• Mon. Jun 17th, 2024

Year-ender 2023: Key moments and significant advances in Climate Change Conference – COP28


NEW DELHI: Representatives from almost 200 nations, along with business leaders, climate scientists, indigenous peoples, journalists, and various other experts, have gathered in Dubai for the COP28 climate summit. Two-week long meeting concluded at the end of a year that is poised to become the hottest on record.
The key provision in the COP28 agreement involves a commitment to “phasing out fossil fuels from energy systems in a fair, systematic, and equitable manner, with the aim of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 in alignment with scientific findings.”
In the course of two weeks of negotiations, the COP28 presidency announced that over $85 billion had been pledged through 11 commitments and declarations in support of climate action, as of December 13.
The financial aspect is the flip side of the fossil fuels debate. When affluent nations urge their developing counterparts to commit to ambitious energy transition plans, the common response is often, “Who will bear the financial burden?”
Similar inquiries arose during governmental discussions on climate change adaptation targets.
A definitive response has remained elusive. However, there is hope for more clarity in 2024 when governments are scheduled to deliberate and, ideally, reach a consensus on a new collective objective at COP29 in Baku in November.
Money exerted influence beyond the confines of UN diplomacy. The much-anticipated reforms of multilateral development banks, inspired by the Bridgetown Agenda, have unfolded at a slower pace than anticipated.
Notably, the World Bank implemented a reduction in its equity-to-loan ratio, resulting in the liberation of $4 billion each year.

Official announcement: 2023 declared hottest year on record

During the initial days of COP28, successive reports highlighted the deteriorating climate conditions. Copernicus and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) European scientists issued warnings about record temperatures in 2023, reaching 1.40°C above the pre-industrial average (1850-1900).
The last decade stands as the warmest on record, a consequence of “increasing concentrations of heat-trapping greenhouse gases from human activities,” emphasized Petteri Taalas, WMO’s head. The urgency of the situation, compounded by melting ice caps, prompted UN Chief António Guterres to implore COP28 for a “complete” phase-out of fossil fuels.

Insufficient commitment from oil companies sparks concerns

This widespread problem remained ever-present. The pledge announced on December 2 in Dubai by 50 oil companies to achieve “zero” methane emissions from their operations by 2030 was deemed insufficient by Mr. Guterres: “While the fossil fuel industry is starting to acknowledge the issue, the promises made clearly do not meet the required standards.”

134 countries signed a declaration on food systems

A historic moment in COP history occurred on December 1 as 134 countries signed a declaration committing to address the climate impacts of the food industry.
These countries, representing 5.7 billion people, 70% of global food consumption, and 76% of emissions from the global food system, made history. However, observers highlight that the declaration lacks quantified targets and overlooks the issue of livestock.

A collective of 22 nations calls for a tripling of nuclear energy

On December 2, a coalition of 22 countries, including the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, the United States, Canada, and Japan, signed a declaration advocating a threefold increase in nuclear power generation capacity between 2020 and 2050. The aim is to reduce dependence on oil, gas, and coal.
Among the signatories are 12 EU member states: Bulgaria, Czechia, Finland, France, Hungary, Moldova, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Sweden.

35 nations pledge recognition of clean hydrogen certificates

A significant development occurred on December 6 as 35 countries, including the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Belgium, reached an agreement to mutually acknowledge their clean hydrogen certification schemes. This milestone is expected to facilitate the transportation of low-carbon hydrogen across borders, produced using renewable energies.

Intense pressure leads to compromise on fossil fuels in COP28 declaration

Oil-producing and exporting countries, along with Sultan al-Jaber, the President of COP28, faced intense pressure to acknowledge the necessity of transitioning away from fossil fuels, responsible for 80% of global warming.

The compromise was reached on December 13.

Addressing those opposing a clear reference to a fossil fuel phase-out in the COP28 text, Mr. Guterres stated at the conference’s conclusion, “A fossil fuel phase-out is inevitable, whether they like it or not. Let’s hope it doesn’t come too late.


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