The recently concluded COP 28, held in the United Arab Emirates from November 30 to December 12, 2023, brought together representatives from 198 countries to address the urgent challenges posed by climate change. With the year 2023 predicted to be the warmest on record, the summit delved into crucial themes aimed at mitigating the causes of climate change and adapting to its inevitable impacts. In this article, I’ll explore the key discussions and priorities that emerged during COP 28.
COP 28 began against the backdrop of alarming climate data. According to studies by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), September 2023 stands out as the warmest month ever recorded. Dr. Sarah Kopnick, the NOAA administrator, emphasized that this warmth is part of a broader trend, with 2023 likely to go down as the hottest year globally. This sobering reality set the stage for the urgent discussions on climate action.
The four main intersecting themes at COP 28 were technology and innovation, inclusion, communities residing at border regions, and finance. These themes underscored the holistic approach required to address the multifaceted challenges of climate change.
COP 28 aimed to conduct a comprehensive global assessment of climate change actions, evaluating progress against the targets outlined in the Paris Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The summit acknowledged a deviation from the intended path, prompting a renewed commitment to ensuring that promises translate into tangible actions.
One of the central imperatives discussed at COP 28 was the need to accelerate the energy transition to meet the 1.5-degree target. Despite advancements in renewable energy, a study published in Earth Science System Data revealed that greenhouse gas emissions are at an all-time high. The summit focused on innovative solutions, including the expansion of renewable energy, hydrogen fuel utilization, and advancements in carbon capture technologies.
A groundbreaking initiative at COP 28, named « Protecting Lives and the Resilience and Stability of Societies, » highlighted the interconnectedness of climate change and human health. The summit recognized the threats posed by air pollution, limited access to clean water, and barriers to essential commodities, placing people at the forefront of climate action.
Understanding the impact of climate finance on services trade was a crucial aspect of COP 28. Historically, global trade activities have contributed to a rise in greenhouse gases worldwide, accounting for 25% of emissions in size, including production and logistics. The summit aimed to explore the potential of business activities in emission reduction, with a focus on promoting the market for electric vehicles and non-plastic packaging.
Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, the President of COP 28, emphasized the crucial role of city managers in the fight against climate change. The summit provided a platform for local leaders to form new partnerships, advocate for swift energy transitions, secure climate finance, and ensure that local voices are heard on the international stage.
Looking ahead to the next 10 years, COP 28 underscored that climate and environmental risks must take precedence in global risk assessment. The urgency of effective leadership, global collaboration, and sustained efforts to address climate change became increasingly evident at this critical juncture. The insights from COP 28 will hopefully guide nations toward more ambitious and effective climate strategies, ensuring a sustainable and resilient future for generations to come.