COP 28: A Simple Guide to What’s Going On

COP 28 is the United Nations Climate Change Conference happening in Dubai. It’s a crucial event where representatives from different countries come together to discuss and negotiate actions to combat climate change. 


The annual COPs (Conference of Parties) serve as a platform for 190 nations to discuss and “agree” on climate change actions. These meetings involve challenging negotiations and discussions with strategic additions and even phrase changes, which can make all the difference.


Despite the objective of the COPs to gain agreement on actions needed to prevent climate change increasing above 1.5, no previous COPS have made the link explicit between climate and fossil fuels in any of the legally binding treaties.


However, in COP26, the UK managed to include coal in the final commitment, although it was watered down from a ‘phase-out’ to a ‘phase-down’ (see what we mean by the significance of last-minute word changes?). Despite its shortcomings, it is great that all 190 nations have finally agreed that transitioning away from fossil fuels is a global priority.


While some argue that the agreement has loopholes and falls short, it undeniably represents a significant step in the right direction. It is also worth noting that the process of signing up to agreements has become speedier, with reports suggesting that apparently it was all done by replying to a text!


Here’s a breakdown of what else has been in discussions so far:


1. Climate Finance

– The UAE President announced a $30 billion fund for global climate solutions, aiming to attract $250 billion in investment by the end of the decade.

– COP commitments included $700 million in funding to assist lower-income countries affected by climate change.

– 10 principles were introduced to make finance more accessible and affordable.


What should happen next? 

– Governments need to prioritise long-term benefits over short-term costs and set specific targets each year to meet their commitments.

– The private sector should engage with regulators and governments to unlock investments and develop innovative financial instruments that direct capital to areas needing it the most.

– International financial institutions can enhance efforts to improve finance access and mitigate risks.


2. Climate Change and Sustainability

– Over 130 countries agreed to include emissions from agriculture and farming in their national plans to combat climate change.

– A coalition of food and agriculture organisations is working to promote regenerative agriculture, protecting soil and reducing carbon emissions.


What should happen next? 

– Public climate finance should be rebalanced towards food systems, and companies should engage with both the Global North and Global South.

– Social equity should be prioritised, considering the vulnerability of farmers and workers in adaptation efforts.

– Food companies can invest in climate-smart production, like adopting resilient seeds and reducing food waste.


3. Renewable Energy

– 118 countries committed to tripling renewable power generation capacity and doubling energy efficiency by the end of the decade.


What should happen next? 

– Governments should provide strong support and financing, ensuring supportive policies and regulations are in place.

– Organisations can streamline processes to accelerate renewable energy projects.

– Power companies should respond to government signals for grid investments and capacity enhancements.

– Scaling supply chains and providing training are key to reducing costs and driving the renewable energy sector.


4. Methane Reduction

– 50 oil and gas companies pledged to achieve near zero-methane emissions by 2030.

– Plans to meet these targets by 2025 were submitted, and a fund for methane abatement projects was announced.

– The companies also committed to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.


What should happen next?

– Reducing methane emissions is crucial, and technologies and practices can address 70% of energy-related emissions.

– The methane fund should be used to accelerate the implementation of abatement projects.

– Collaboration between the private sector, governments, and development banks is essential to incentivise emerging markets.


By following these actions, we can make significant progress in addressing climate change and building a sustainable future.


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