All systems set for Cop28

28 November 2023
The final negotiations will occur on the last two days of the summit

Commentary
Jennifer Aguinaldo
Energy & technology editor

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It's all systems go with little more than a day before the UAE rolls out the red carpet for close to 140 heads of state at the opening ceremony of the 28th Conference of the Parties (Cop28) of the UN Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The Cop28 opening day on 30 November will be followed by the two-day World Climate Action Summit, which will convene heads of state and government, civil society, business leaders, youth, indigenous peoples organisations, frontline communities, science and other sectors.

The initial two days will involve the first global stocktake of the progress countries have made towards their emissions reduction commitments, or nationally determined contributions (NDCs).

It is expected that many countries will report underachieving their goals, but Cop28 has indicated that the process is not a name-and-shame exercise.

The final negotiations will occur on the last two days of the summit, 11 and 12 December.

The key negotiating themes will involve money and how it flows to enable a just energy transition. The rich countries responsible for the highest carbon emissions will be pressured to meet their collective pledge to mobilise $100bn in annual climate finance, which will be used for climate change adaptation and mitigation measures.

There is also a widespread expectation that Cop28 will operationalise the Loss and Damage Fund, which will be made available to countries needing support to deal with the impact of climate change.

Related read: Lukewarm Cop27 ends

In late October, a declaration from the world’s 46 least-developed countries cited a “strong outcome operationalising the new Loss and Damage Fund” among their key expectations and priorities for Cop28.

Home to more than 14 per cent of the world’s population, these countries contribute about 1 per cent of emissions from fossil fuels and industrial processes and most are on the front line of the climate crisis.

The inclusion of loss and damage funding in the final Cop27 statement last year was considered a breakthrough milestone, and operationalising the fund – the final form and mechanisms of which remain unclear – will be a key achievement for Cop28.

Another key sticking point for a potential final agreement between the parties is the adoption and endorsement of phasing down or phasing out of fossil fuels, in particular unabated fossil fuels, which some observers say is going to be unlikely.

Of particular concern will be how a just energy transition will not disenfranchise some Global South countries keen to develop their hydrocarbons reserves to drive their economic development.

Most countries, companies and investors are also expected to sign up for the Tripling Initiative, or the agenda aiming to triple renewable energy capacity generation, to keep the 1.5 degrees Celsius cap on global warming within reach.

Thousands of meetings and engagements will focus on financing carbon abatement projects in key industries such as hydrocarbons, aluminium, steel and cement.

There will be plenty of talks and collaborations looking at climate technology innovations in sectors such as food and agriculture, transportation and mobility, buildings, power generation and petrochemicals.

The UAE’s leadership envisages that this year’s summit will be the most inclusive Cop ever, and plans to use it as a platform to spread its pro-climate and pro-growth agenda.

The UAE and other countries in the Middle East and North Africa region are expected to announce scores of projects and policies within the renewable energy, hydrogen, electric vehicles, carbon capture and technology sectors to boost their green credentials. 

There is palpable excitement and pride everywhere as the Expo 2020 Dubai site transforms into a global epicentre for climate talks starting on Thursday, and prepares to host an estimated 70,000 visitors from around the world.

But there is also some trepidation, as the event is taking place at a time of heightened geopolitical tensions in the Middle East and elsewhere. As things stand, the presidents of the world’s two largest carbon-emitting countries, which are also waging a global policy war to assert influence over much of the Middle East and Southeast Asia, have decided to skip Cop28.

Photo: Pixabay

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