Climate summit opens with world watching for signs of progress
Photo by COP28 / Mahmoud Khaled
World leaders, business luminaries and civil society members are descending on Dubai today for the opening of the United Nations’ annual climate change conference (COP28). The nearly two-week-long summit will look to address some of the most-pressing issues related to what experts say is a rapidly accelerating climate crisis.
A key moment at COP28 will be the conclusion of the first Global Stocktake, a process that will see the world gauge what progress has been made towards meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement – and where countries are falling short.
COP28 comes after a year of devastating extreme weather events, brought on by climate change. This year is on track to be the warmest ever, while wildfires, floods and heatwaves hammered countries from the United States to China.
In the lead up to COP28, UNEP released two major reports that charted the depth of the climate crisis. The Emissions Gap Report found that current climate-related pledges have the world on track to warm 2.5°C to 2.9°C by century’s end, well above the goals of the Paris Agreement. Meanwhile, the Adaptation Gap Report revealed countries are not spending nearly enough money on bracing themselves for storms, droughts and other fallout from climate change.
“COP28 needs to see commitments from countries to reduce emissions and accelerate their transition to a low-carbon, climate-resilient future,” says Niklas Hagelberg, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Senior Programme Coordinator, Climate Change. “We know from UNEP’s Adaptation Gap Report and Emissions Gap Report that we are off track when it comes to adapting to the effects of the climate crisis and reducing emissions,” he adds.
Against this backdrop there is subdued hope that delegates will make progress on the most-pressing issues linked to the climate crisis.
Delegates will discuss an ambitious package of measures that would speed a just transition to renewable energy. Observers are hopeful that will include commitments to phase out fossil fuels, cease construction of new coal-fired plants and triple renewable energy capacity – while doubling energy efficiency – by 2030.
Other issues that will take centre stage at COP28 include climate change adaptation. Countries pledged to double adaptation finance from 2019 to 2025 at COP26 in Glasgow and it is hoped that progress can be made on that front. It is also hoped that countries will adopt the Global Goal for Adaptation, which would raise funding for countries and communities struggling with climate change.
In Dubai, talks will also centre on a so-called loss and damage fund, established last year, which would channel financing to vulnerable countries. It would help those nations deal with the irreversible consequences of climate change, such as desertification or rising seas.
“Climate finance is key to ensuring that the world’s most vulnerable communities can protect themselves from the increasing effects of the climate crisis,” Hagelberg says.
COP28 will see the launch of the Buildings Breakthrough, which aims to speed the global transition towards climate-resilient and near-zero- emission buildings. That is considered a vital aim as the buildings and construction sector is responsible for 37 per cent of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions.
During the next two weeks it is hoped governments and the oil and gas sector will step up with ambitious actions to rein in methane, a short-lived but potent greenhouse gas responsible for about one-third of global warming. More than 150 countries have already signed the Global Methane Pledge, which aims to reduce emissions by 30 per cent by 2030. That is considered a key step in the effort to keep warming below 1.5°C, a core target of the Paris Agreement.
Another UNEP-led initiative set to be launched at COP28 is the Clobal Cooling Pledge. It aims to spur countries to improve energy efficiency and increase access to sustainable cooling through a range of collective targets.
UNEP will have a large presence at COP28. Its pavilion will be hosting a number of events on everything from the use of artificial intelligence to inspire climate action to accelerating energy efficiency in developing countries.
The organization will also launch a number of reports during COP28 including:
These reports are designed to raise awareness of some of the most pressing climate change-related issues and provide policymakers with a scientific foundation to drive change.
The first Conference of the Parties (COP1) was held in Berlin in 1995 and since then it has been held every year, except 2020, due to COVID-19. Organized by UN Climate Change, along with a host country, the conference aims to review progress towards limiting the effects of climate change, often refining targets, or agreeing on binding treaties. At COP21 in Paris in 2015, countries committed to reducing emissions and to pursuing efforts to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C, and to keep it "well below" 2°C above pre-industrial times.
You can follow live COP28 updates on UNEP’s climate action feed.
The 28th session of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) will be held from 30 November to 12 December, 2023 in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates. It aims to drive action on climate change, reducing emissions and halting global warming. This year, COP28 will discuss the results from the first-ever Global Stocktake, assessing progress toward achieving the ambition of the Paris Agreement to limit global temperature rise to below 1.5°C.
30 NOV 2023 STORY CLIMATE ACTION
Source: UN Environment Programme (UNEP)
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