Today’s blog post will be about a slightly different topic than usual but equally important, if not even more important. It talks about COP28, the 28th annual United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference, which took place in Dubai. COP28 is therefore very important as governments come together to measure progress and negotiate the best ways to tackle climate change, taking into account the realities of other countries. We will dive into a short summary of the outcomes of this important conference so that you’re up to date in the next discussion with your friends or family.
Diving into the topic
To begin with, COP stands for Conference of the Parties, and the summit was attended by the countries that signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – a treaty that came into force in 1994.
This year, the 28th version of COP took place from November 30 to December 12, 2023 at Expo City Dubai to unite governments from around the world towards agreement on bold, practical and ambitious solutions to the most pressing global challenge of our time – the climate change. With a reported number of 84,000 attendees it broke the record with more than double the 38,457 attendees at COP26 in Glasgow.
Unexpected dramas right at the beginning
To get into the subject and to give a short overview of the first drama of the COP, you have to know that Dr Sultan Al Jaber was appointed COP28 president-designate in January of this year. The problem with this decision is that he is the head of the UAE’s state-owned oil company, the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC). So evidently appointing him to the role of arbiter of climate talks immediately sparked outcry. Environmental activist Greta Thunberg called Al Jaber’s appointment “completely ridiculous”, while former US vice president Al Gore said fossil-fuel interests had taken over COP.
Overall, I think oil lobbyists in general should be banned from participating in the COP of the future. I feel, that there will always be too much profit-oriented influence with them included. Furthermore, more young people should be included to have a saying. There are so called LCOYs (Local Conference of Youth) which represent a national version of the international Conference of Youth (COY), which takes place immediately before the big COP. Here, young people come together to shape the future and develop ideas for a sustainable, greener world. The results of these conferences should be considered in the great COP, in my opinion, to include not only the point of views of the presumably in average 50-year-old partakers, but also the younger generations, which represent our future.
Historic agreements were made
Coming back to summing up the results of the UN climate change discussions, it can be said that there was a historic agreement on transitioning away from fossil fuels, tripling renewable energy and increasing climate finance for the most vulnerable. The aim is to maintain the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global average near-surface temperatures to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.
The deal made at the COP28 summit in Dubai is significant because it acknowledges the necessity of moving away from fossil fuels for the first time. While this is a significant first step in the right direction, it is not the ultimate objective. We must quickly speed the switch to renewable energy sources while drastically reducing the production and consumption of fossil fuels. as there is not much time left.
Criticsm coming up
Actually, since the Paris Agreement, this is the most important collection of decisions. Nations came to the consensus that fossil fuels were the cause of the issue. However, there is also a lot of criticism because the following stages may produce a better result. It establishes only general, broad objectives. Meanwhile, the most vulnerable parties were obviously distressed at the conclusion, shedding tears even. Some said that when the gavel dropped, they were outside the chamber. Although they did not obstruct the agreement, the opinions of tiny islands differ greatly from those of others who voiced optimism.
It is discouraging that the official COP 28 decision does not explicitly demand a complete phase-out of fossil fuels, as research clearly shows this is necessary to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement. While many people are happy that the fossil fuel age is coming to an end, there are issues with the wording since it contains loopholes that nations might exploit to avoid or postpone taking steps to phase out fossil fuel subsidies. Two examples of these loopholes are the qualifier “inefficient” and the ambiguous “as soon as possible” deadline.
However, the phase-out of fossil fuels is currently gaining inescapable speed. In order to acknowledge equality, developed countries must cut output and consumption as quickly as possible and provide developing nations significant assistance so that they can implement differentiable fair transitions.
Developing nations truly required a strong global goal to support their adaptation to the effects of climate change, but as of right now, no commitment has been made to help them improve their capacity for adaptation, and more crucially, there is no accountability for monitoring and evaluating the assistance received. Rather, and this is very unfortunate in my opinion, COP 28 has failed miserably at adaptability
Best practice associations & COP gone into overtime
Speaking about another discussed topic, France launched the Coal Transition Accelerator with other nations and organizations with the goal of exchanging knowledge, creating new policies based on lessons learned and best practices, and opening up new sources of funding from the public and private sectors to support fair transitions from coal to clean energy.
In the very end, the COP28 climate talks have gone into overtime as countries grapple over the wording of a potential agreement on the issue of fossil fuels. Several nations, criticized the proposed wording for being too weak. Over 100 countries support a total phase-out of the usage of natural gas, coal, and oil. The COP was supposed to finish on December 12th, but due to continuous debates over the wording, it ended on December 13th in the evening when President Sultan Al-Jaber brought down the gavel on the conference.
Now was the COP28 a success or not?
In reality, it should be viewed as a victory since this is the first time in COP history that the wording on the shift away from fossil fuels has been agreed upon. By the end of this decade, countries also promised to double the rate of efficiency gains and triple the deployment of renewable energy. Nevertheless, the agreement lacks any binding force, and the language exposes us to incorrect answers. The commitment to phase out fossil fuels, which is essential to keeping the rise in mean global temperature to 1.5 °C over pre-industrial levels, is also missing.
The COP28 agreement does not ensure that any of the 1.5°C or even 2°C targets can be met. However, there has been an evident increase in the probability of achieving the goal when comparing the pre-conference and post-conference situations.