Powering Change at COP28: Fossil-Free Future and Global Resilience Agenda
As the world gears up for the 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28), the stage is set for a pivotal moment in the ongoing battle against climate change. This conference is a beacon of hope, bringing nations, companies, and advocates together in their shared mission to address this critical issue. However, there are some specific developments at the COP28 to watch out for that have the potential to establish monumental milestones in the fight against climate change. Here, we explore the highlights and developments of this significant event, where global leaders strive to forge a path towards a sustainable and resilient future.
In the spotlight are 130 influential companies, pushing for a transition to a fossil-free future. They stand as a powerful collective force, advocating for change. Additionally, the global cooling pledge, global stocktake, and the Global Goal on Adaptation promise ambitious steps forward. We’ll also discuss the imperative Loss and Damage Fund, addressing the uncharted costs of climate change.
As the world watches, COP28 represents a pivotal moment in our journey to combat climate change and create a better world. We take a look at the significant changes and commitments to watch out for that this global gathering will bring.
Over 130 major corporations, including Ikea, Volvo Cars, eBay, and Heineken, with a combined annual revenue of nearly $1 trillion, have issued an open letter calling on world leaders to establish a timeline for phasing out fossil fuels at the upcoming UN climate summit, COP28. This collective plea marks the first instance of such a substantial group of companies jointly urging governments to move away from fossil fuels. They emphasize the severe impacts and financial costs associated with increasing extreme weather events resulting from climate change. Signatories include AstraZeneca, BT Group, Nestlé, Unilever, Bayer, Ørsted, Iberdrola, and Vodafone.
COP28 begins on November 30 in Dubai, against a backdrop of more scientists warning that the world is not on track to avoid the worst effects of climate change by meeting the goals of the 2015 Paris agreement, which committed countries to limiting global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. One of the most difficult challenges will be how quickly governments should phase out fossil fuels.
Global Cooling Pledge
The commitment to reduce carbon dioxide emissions linked to cooling systems by a minimum of 68 percent by 2050, compared to 2022 levels, has emerged through collaborative efforts by the United Nations Environment Programme’s Cool Coalition and the United Arab Emirates, the host of COP28.
This pledge necessitates substantial investments by nations to transition towards sustainable cooling technologies, potentially resulting in increased costs for such products. However, it appears that some developing countries, including India may abstain from endorsing this global agreement to curtail emissions related to cooling during the upcoming COP28 climate conference. According to media reports, India’s decision stems from its priority to ensure affordable cooling solutions for its vast population.
This highlights the complex dynamics and diverse priorities that will be discussed and negotiated at the COP28 summit, as nations grapple with the dual challenge of combating climate change while addressing their unique socio-economic needs.
For the first time, governments will conduct a “global stocktake” at COP28, defining each nation’s “nationally determined contributions” (NDCs), or pledges to decrease emissions made in Paris.
The world is definitely falling short of its Paris targets, but the CoP president has chosen not to single out specific countries for censure. Instead, all governments must submit revised NDCs in September that are rigorous enough to meet the 1.5-degree target.
It’s similar to taking inventory. It comprises investigating all elements of where the globe stands in terms of speeding climate action and giving support, identifying gaps, and collaborating to chart a better future path. The stocktake is a moment for course correction, a chance to increase ambition to prevent the worst effects of climate change. The global response to the stocktake, not the stocktake itself, will determine the outcome.
Global Goal on Adaptation
The Global Goal on Adaptation represents a critical framework adopted by nations to collectively monitor and evaluate their efforts in addressing climate change’s impacts. However, the challenge lies in the inherent complexity of quantifying adaptation. Unlike emissions reductions, which can be precisely measured, adaptation is a multifaceted, context-specific endeavor. Success in adapting to climate change can vary from one community to another, making it a subjective experience.
As we approach COP28, negotiators are actively engaged in discussions to establish feasible and comparable targets and indicators that can measure adaptation success consistently. This effort is vital for the upcoming Global Stocktake in 2027. The urgency is undeniable – the window of opportunity to secure a livable and sustainable future for all is rapidly closing.
In the face of mounting climate challenges, the Global Goal on Adaptation stands as a beacon of hope, emphasizing the need for collective action to safeguard our shared future. This will be one of the most important matters to look out for at COP this year.
Loss and Damage Fund
The Loss and Damage (L&D) Fund marked a significant milestone at COP27 in Egypt, ending a more than 30-year delay since the initial proposal in 1991, predating the establishment of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Historically, fears of liability and compensation payments had thwarted the establishment of such a fund, with developed nations resisting the idea.
While concrete compensation based on historical emissions remains off the table, developed countries have now relented and agreed to the L&D Fund. This fund’s purpose is to address the inevitable consequences of climate change due to insufficient mitigation. Nonetheless, progress in designing the fund appears uncertain. Despite year-long efforts in 2023, the most recent negotiation meeting among country representatives hit an impasse.
Critical issues, such as fund administration, country eligibility, and financial mobilization, remain unresolved. Challenges persist in determining how the fund will address climate-induced displacement and non-economic losses, which encompass cultural, societal, and territorial impacts—areas where assigning a monetary value is intricate. This impasse may potentially revive discussions about justice and compensation, especially in light of the disquieting results from the Global Stocktake.