COP28 Ends With Ambitious Goals

COP28 4

The United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) closed on 13 December 2023 with an agreement that signals the “beginning of the end” of the fossil fuel era by laying the ground for a swift, just and equitable transition, underpinned by deep emissions cuts and scaled-up finance.

UN Climate Change News said:

In a demonstration of global solidarity, negotiators from nearly 200 Parties came together in Dubai with a decision on the world’s first ‘global stocktake’ to ratchet up climate action before the end of the decade – with the overarching aim to keep the global temperature limit of 1.5°C within reach.

“Whilst we did not turn the page on the fossil fuel era in Dubai, this outcome is the beginning of the end,” said UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Simon Stiell in his closing speech. “Now all governments and businesses need to turn these pledges into real-economy outcomes, without delay.”

The global stocktake is considered the central outcome of COP28 – as it contains every element that was under negotiation and can now be used by countries to develop stronger climate action plans due by 2025.

The stocktake recognizes the science that indicates global greenhouse gas emissions need to be cut 43% by 2030, compared to 2019 levels, to limit global warming to 1.5°C. But it notes Parties are off track when it comes to meeting their Paris Agreement goals.

The stocktake calls on Parties to take actions towards achieving, at a global scale, a tripling of renewable energy capacity and doubling energy efficiency improvements by 2030. The list also includes accelerating efforts towards the phase-down of unabated coal power, phasing out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, and other measures that drive the transition away from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly and equitable manner, with developed countries continuing to take the lead.

In the short-term, Parties are encouraged to come forward with ambitious, economy-wide emission reduction targets, covering all greenhouse gases, sectors and categories and aligned with the 1.5°C limit in their next round of climate action plans (known as nationally determined contributions) by 2025.

Helping Countries Strengthen Resilience To The Effects Of Climate Change

UN Climate Change News added:

The two-week-long conference got underway with the World Climate Action Summit, which brought together 154 Heads of States and Government. Parties reached a historic agreement on the operationalization of the loss and damage fund and funding arrangements – the first time a substantive decision was adopted on the first day of the conference. Commitments to the fund started coming in moments after the decision was gaveled, totaling more than USD 700 million to date.

There was more progress on the loss and damage agenda with an agreement also reached that the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction and the UN Office for Project Services will host the secretariat of the Santiago Network for Loss and Damage. This platform will catalyze technical assistance to developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change.

Parties agreed on targets for the Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA) and its framework, which identify where the world needs to get to in order to be resilient to the impacts of a changing climate and to assess countries’ efforts. The GGA framework reflects a global consensus on adaptation targets and the need for finance, technology and capacity-building support to achieve them.

Increasing Climate Finance

Climate finance took center stage at the conference, with Stiell repeatedly calling it the “great enabler of climate action.”

The Green Climate Fund (GCF) received a boost to its second replenishment with six countries pledging new funding at COP28 with total pledges now standing at a record USD 12.8 billion from 31 countries, with further contributions expected.

Eight donor governments announced new commitments to the Least Developed Countries Fund and Special Climate Change Fund totaling more than USD 174 million to date, while new pledges, totaling nearly USD 188 million so far, were made to the Adaptation Fund at COP28.

However as highlighted in the global stocktake, these financial pledges are far short of the trillions eventually needed to support developing countries with clean energy transitions, implementing their national climate plans and adaptation efforts.

In order to deliver such funding, the global stocktake underscores the importance of reforming the multilateral financial architecture, and accelerating the ongoing establishment of new and innovative sources of finance.

At COP28, discussions continued on setting a ‘new collective quantified goal on climate finance’ in 2024, taking into account the needs and priorities of developing countries. The new goal, which will start from a baseline of USD 100 billion per year, will be a building block for the design and subsequent implementation of national climate plans that need to be delivered by 2025.

Looking ahead to the transitions to decarbonized economies and societies that lie ahead, there was agreement that the mitigation work program, which was launched at COP27 last year, will continue until 2030, with at least two global dialogues held each year.

Event Participation And Inclusivity

World leaders at COP28 were joined by civil society, business, Indigenous Peoples, youth, philanthropy, and international organizations in a spirit of shared determinationto close the gaps to 2030. Some 85,000 participants attended COP28 to share ideas, solutions, and build partnerships and coalitions.

The decisions taken here today also reemphasize the critical importance of empowering all stakeholders to engage in climate action; in particular through the action plan on Action for Climate Empowerment and the Gender Action Plan.

Strengthening Collaboration Between Governments And Key Stakeholders

In parallel with the formal negotiations, the Global Climate Action space at COP28 provided a platform for governments, businesses and civil society to collaborate and showcase their real-world climate solutions.

The High-Level Champions, under the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action, launched their implementation roadmap of 2030 Climate Solutions. These are a set of solutions, with insights from a wide range of non-Party stakeholders on effective measures that need to be scaled up and replicated to halve global emissions, address adaptation gaps and increase resilience by 2030.

The conference also saw several announcements to boost the resilience of food and public health systems, and to reduce emissions related to agriculture and methane.

Looking Ahead

The negotiations on the ‘enhanced transparency framework’ at COP28 laid the ground for a new era of implementing the Paris Agreement. UN Climate Change is developing the transparency reporting and review tools for use by Parties, which were showcased and tested at COP28. The final versions of the reporting tools should be made available to Parties by June 2024.

COP28 also saw Parties agree to Azerbaijan as host of COP29 from 11-22 November 2024, and Brazil as COP30 host from 10-21 November 2025.

The next two years will be critical. At COP29, governments must establish a new climate finance goal, reflecting the scale and urgency of the climate challenge. And at COP30, they must come prepared with new nationally determined contributions that are economy-wide, cover all greenhouse gases and are fully aligned with the 1.5°C temperature limit.

“We must get on with the job of putting the Paris Agreement fully to work,” said Stiell. “In early 2025, countries must deliver new nationally determined contributions. Every single commitment – on finance, adaptation, and mitigation – must bring us in line with a 1.5-degree world.”

“My final message is to ordinary people everywhere raising their voices for change,” Stiell added. “Every one of you is making a real difference. In the crucial coming years your voices and determination will be more important than ever. I urge you never to relent. We are still in this race. We will be with you every single step of the way.”

“The world needed to find a new way. By following our North Star, we have found that path,” said COP28 President, Dr. Sultan Al Jaber during his closing speech. “We have worked very hard to secure a better future for our people and our planet. We should be proud of our historic achievement.”

What Was Agreed About Fossil Fuels?

A BBC report said:

For the first time, countries agreed on the need to “transition away from fossil fuels in energy systems”.

The text calls for this to be done “in a just, orderly and equitable manner”. This is seen as an important recognition that richer countries are expected to move away from coal, oil and gas more quickly.

However, the deal does not compel countries to take action, and no timescale is specified.

The COP28 deal was the first to note the need to move away from the fossil fuels that drive global warming

Many groups – including the U.S., UK, EU and some of the nations which are most vulnerable to climate change – had wanted a more ambitious commitment to “phase out” fossil fuels.

The agreement includes global targets to triple the capacity of renewable energy like wind and solar power, and to double the rate of energy efficiency improvements, both by 2030.

It also calls on countries to accelerate low- and zero-emission technologies like carbon capture and storage.

COP28 came at a crucial time for the key target to limit long-term global temperature rises to 1.5C.

This was agreed by nearly 200 countries at COP21, which was held in Paris in 2015.

The Paris commitment is crucial to avoid the most damaging impacts of climate change, according to the UN’s climate body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

However, before the final deal was agreed at COP28, there were warnings that the world is actually on track for around 2.7C of warming by 2100.

Recent progress had not been in line with what was required, the UN said, leaving a “rapidly narrowing” window for action to keep the 1.5C limit in reach.

Coal And Oil Executives

A media report said:

The participants in the COP 28 included around 2,400 people connected to the coal, oil and gas industries, which underlined concern about the influence of fossil fuel groups.

As COP28 got under way, it was announced that the “loss and damage” fund could start handing out money.

The fund was agreed at COP27. The idea is that richer countries – historically the main contributors to warming – pay poorer countries already facing the effects of climate change.

U.S. Reluctant

But the details had remained deeply contested, with wealthy countries like the US reluctant to accept liability for past emissions.

relatively small amount of money has been pledged so far, but getting the fund up and running is seen as a crucial step in building trust between richer and poorer countries.

Separately, in 2009, developed countries pledged to give $100bn a year to developing countries by 2020, to help them reduce emissions and prepare for climate change.

The target was missed in 2020, but is “likely” to have been met in 2022, according to preliminary data.

The COP28 agreement highlights “the growing gap” between the needs of developing countries and the money provided to cut emissions – but there is no requirement for developed countries to provide more support.

Critics of previous COPs, including campaigner Greta Thunberg, accuse the summits of “greenwashing” – that is, letting countries and businesses promote their climate credentials without actually making the changes needed.

But the summits do offer the potential for global agreements that go beyond national measures.

For example, the 1.5C warming limit, agreed at COP21, has driven “near-universal climate action”, according to the UN.

This has helped bring down the level of warming the world can expect – even though the world is still not acting at anywhere near the pace needed to achieve the Paris goals.

Ultimately, the success of COP28 will be determined by the changes the world puts into practice in the years ahead.

Outcome is the “beginning of the end”: UN Climate Change Executive Secretary at COP28 Closing

The following is a part of transcript of a speech delivered by UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Simon Stiell at the closing of COP28 in Dubai on 13 December 2023:

We needed this COP to send crystal clear signals on several fronts.

We needed a global green light signalling it is all systems go on renewables, climate justice, and resilience.

On this front, COP28 delivered some genuine strides forward.

Tripling renewables and doubling energy efficiency. A framework for the Global Goal on Adaptation. Operationalizing the loss and damage fund and making an initial down payment.

At every stage, climate action must stride forward side-by-side with human development, dignity and opportunity.

There will be reams of analysis of all the initiatives announced here in Dubai. They are a climate-action lifeline, not a finish line.

Now all governments and businesses need to turn these pledges into real-economy outcomes, without delay.

COP28 also needed to signal a hard stop to humanity’s core climate problem – fossil fuels and their planet-burning pollution.

Whilst we didn’t turn the page on the fossil fuel era in Dubai, this outcome is the beginning of the end.
These climate conferences are of course a consensus-based process, meaning all Parties must agree on every word, every comma, every full stop.

This is not easy. It’s not easy at all. Indeed, it underscores just how much these UN conferences have achieved in recent decades.

Without them we would be headed for close to 5 degrees of warming. An open-and-shut death sentence for our species.

We are currently headed for just under 3 degrees. It still equates to mass human suffering, which is why COP28 needed to move the needle further.

The global stocktake showed us clearly that progress is not fast enough, but undeniably it is gathering pace.

I firmly believe that this is because the political and economic logic is increasingly insurmountable:

Human lives in huge numbers are being lost in every country, while fossil fuels hit household budgets and national budgets alike.

Whilst there are vast benefits of bolder climate action.

More security, stability and protection for eight billion people.

More jobs, greater economic growth, less pollution and better health.

More empowerment of women as powerful agents of change.

More harnessing of nature and its best custodians.

Which brings me to what comes next. This is very clear.

We must get on with the job of putting the Paris Agreement to full work.

In early 2025, countries must deliver new Nationally Determined Contributions.

Every single commitment – on finance, adaptation, and mitigation – must bring us in line with a 1.5-degree world.

Countries must prepare and submit their first-ever biennial transparency reports by the end of next year.

At UN Climate Change, we will keep working to improve the process and help Parties go further, faster and fairer.

So allow me to also flag that UN Climate Change is now creaking under the weight of mandated processes and workstreams.

Through the first global stocktake, many Parties called for various works programs, bodies, processes and stakeholders to immediately step up their support, in response to the GST outcome, helping enable more ambition and implementation of NDCs.

Our budget is currently less than half funded, and so I ask you to address this, otherwise it will be impossible to fulfill Parties’ core requirements and expanded demands going forward.

My final message is to ordinary people everywhere raising their voices for change.

Every one of you is making a real difference. In the crucial coming years, your voices and determination will be more important than ever – so I urge you never to relent.

We are still in this race.

We will be with you every single step of the way.

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