The 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28), convening in Dubai, is a pivotal moment in international efforts to address climate change. The conference is set against a backdrop of record-breaking temperatures and extreme weather events, underscoring the urgent need for effective action.
A primary focus of COP28 is an assessment of countries' progress toward the Paris Agreement's goals, aiming to limit global warming to well below 2°C, preferably to 1.5°C. This "global stocktake" involves evaluating and planning necessary actions to meet these targets, with emphasis on cutting CO2 emissions and boosting green technology investments.
One of the most contentious topics is the future of fossil fuels. Discussions will centre around whether countries should commit to phasing out the use of CO2-emitting coal, oil, and gas. The phase-down of fossil fuels is seen as inevitable, but there is disagreement among countries on this point.
Technologies for capturing and storing CO2 emissions will also be a focus, particularly promoted by countries with economies dependent on fossil fuels. However, there are concerns that these technologies might be used to justify continued fossil fuel use.
Countries are considering goals to triple renewable energy capacity and double energy savings by 2030. While there is broad support for this, it is closely tied to the contentious issue of phasing out fossil fuels.
Developing countries need significant financial assistance to adapt to climate impacts and transition to clean energy. The operationalisation of a "loss and damage" fund will be a critical area of negotiation, with developing countries advocating for substantial financial support from wealthier nations.
COP28 is significant for several reasons:
Previous COPs, particularly since COP21 in 2015, have focused on implementing the Paris Agreement. However, the COP process has been marked by challenges:
COP28 represents a critical opportunity for world leaders to recalibrate and align their efforts towards more effective climate policies. The decisions and commitments made in Dubai will be instrumental in shaping the global response to climate change in the coming years. The need for collective action is more urgent than ever, and we must cross our fingers and hope that this year, COP will lead to the decisive action needed to safeguard our planet for future generations.