The “beginning of the end” of fossil fuels?
Climate, Health and Equity Brief

The “beginning of the end” of fossil fuels?

The Climate, Health & Equity Brief is GMMB’s take on the last two weeks’ news on the current impacts of climate change. If you haven’t subscribed yet, you can do so by clicking here.

Hot Topic: Down to the wire. COP28 drew to a close this week, culminating in a flurry of overtime, last-ditch efforts to agree on a path forward for tackling the climate crisis. While failing to agree to a “phase-out” of fossil fuels, countries did agree to “transition away” from fossil fuels, “phase-down” unabated coal power and phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies. More than 100 countries had lobbied hard for stronger language to phase out oil, gas and coal, but they faced powerful opposition from OPEC member countries, resulting in the weakened language.

While critics say the agreement doesn’t go far enough, contains many loopholes and can’t compel countries to take immediate action, many are hailing the agreement as a strong signal to policymakers and investors that the energy transition is inevitable—and a historic step in the right direction that could mark the “beginning of the end” of the fossil fuel era.

In other advances, more than 120 countries agreed to triple their use of renewable energy and double their rates of energy efficiency by 2030, as well as to sign a climate and health declaration that aims to “place health at the heart of climate action.” Other agreements included accelerating the deployment of low- and zero-emission technologies, committing to expand nuclear power, and slashing methane emissions.

Unfortunately, financing remains a major hurdle. Current pledges to the historic loss and damage fund total only $792M, less than 0.2% of the climate-fueled losses developing countries face each year. What’s more, those pledges are strictly voluntary, leaving those hardest hit by climate change without guarantees to support their adaptation or energy transitions. Harrowing stories this week out of Bududa, Uganda and El Bosque, Mexico show the ways the climate crisis is upending lives, destroying homes and wiping out entire communities in the countries least to blame for the climate crisis.

Human Health

During COP28’s first-ever Health Day, the UAE, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and several other philanthropies committed $777 million to combat neglected tropical diseases, which are rising and spreading due to rising temperatures. (Reuters, Nature)

More than 40 million global health professionals joined the World Health Organization’s call to action to prioritize health in climate negotiations during COP28, pressing for immediate action to phase out fossil fuels, fortify resilience, and protect the most vulnerable from the escalating health risks triggered by the climate crisis. (World Health Organization)

Planetary Health

The Global Tipping Points Report identified that five tipping point systems are on the verge of being irreversibly disrupted at current levels of warming: the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets, warm-water coral reefs, North Atlantic Subpolar Gyre circulation, and permafrost regions. (Bloomberg)

According to a report by the Global Carbon Project, carbon emissions have reached a record high after rising 1.1% since last year despite warnings that emissions must plummet to avoid the worst impacts of the climate crisis. (The Guardian)

2011-2020 was the hottest decade on record due to pollution in the atmosphere accelerating land and ocean temperatures, and 2023 has been confirmed as the hottest year on record following six temperature record-breaking months and two record-breaking seasons. (CNN, Reuters)


Indigenous leaders pressed for urgent action during COP28, demanding a moratorium on false solutions, urging drastic emissions cuts, and spotlighting the systemic failures, colonial policies and capitalist practices that threaten their rights and lands amidst escalating climate threats. (Inside Climate News)

In Uganda’s Mount Elgon region, the origin of some of the world’s finest Arabica beans for U.S. brands like Starbucks, devastating landslides fueled by erratic rainfall patterns have made the area too dangerous to inhabit, forcing the relocation of 100,000 people—currently the largest climate-driven relocation in sub-Saharan Africa. (The Wall Street Journal)

Once a thriving coastal community, El Bosque, Mexico, has been decimated by sea-level rise and fierce storms, displacing nearly all of the town’s 700 residents in just two years, with most still awaiting government aid in the face of catastrophe. (AP)

Politics & Economy

Nearly 200 nations signed a historic agreement at COP28 to transition away from fossil fuels but fell short of committing to phase them out in the face of opposition from a group of oil-producing nations led by Saudi Arabia. (Reuters)

The number of fossil fuel lobbyists at COP28 has nearly quintupled from just 503 at COP26 to 2,456 this year in Dubai—significantly outnumbering the combined 1,509 delegates from the 10 most climate-vulnerable nations. (TIME)

A new 18-state study from the Environmental Voter Project finds that voters aged 65+ are second only to voters aged 18-34 in viewing the changing climate as their highest political priority, raising the stakes for climate change-denying politicians as older Americans vote, volunteer and donate at the highest levels. (Inside Climate News)

A new CNN poll reveals almost 3 in 4 Americans—including half of Republicans—believe the federal government should work to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030, finding widespread support for one of President Biden’s major climate goals. (CNN)

Baku, the capital city of Azerbaijan, will host COP29, making it the third year in a row the conference is held in an autocratic, fossil-fuel-producing nation. (Bloomberg)


As the use of air conditioning rises to cope with extreme temperatures, 63 countries signed the Global Cooling Pledge to reduce emissions from cooling–including refrigeration for food and medicine and air conditioning–by 68% compared to 2022 by 2050. (The New York Times, Reuters)

Dubai set a target to cut carbon emissions in half by the end of the decade, making it the first city in the Middle East to align itself with the goals of the Paris Agreement to limit temperature increases to 1.5℃. (Bloomberg)

A group of California kids is suing the EPA, claiming it failed to safeguard them from climate change impacts, adding to a series of legal battles involving children fighting for their rights against climate-related threats. (NPR)

Pope Francis called upon global leaders to move toward greater energy efficiency, increase renewable energy, eliminate fossil fuels, and repay “the ecological debt” owed to developing nations for suffering from a climate crisis they did not cause. (NBC News)

Life as We Know It

A growing body of research shows that the most effective way to convince people to exhibit pro-climate behavior is by observing similar behaviors and comparing them with their own, finding that education and feedback were the least likely to persuade people to change their behavior. (The Washington Post)


Curious about what climate change looks like through the eyes of kids? Check out these photos captured by Columbian indigenous children. (Euronews)

May we be attentive to the cry of the Earth, may we hear the plea of the poor, may we be sensitive to the hopes of the young and the dreams of children! We have a grave responsibility to ensure that they not be denied their future.

– Pope Francis

The GMMB Climate, Health & Equity Brief would not be possible without the contributions of the larger GMMB team—Aaron Benavides, Stefana Hendronetto, Nikki Melamed, Sharde Olabanji and Marci Welford. Feedback on the Brief is welcome and encouraged and should be sent to