “abatement”, “carbon capture and utilization and storage technology” and “transitional fuels” raised alarm. 

US vice-president Al Gore said “the influence of petrostates is still evident in the half measures and loopholes included in the final agreement”, echoing the views of the Alliance of Small Island States.

Head to our COP round-up, where the team has fleshed out the good, the bad and the missing from the final agreement, and added a number of key views and context around those issues.

Speaking of contentious subjects, you may find Florence’s analysis of CCS technology particularly useful; as well as her well-researched and chart-packed deep dive into sustainable aviation fuels.

Meanwhile, as sustainability practitioners digest the global stocktake, they may also be thinking about how to ensure staff have the best chance to implement the required climate policies to meet policymakers’ expectations.

Alex Edmans of the London Business School has a few ideas. In an opinion piece, he argues against the academic world’s seeming obsession with ESG teaching hours and warns about the risks of educational greenwashing.

It’s a fascinating read (which we have placed in front of the paywall), and tackles a subject at the very core of creating serious, well-informed corporate sustainability plans.

Wishing you a productive post-COP day, 


Silvia Pavoni is the editor of Sustainable Views 

A service from the Financial Times