COP28: WWF says “Earth is down but not out” as countries agree to transition away from fossil fuels

WWF-Canada available to comment on what agreement means for climate change policy in Canada

Dubai, United Arab Emirates (13 December): In a significant moment for global climate action, countries at the COP28 UN climate summit have agreed to transition away from fossil fuels but fail to commit to a full phase out.

WWF-Canada representatives attended the summit, to advocate for increased support for Indigenous-led nature-based climate solutions that will help Canada close the gap between our climate ambitions and actions.

A group of people on stage with an audience
Participants on stage during the Closing Plenary at the UN Climate Change Conference COP28 in Dubai on December 13, 2023 © UNFCCC (Photo by COP28 / Anthony Fleyhan)

Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, WWF Global Climate and Energy Lead, and COP20 President, said:

“The Earth is down but not out, as countries agree to transition away from fossil fuels, but fall short of consensus on the full phase out of coal, oil and gas at COP28. Nevertheless, a decision to transition away from fossil fuels is a significant moment. After three decades of UN climate negotiations, countries have at last shifted the focus to the polluting fossil fuels driving the climate crisis. This outcome signals the beginning of the end for the fossil fuel era.

“It is unfortunate that the outcome suggests a role for dangerous distractions such as large-scale carbon capture utilization and storage and ‘transitional fuels’. For a liveable planet we still need a full phase out of all fossil fuels and will continue working towards that.

“The Global Stocktake is clear that eight years on from the Paris Agreement, we are still way off course to limit global warming to 1.5oC and avert the worst impacts of the climate crisis. In this critical decade, all countries must enhance the ambition and implementation of climate action. It is vital that countries work now to transform their energy systems and replace polluting fossil fuels with clean and cheaper renewable energy, such as wind and solar, at an unprecedented speed and scale.”


Mary MacDonald, WWF-Canada Senior Vice President of Conservation, said:

Committing to transition away from fossil fuels is an important milestone on the path toward the phase out commitment that science tells us is needed. While we had hoped for a stronger commitment, this is a turning point since — almost unbelievably — the UNFCCC signatories as a group have refused to include any language on fossil fuels, before now allowing only language on emissions, since these negotiations started nearly 30 years ago.

International negotiations like these are important as they set the tone and expectations for real-world actions from all levels of governments, industries and civil societies. We know that real action on climate change is already underway, and this firm global commitment to move away from fossil fuels will help direct support and funding to the on-the-ground projects making a difference for climate and nature.


Stephen Cornelius, WWF Deputy Global Climate and Energy Lead, said:

“Finance is key to unlocking climate action. The early decision to operationalize the Loss and Damage Fund was a critical step. The many pledges we have heard at COP28, while welcome, are a drop in the ocean compared to what is needed. The funding pot will now need to grow by orders of magnitude to adequately help people in harm’s way. The need for loss and damage and adaptation funding will only continue to rise rapidly if countries do not invest more in cutting emissions and phasing out polluting fossil fuels.”


Fernanda Carvalho, WWF Global Climate and Energy Policy Lead, said:

“Along with phasing out fossil fuels, nature is integral to effective climate action. It is disappointing to see countries not including the recommendation by the IPCC to protect 30 to 50% of all ecosystems. This should have been the moment where countries committed to tackle the climate and nature emergencies in parallel. Action to restore nature and transform food systems is vital to reduce emissions and build greater resilience to rising temperatures. While countries again recognized the importance of nature-based solutions, we should have seen ambition on combined climate-nature action increasing, particularly in the wake of the landmark Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework agreed this time last year.”


Notes to editors:

For interviews or more information, contact Rebecca Spring, Senior communications manager, WWF-Canada, [email protected] or [email protected]


WWF and COP28

WWF’s COP information is here: