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High hopes with a strong start – COP28 daily

In the hottest year ever in humanity, when many terrifying records were broken, when the ongoing El Niño event is expected to last at least until April 2024, influencing weather patterns and contributing to a further spike in temperatures both on land and in the ocean, the United Nations Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC), COP28 opened with the resounding call of UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Simon Stiell to accelerate collective climate action: “We are taking baby steps. Stepping far too slowly from an unstable world that lacks resilience to working out the best responses to the complex impacts we are facing. We must teach climate action to run. As Yoda would say Do or do not. There is no try”. “We don’t have any time to waste. At COP28, every country and every company will be held to account, guided by the North Star of keeping 1.5°C within reach,” said COP28 President Dr Sultan Al Jaber.

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There are high hopes for COP28 as we are entering the conclusion of the political phase of the Global Stocktake (GST), the first assessment of global progress in implementing the 2015 Paris Agreement. GST allows us to make everyone on the planet safe and resilient by aiming at the transition to a new energy system and by properly financing it including through the response to loss and damage. The impacts of the climate crisis wreak unprecedented havoc on human life and livelihoods around the world. The high hopes were immediately met on the first day by accepting the recommendations of the Fifth meeting of the Transitional Committee on the operationalisation of the new funding arrangements for responding to loss and damage and the Fund established in 2022 at COP27 for assisting developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change in responding to loss and damage. The approval of the governing instrument for the Fund is considered to be a huge milestone in the upcoming negotiations. The most vulnerable countries are extremely satisfied. The first financial pledges were also announced today summing up to 350 million US dollars, which exceeds all earlier expectations, as 100-200 million US dollars would have been more than enough for the World Bank to kick off the Fund.

Fortunately, we also have some additional strong backwind. In 2009, developed countries (DC) pledged to deliver 100 billion US dollars a year by 2020 to help poorer countries reduce emissions and prepare for the consequences of global warming. That promise was broken, undermining trust at global climate talks. In 2021, DC collectively mobilised 89.6 billion US dollars in climate finance, up from 83.3 billion US dollars in 2020.

Based on preliminary evidence, the OECD anticipates that the goal was likely met in 2022, which puts DC ahead of the trajectory outlined in the Climate Finance Deliver Plan of last year, which projected that the goal would be met in 2023. Meeting the goal is an important milestone, but continuing to scale up climate finance from all sources and improving its effectiveness is required to meet growing needs. Unfortunately, recent numbers on adaptation finance are lower than we would have hoped, but the OECD data for 2021 does not yet reflect additional pledges and ambition on adaptation finance following the Glasgow Climate Pact and its call to double adaptation finance by 2025. As contributors work to implement post-Glasgow commitments, we can be confident that DC remain on track to collectively double their adaptation finance by 2025.

On the other hand, mobilising private finance at the scale required to meet needs is challenging. Concerted efforts from all actors are required for progress – as contributors, will work to better tailor public finance to more effectively leverage private resources.

To generate progress beyond the 100 billion US dollars goal agreed in 2009, we must now shift our focus towards the post-2025 goal – this new goal presents an opportunity to apply lessons learnt and ensure our climate finance is as impactful as possible.

Nevertheless, one question remains. After such a good start, will we be able to achieve a balanced package in the end? Will mitigation efforts also occupy a worthy position in the final package of decisions? Will nations commit to a just and fair transition to a new energy system by accepting the proposed global targets on renewable energy and energy efficiency as a major COP deliverable? Let us keep our hopes high so that we would not need to pay with people’s lives and livelihoods for the opportunities missed.

*With 198 Parties, the UNFCCC has near universal membership and is the parent treaty of the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement. The UNFCCC is the custodian of the climate negotiation process as an impartial facilitator. The ultimate objective of all agreements under the UNFCCC is to stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system, in a time frame which allows ecosystems to adapt naturally and enables sustainable development. COP28 stands for the 28th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UNFCCC. COPs take place every year. COP28, taking place in the United Arab Emirates from 30 November to 12 December 2023. UAE has the presidency for COP28, with Dr Sultan Al Jaber as this year’s president. COP28 aims to address the climate crisis by agreeing on ways to limit temperature rise to 1.5°C and achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. Over 70,000 delegates, including member states, business leaders, young people, climate scientists, Indigenous Peoples, journalists and various other experts and stakeholders are expected to attend because only cooperation between all nations and actors can get humanity back in this race.

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