Just a few months to COP28 (starting November 30th 2023) and I have been looking at what to expect or hope for from that conference.
John Kerry the US climate envoy said recently that we need to separate the climate crisis from politics. That is not proving easy in the UK nor in the US. However, the issues at stake are more than national or domestic petty concerns but need to address the urgency of the impact of climate change and nature depletion. This summer has once again witnessed wildfires in Hawaii and in Canada that are devastating communities and natural habitat – further weakening the ecosystems of their neighbourhoods.
COP28 should see the Global Stocktake (the scientific assessment) of emissions following the national pledges made in the Paris Agreement in 2015. Nations will need to assess where they are and redouble efforts to reduce emissions and build resilient and secure energy systems without fossil fuels. The President-designate of COP28, Dr Sultan Al Jaber, is calling on nations to triple the production of renewable energy and to double hydrogen production by 2030. Dr Al Jaber is founding his programme on 4 pillars - being fast-tracking the transition to a low-carbon world; fixing climate finance; focusing on people, lives and livelihoods; and full inclusivity. The four Fs. These are excellent aims but need to be seem pragmatically and practically. The UN Climate Chief Simon Stiell states that there also needs to be a clear route to phase out/stop fossil fuel subsidies if progress is to be made. This is somewhat dissonant to a COP28 hosted by the UAE but they are a key party to any decisions.
COP27 set in motion the creation of the loss and damage fund to provide financial assistance to poorer nations as they deal with the negative consequences that arise from the unavoidable risks of climate change - for example: rising sea levels, extreme heat, wildfires, crop failures etc. The funding will help vulnerable nations to rebuild the necessary physical and social infrastructure. A Transition Committee has been meeting during this year to establish what this means and outlining a roadmap. They have called for evidence from States as to what impact climate has had and how funding would help. For example, the impact on the Sami people of Finland and surrounding countries where the region is warming three times faster than the global average; the impact on the border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo where the river divides the nations and the course is changing opening up potential armed conflict. And in Fiji where major community relocations have had to be implemented as sea level rise in the South West Pacific is 2 – 3 times the global average. More case studies here https://unfccc.int/process-and-meetings/bodies/constituted-bodies/transitional-committee/case-studies
Private finance has an important role. Indeed, the UK’s own green strategy relies heavily on this collaboration between Government and the private sector to drive the changes and create the growth in our economy that will follow. The City of London are promoters of the work that businesses and organisations such at the Green Finance Institute are undertaking.
Obvious other areas that will be discussed at COP28 include the vexed question of the Voluntary Carbon Market and how robust it can be considered and whether it can assist the vulnerable nations. Nature and biodiversity have two days on the agenda with the Just Transition having one day. These are such important areas in themselves and I am reminded of the view that resolving climate change is critical to achieving all of the aims in the Sustainable Development Goals. The fact is that there is still all to play for at COP28.