COP 28 in Dubai: All united for global climate action

Written by Dr. Florence Akano

In a historic gathering of global leaders, policymakers, and stakeholders, the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference, known as COP 28, is set to take place in the vibrant city of Dubai, United Arab Emirates, from November 30th to December 12th, 2023. This crucial event will bring together key components, including the 28th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 28), the fifth meeting of the COP serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA 5), the 18th meeting of the COP serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 18), and the 59th meetings of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI 59) and the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA 59).

In a significant development, Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and UAE Special Envoy for Climate Change, has been appointed as the COP 28 President-Designate, as announced by the UNFCCC Secretariat in a letter dated January 13, 2023. His role will be instrumental in steering the discussions towards meaningful outcomes.

Vision and Objectives:

1. Paradigm Shifts:

COP 28, as outlined in a letter to parties in July 2023, will focus on four paradigm shifts:

a. Fast-tracking the Energy Transition and Emission Reductions by 2030: Efforts will be intensified to accelerate the global transition to sustainable energy sources, aiming to reduce emissions by the year 2030 significantly.

b. Transforming Climate Finance: A commitment to deliver on existing promises and establish a new framework for climate finance, ensuring the financial backing required for ambitious climate actions.

c. Placing Nature, People, Lives, and Livelihoods at the Core: Recognizing the interconnectedness of climate action with nature and human well-being, COP 28 aims to put these aspects at the heart of its deliberations.

d. Mobilizing for Inclusivity: COP 28 aspires to be the most inclusive conference yet, ensuring diverse voices and perspectives are heard and considered in the decision-making process.

2. Three-Fold Vision:

The Incoming Presidency envisions a three-fold approach to course correction:

a. Negotiated Outcome: Aiming for a comprehensive negotiated outcome that addresses the critical issues on the table, setting the stage for impactful global climate action.

b. Action Agenda: Incorporating an action agenda to drive tangible progress, emphasizing the need for immediate and effective implementation of climate measures.

c. Call to Action: Issuing a resounding call to action, urging all nations to collaborate and take decisive steps towards building a sustainable and resilient future.

Key Highlights:

1. Global Stocktake:

COP 28 marks the conclusion of the first Global Stocktake (GST) of the implementation of the Paris Agreement. This comprehensive assessment, occurring every five years, evaluates the collective progress towards climate goals. Preceding the GST, a mandated workshop in October will delve into the elements of the GST outcome.

2. Thematic Program:

Throughout the conference, the COP 28 Presidency will hold open consultations on thematic areas and sequencing, seeking inputs from a diverse range of stakeholders attending the conference. The thematic program is designed to foster inclusive discussions and collaboration.

3. Opening Ceremony:

Scheduled for Thursday, November 30, 2023, the Opening Ceremony promises to be a grand event, setting the tone for the conference. Detailed information will be provided in due course, creating anticipation for a momentous start to COP 28.

4. World Climate Action Summit:

Taking place on December 1st and 2nd, 2023, the World Climate Action Summit will bring world leaders together to present their progress and ambitions across all pillars of the Paris Agreement. This summit aims to provide momentum and guidance for the remainder of COP 28.

Executive Secretary’s Message

In a recent message, UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Simon Stiell emphasized the need for substantial action at COP 28. Over 160 world leaders are expected to attend, with Stiell urging that the conference must not be a mere photo-op but a platform for delivering real, impactful change. The message is clear – leaders must leave Dubai with a deal that makes a genuine difference.

Yearbook of Global Climate Action:

Released at COP 28, the Yearbook of Global Climate Action reveals that while businesses, investors, cities, states, and regions are increasingly taking climate action, the pace and scale remain insufficient to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

COP28 President’s Call to Action

In his opening speech, Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, the COP 28 President, emphasized unity, action, and multilateralism. Addressing the gathered ministers and country delegates, Dr. Sultan highlighted the urgent need for more significant efforts to keep the goal of limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius within reach. He called upon the world to seize the opportunity presented by COP 28 and translate discussions into concrete actions.

COP28 Attendees

More than 140 heads of state, senior government leaders, and approximately 70,000 participants are expected to attend COP28. Notable figures include Britain’s King Charles III, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, First Minister of Scotland Humza Yousaf, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. While US President Joe Biden is not expected to attend, the country will be represented by top officials such as Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry.

Controversies and Concerns

1. Choice of President:

The article highlights concerns about the choice of COP28 president, Sultan al-Jaber, CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. Criticisms arise due to his leadership role in one of the world’s largest oil-producing companies, questioning the alignment of his interests with the summit’s climate goals.

2. Involvement of the Fossil Fuel Industry:

Environmentalists and analysts express reservations about the UNFCCC involving the fossil fuel industry in discussions, citing a lack of progress towards the 1.5-degree Celsius goal.

3. Civil Society Demands:

In September, over 200 civil society organizations, including Amnesty International, presented demands to the UAE government. These include labor reforms, abandoning plans to increase oil and gas production, and refraining from surveilling COP28 attendees.

As the largest pre-COP gathering ever, COP 28 holds the potential to be a turning point in the global fight against climate change. The world is watching as leaders converge in Dubai to forge a path toward a sustainable and resilient future. The time for action is now, and COP 28 is the stage where commitments must translate into transformative change.

Written by Florence Akano

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Dr. Florence Akano

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