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COP28 Ends With Fossil Fuel Compromise, Many Unanswered Questions

U.S. climate envoy John Kerry (L) shakes hands with his Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua at the COP28 meeting in Dubai. Image: AFP

This year’s COP28 will likely be remembered for its epic fights about fossil fuel use. For the first time in the gathering’s history, an explicit commitment to “phase out” fossil fuels was on the agenda. The delegates didn’t get there, committing to “transition away” from hydrocarbons instead.

The shift also reflects the complexity of China’s position. Unlike the last few years marked by COVID and frosty U.S.-China relations, 2023 saw the superpowers engaging via the Sunnylands agreement negotiated between climate envoys John Kerry and Xie Zhenhua in November.

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