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What is COP28 and Why is It Important?

From talks to action: COP28 aims to set a new course in the climate crisis battle.
28/11/23
TL;DR Embed
TL;DR: COP28 in Dubai is a pivotal conference for global climate action, focusing on assessing progress towards the Paris Agreement goals and addressing critical issues like fossil fuel phase-out, clean energy expansion, and climate finance. Amidst the urgency of climate change, this year's conference aims to align global efforts more effectively, tackle financial challenges, and set a sustainable path forward.

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.

Key Issues at COP28

Global Stocktake (GST)

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.

Fossil Fuels

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 to Tackle Emissions

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.

Clean Energy Capacity

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.

Financing for Climate Change Costs

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.

Importance of COP28

COP28 is significant for several reasons:

  • It marks the conclusion of the first GST under the Paris Agreement, assessing global progress and identifying ways to enhance climate action.
  • The conference aims to address critical issues such as the operationalisation of the loss and damage fund, defining the global goal on adaptation, and setting new targets for renewable energy and energy efficiency.
  • The outcomes of COP28 will influence the trajectory of future global climate policies and actions. It's a chance to recalibrate efforts towards more effective climate policies and a sustainable path for the planet.

Context and Past COPs

Previous COPs, particularly since COP21 in 2015, have focused on implementing the Paris Agreement. However, the COP process has been marked by challenges:

  • Consensus-Based Decision Making: The need for consensus among diverse parties with different interests makes reaching agreements a complex and charged process.
  • Unmet Financial Commitments: A longstanding issue has been the failure of developed countries to meet their climate finance pledges, contributing to mistrust and frustration among developing countries. In 2009, developed countries pledged to mobilise $100 billion annually from 2020 onwards, a target not yet achieved.
  • Controversies: The involvement of figures from the fossil fuel industry, such as the UAE's Dr. Sultan al-Jaber as the COP28 president, has raised concerns about impartiality in climate talks.

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.

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