COP28 - Conference of Parties of United Nations Climate Change Convention: Accountability and Action

Representatives from nearly two hundred nations are meeting in the United Arab Emirates at the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties to find out if humanity is capable of concerted action to mitigate and adapt to the climate crisis.

This year’s conference is being hailed by some as the most important in 8 years: it is in Dubai that the Global Stocktaking (GST) planned in the Paris Agreement is due to take place. This event is aimed at identifying how each party is holding up its ‘end of the bargain’ and knowing where and how fast to move to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement. Representatives of vulnerable countries and non-governmental organizations hope that delegations from industrialized countries will sit at the negotiating table with more ambitious climate strategies than before.

The second key theme of the climate talks will be the so-called “accelerating systems transformation” - the energy transition. Ideally, at COP-28, governments should guarantee a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions commensurate with global climate goals, a threefold increase in renewable energy and a twofold increase in energy efficiency.

At the same time, it is important that countries agree on ways to ensure that the transition to a low-carbon economy leaves no one behind, taking into account the interests of the most vulnerable, as well as workers and communities dependent on the fossil fuel industry.

Official delegations in Dubai are expected to “formalize” their tentative agreement on adaptation policy goals. COP-28 may adopt a Global Goal for Adaptation (GGA), a mechanism to measure progress in adaptation actions. It should aim to give local communities greater decision-making power so that adaptation plans and policies can be implemented more quickly, widely and equitably.

The main long-term objective of the international climate negotiations is to transform and strengthen financial flows for low-carbon development and adaptation. Experts and civil society representatives believe that all statements should be backed by commitments and mechanisms to align financing to support developing countries' transition to cleaner energy sources.

More than 10 years ago, developed countries agreed to collectively mobilize $100 billion each year by 2020 to help developing countries mitigate and adapt to climate change. The pledges have not been honored, but with COP-28 came hopes that industrialized countries would be ready at the climate summit to address the funding gap and provide vulnerable countries with faster access and better financing.

One important theme of the negotiations will be “loss and damage.” At the end of long and arduous negotiations last year, delegates managed to agree on a fund to help climate-vulnerable countries cope with the impacts of climate change that are so severe that they cannot be adapted to.  

Last year, discussions on phasing out fossil fuels and expanding the use of renewable energy gained momentum but were adopted with very cautious language.

The Dubai conference is a chance to reinforce this line of climate action. It is clearer than ever that the world needs to divest from fossil fuels, and fast. The International Energy Agency (IEA) has confirmed, that a 1.5°C scenario is only possible if new oil and gas development is abandoned.

Representatives of public environmental organizations are calling on national governments to be more ambitious at COP-28. “The international mechanism for systematically tracking global progress toward the Paris Agreement goals should not be interrupted at COP-28.” Russian NGOs write in a Statement, adopted on the eve of the conference in Dubai.

They call on the countries participating in the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC to take immediate action: to significantly strengthen greenhouse gas emission reduction targets for 2030-35, to ensure the phase-out of coal by 2030. By the same time, they believe it is necessary to take all necessary measures to reduce oil and natural gas production and abandon any new fossil fuel extraction and exploration projects.

At the same time, they urge not to substitute direct measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with carbon capture and storage (CCS, CCUS) and transition to “intermediate” fossil fuels, as this is ineffective in achieving climate goals and diverts attention and resources away from a just energy transformation. According to environmental activists, the best option is to emphasize benefit-based approaches that ensure both adaptation and greenhouse gas emission reductions.

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