COP 28: Dates, challenges, and stances
📅 Schedule, Location, and Themes of COP 28
The 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 28) will be held from November 30, 2023, to December 12, 2023, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The main points scheduled for COP 28 are as follows:
- The first Global Stocktake of climate action
- The work program on climate change mitigation
- The global goal on adaptation
- More equitable financing of climate action
- Operationalization of the loss and damage fund
🔍 But what is a COP?
The COnference of the Parties (COP) originated from the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992, which established the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Since 1995, the signatories of the UNFCCC have held annual meetings at the COPs to set common climate goals and monitor the implementation of the planned measures. Consequently, governments worldwide work together to address the challenges of climate change and aim to take coordinated actions in response.
💡 The Main Challenges of COP 28
Global Assessment: Progress since COP 21
COP 28 is shaping up to be one of the most important summits in the fight against climate change. Indeed, for the first time, member states will have to approve a “Global Stocktake” on the measures implemented since the adoption of the Paris Agreement in 2015 (COP 21). This will allow member states and stakeholders to assess collective progress by examining what has been done to limit global warming to +1.5°C.
However, experts from the IPCC have been clear in their latest publication: we are not on the right track. To adhere to the Paris Agreements, global emissions would need to be reduced by 43% by 2030 and 84% by 2050. This conference will be an opportunity to correct the course and increase ambitions to avoid the consequences of climate change.
According to Simon Stiell, Executive Secretary of the United Nations for Climate Change, “The success of the global stocktake will ultimately determine the success of COP28. It is the defining moment of this year, of this COP, and as it is one of only two stocktakes in this decisive decade of climate action, it will be crucial for achieving or not achieving our goals for 2030.”
Losses and Damages for Southern Countries: What’s Next?
Although the agreement on the creation of a “loss and damage” fund to support Southern countries was classified as historic at COP27 in Egypt, the implementation modalities remain difficult to achieve.
This fund is supposed to balance the fight against climate change. The aim would be to involve the highest-emitting countries in covering the damages of natural disasters suffered by the poorest countries. This agreement would help to limit their climate debt, improve their financing for adaptation, and strengthen solidarity with Northern countries.
Who finances it? Who benefits from it? How much?
On November 5, 2023, during a “transition committee” meeting involving 10 Northern countries and 14 Southern countries, negotiators managed to reach a last-minute agreement. The United States, initially opposed to this aid if China was among the beneficiaries, eventually accepted while maintaining reservations. The two presidents still had to employ a strong approach with the “take it or leave it” to reach this agreement.
Southern countries, who initially wanted implementation as soon as COP 28, remain somewhat unsatisfied despite this progress.
This “recommendation text” plans to establish a fund for a provisional duration of 4 years within the World Bank. While developing countries requested aid of 100 billion dollars per year, the text unfortunately does not mention a financial goal.
The text is even more vague regarding the beneficiaries, where a minimum percentage of allocation would go towards the least developed countries. The latter also mentions that “the scale of the impacts of climate events must be taken into account,” as well as the “priorities and needs of particularly vulnerable developed countries to the adverse effects of climate change,” without providing more details.
Despite this small step for Southern countries, a big step remains according to the Emirati president of COP 28: “It is now imperative that we quickly activate and capitalize the fund,” because “the world does not need an empty bank account” but “an operational fund that can really make a difference.”
Exiting Fossil Fuels: Will Oil Prince Sultan Al Jaber Save Us?
Despite numerous discussions at previous COPs, fossil fuels remain a major unresolved issue, even though their abandonment is imperative to limit global climate disruption. COP 28 will be no exception. Indeed, several elements indicate that no agreement will be signed regarding the elimination of fossil fuels.
Firstly, the appointment of Sultan Al Jaber as president of COP 28 is controversial. He is not only the Minister of Industry of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) but is also known as an “oil prince” due to his status as CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC). His election via his position as CEO of Masdar, the government’s renewable energy investment company, is far from unanimous. Indeed, many environmental NGOs find it unacceptable that he holds such an important role for humanity. Some even say that “COP 28 has lost all credibility.”
Although the elimination or gradual reduction of fossil fuels is at the heart of the debates, Mr. Al Jaber, true to his dual role, is convinced that the gradual reduction is “inevitable”. He states: “The gradual phasing out of fossil fuels is inevitable and essential – it will happen. What I’m trying to say is that you can’t unplug the world from the current energy system before building the new energy system. Transitions do not happen overnight, transition takes time.”
He asserts that this transition must depend on the construction of a new energy system. That’s why the presidency aims to adopt several goals:
- Triple the capacity of renewable energies in the world to 11,000 GW by 2030;
- Double the improvement in energy efficiency by 2030;
- Double hydrogen production to 180 million tons by 2030.
Unfortunately, the presidency’s discourse is at odds with the actions of the country where the world’s largest oil company, Saudi Aramco, owned 90% by the United Arab Emirates, invests much more in new drilling wells than in renewable energies.
To be fair, it should be noted that the United Arab Emirates were the first in the Middle East to announce a “Net Zero” strategic initiative. Their second Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) aims to reduce emissions by 93.2 million tCO2eq.
🤝 Key Positions
The EU: Global Leader in Climate Action?
The EU aims to present a united front at the upcoming COP 28. Teresa Ribera Rodríguez, Spain’s Third Vice-President and acting Minister for Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge, comments on this: “Today, we are sending a strong message to our partners: the EU is the global leader in climate action. In Dubai, we will play a leading role in the negotiations to demonstrate the EU’s firm commitment to ecological transition and to encourage our partners to follow our example. The EU is a driver of change and we must speak with one voice on the global stage. We simply cannot use the difficulties encountered as an excuse to revert to the situation before the Paris Agreement.”
Despite this displayed ambition, consensus must be found on all debated subjects, with clear arguments in favor of a transition towards the abandonment of fossil fuels as an example. Unfortunately, the European Union will not propose a fixed date as this point was not resolved during the discussions, reports Le Monde on October 17, 2023.
During the negotiations, two major blocs clashed. The first group, led by Germany and France, advocates for the unconditional elimination of fossil fuels. The intention of these countries is to position Europe as the most ambitious continent in terms of ecology. Unfortunately, they faced opposition from countries like Hungary or Italy, which primarily sought to protect their industries that cannot be decarbonized.
Chile: Leading the Transition to Renewable Energy
Chile is a leader in the transition to renewable energies, with 90% of its electricity coming from renewable sources.
Indeed, Chile’s energy transition is worthy of emulation by other countries. The nation has demonstrated that it is possible to shift to an economy based on clean energies without sacrificing economic growth. Chile’s experience is particularly significant for developing countries, often faced with the challenge of balancing economic development with environmental protection.
At COP28, Chile will share its experiences in energy transition and green hydrogen with other countries. Chile will be a key player in knowledge sharing and networking for businesses, governments, and other stakeholders interested in energy transition.