Much hinges on the COP28 climate summit. Here’s a quick rundown of this crucial event being held in Dubai from 30 November to 12 December 2023.

What is Cop28?

It’s the 28th annual UN climate conference – or Conference of the Parties (COP). This is where UN member states assess progress and commit to climate action. First held in Berlin in 1995, this year it’s Dubai’s turn. The event started on 30 November and will run until 12 December.

Who is attending?

No fewer than 70,000 people are expected to descend on Dubai for Cop28. That includes world leaders, scientists, journalists, business executives, NGOs and activists such as Vanessa Nakate, indigenous youth activist Txai Surui and even the Pope.

More controversial guests are fossil fuel lobbyists who are putting pressure on negotiators to apply the brakes to climate action. Research published this week by a group of green groups reveals that a record number of fossil fuel delegates (2,400) will attend Cop28. Critics, among them climate activist Greta Thunberg, say this makes a mockery of the summit.

Why is Cop28 so important?

The world is facing a “hellish” 3C of global heating, the UN has warned. If we don’t do something, we’re on track to make swathes of the Earth uninhabitable. The average global temperature briefly crossed the 2C danger threshold for the first time in 2023, a year set to be the hottest on record, as heatwaves, floods and droughts take hold, affecting millions across the globe.

To avoid such warming, we need to reduce emissions by 43% by 2030, so this year’s COP is pivotal. After 28 years of foot-dragging by decision-makers, activists are calling for fast-track action and firm outcomes on everything from energy transition (renewable energy needs to be tripled), to climate finance and equity.

Why hold such an important climate event in Dubai?

As one of the world’s top oil-producing nations, hosting Cop28 in the UAE has sparked widespread criticism from environmental groups. Appointing Sultan Al Jaber as president of the talks is also highly controversial considering he is also CEO of the state-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc).

The decision to appoint him backfired at the weekend after he was reported telling attendees of an event that there was “no science” to suggest phasing out fossil fuels will help limit global warming to 1.5C. He also claimed that doing so would take the world “back into caves”. Al Jaber since claimed his comments were misrepresented and that he believes in the science.

Meanwhile, new data from the Global Oil and Gas Exist List has shown that Adnoc has the largest expansion plans of any oil company in the world. Despite this, some – such as US climate envoy John Kerry – claim Al Jaber’s position makes him well-placed to drive the change required. That remains to be seen.

The biggest topics?

1. Global stocktake

Cop28 will take stock of progress, or lack of it, for the first time since the landmark 2015 Paris agreement at COP21, where the world agreed to limit global warming to 1.5C by 2050, (compared to pre-industrial levels), to avoid the most damaging impacts of climate change. The Global Stocktake Synthesis Report published in September, outlines the rapid changes required and will form the focus of talks at Cop28.

“Success at Cop28 hinges on whether governments respond to the Global Stocktake report not with words but through bold new commitments that steer humanity from our current destructive path,” said Ani Dasgupta, president and CEO of the World Resources Institute.

2. Phasing out v phasing down fossil fuels

Climate action can’t wait, so when countries draft international agreements at COP, wording is everything, especially in terms of a “phase-out” versus a “phase-down” of fossil fuels. The first indicates that fossil fuels will soon be history, the second just says we need to use less of them. Last year 80 countries supported the phase-out, but this was blocked by Saudi Arabia and other oil and gas-rich nations. This year the EU is leading a renewed push for the phase-out. Whether this will be successful at Cop28 remains to be seen. China is already resisting.

“If we do not [phase out fossil fuels], it will be a death sentence for countless people,” Greta Thunberg said, at UN talks in Bonn this summer.

3. Climate finance (where’s the money?)

At last year’s Cop, a breakthrough agreement was made to establish a global loss and damages fund to compensate countries worst-hit by climate change, officially acknowledging the inequities of the climate crisis.

Cop28 has built on that success with Sultan Al Jaber “operationalising” the fund, meaning developing nations worst hit by climate change will now be able to access it. The UAE used the opening day of Cop28 to pledge $100m (£79m) for the fund. Other countries making notable commitments included Germany, which also committed $100m, the UK, which committed £40m for the fund and £20m for other arrangements, Japan, which contributed $10m (£7.9m) and the US, which committed $17.5m (£13.4m).

Nevertheless, big questions remain, such as the continued financing of the fund. In 2009, rich nations promised to provide $100bn (£790m) a year from 2020 to help developing countries cut their emissions and combat climate impacts. That never happened. Addressing this ongoing shortfall will be a crucial discussion point at Cop28.

4. Food systems

Food systems contribute to one-third of all human-generated greenhouse gas emissions, and this year’s negotiations will focus on agricultural transformation.

In a sign of progress, 134 world leaders signed a declaration agreeing to integrate food systems into climate action. Notably, India was not a signatory.

Also announced at Cop28 was the mobilisation of more than $2.5bn (£2bn) in funding to support food security while combatting climate change.

“Today’s commitment from countries around the world will help to build a global food system fit for the future,” said H.E. Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, UAE minister of climate change and environment.

It’s welcome rhetoric, but as ever it will need to be backed by action. And fast. The clock is ticking.

Original source: https://www.positive.news

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