November is here and once more a new United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP) on climate change is in our midst. The international event gathers world leaders and experts, on this occasion in Dubai, and is a crucial platform for tackling the environmental challenges facing us.
With just a few days to go before COP28, we lay out what could happen at the summit and look forward to the debates, news and decisions that will mark the direction of our collective future.
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COP28 in Dubai: the stage for climate action
The planet is already tackling unprecedented consequences derived from climate change. With global temperatures reaching record levels, and extreme weather events increasingly frequent and intense, this year’s United Nations conference on climate change, COP28, is a vital opportunity to correct our course and speed up actions to tackle the crisis.
Governments, corporations, NGOs and citizens will meet from 30 November to 12 December in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), to analyze the progress achieved and define specific solutions for the most pressing problem of our time.
This is the first climate change summit chaired by an executive from the fossil fuel sector, Sultan Al Jaber, CEO of the UAE state oil company, the UAE being the first Arab country to adhere to the global objectives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The main areas that will be discussed at COP28 are:
- Speeding up the energy transition and reducing emissions before 2030
- Transforming the financing of the fight against climate change, fulfilling established promises and putting in place a new financial framework
- Placing nature, people, lives and subsistence means at the heart of climate action
- Increasing inclusion at COP, thus guaranteeing that decisions and debates take place with the collaboration of indigenous peoples and local communities.
COP28: the moment to take stock - and up the ante
Seven years have passed since the Paris Agreement - and in another seven it will be 2030, the deadline set for achieving decarbonization of the planet. Countries are facing the first Global Stocktake for the application of the agreement, to assess whether their plans and measures can put a brake on global warming.
It is also the moment to up the climate ante in relation to those plans. As COP28 opens its doors, the Paris Agreement signatories will have to update their decarbonization goals (the Nationally Determined Contributions, NDCs).
The UN assessment of these goals is not encouraging. Small steps are not enough; they point to a mere 2% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to 2019.
And yet the latest data from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) indicates that greenhouse gas emissions need to fall by 43% by 2030 from 2019 levels. This will be fundamental in limiting the temperature increase to 1.5 ºC by the end of the century and avoiding the worst impacts of climate change, which include more frequent droughts, heatwaves and destructive rain, says the expert group. Data reflect the persistent large gap between scientific concern and political decision-making.
“Greenhouse gas emissions need to fall by 43% by 2030 from 2019 levels”
What will happen with fossil fuels at COP28?
Another key issue on the table in Dubai will be the progressive elimination of fossil fuels and the subsidies and help they receive. Scientists and organizations like the UN are clear about this: to mitigate climate change, coal, oil and gas production must decline rapidly and world renewable energy generation must triple by 2030.
The great majority of NDC updates presented so far have committed to promoting renewable technologies as an accelerator for the decarbonization their economies. But, according to some reports, to date only 4% of these plans refer to the elimination of subsidies and public grants for the fuels responsible for most emissions.
Add to this the revelation, in a report published recently, that by 2030 governments are planning to use 110% more fossil fuel than needed to to limit global warming to 1.5 °C – which is also 69% more than the maximum permitted production to comply with the 2 °C goal.
“To mitigate climate change, coal, oil and gas production must decline rapidly and world renewable energy generation needs to triple by 2030”
Indeed, Earth’s average temperature in July temporarily reached 1.5 ° C above pre-industrial levels, one of the most symbolic limits of the Paris Agreement. If we don’t want to continue to experience thermometers breaking records year after year, and life on the planet becoming more difficult by the day, we must have faith that COP28 will offer the world the specific, ambitious solutions the climate crisis requires. We will soon see what steps the countries take at the summit - and the agreements they make.