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What are the key outcomes of the COP28 climate summit? 

What did COP28 achieve and what needs to happen next to ensure the world can keep the worst consequences of climate change at bay? Here are the key takeaways from the conference, which will also shape the priorities for climate action in 2024 and beyond.

What COP28 in Dubai why important
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As the curtains close on COP28 in Dubai, the global community is left to reflect on the outcomes that will steer climate action in the years to come. This gathering of over 80,000 individuals from across the globe marked an important moment in the fight against climate change. Against the backdrop of a global energy and humanitarian crisis, increasing extreme weather events, and rising emissions, COP28 aimed to instil renewed solidarity between nations and advance the objectives of the 2015 Paris Agreement. In this comprehensive overview, we delve into the key outcomes that emerged from the conference. 

COP28 marked a breakthrough with the establishment of a ‘loss and damage’ agreement, initially funded at over $400 million and later surpassing $700 million. This fund aims to help the world’s poorest and most vulnerable countries in dealing with the irreversible impacts of climate change. However, concerns linger about the absence of specific details on the scale and replenishment cycle in the agreement, raising questions about its long-term sustainability.  

As the loss and damage costs in developing countries are estimated to surpass $400 billion annually, the effectiveness of climate mitigation and adaptation efforts becomes crucial. The World Bank is set to manage the fund temporarily, a decision met with widespread criticism. The challenge lies in ensuring transparent and direct access to funds for vulnerable communities and fostering a fair and sustainable approach that aligns with the principles of climate justice. 

Building on the theme, this COP highlighted the importance of backing strategies to cope with the effects of climate change. The final text maintains the push to double adaptation finance and lays out assessments and tracking for adaptation needs in the coming years. Encouragingly, the text now includes a clear target year, 2030, for goals related to water security, ecosystem restoration, and health. Nonetheless, the commitment to closing the adaptation finance gap saw a weakening of language. 

Renewable energy emerged as a central theme, with the Global Decarboniszation Accelerator (GDA) witnessing over 100 countries committing to tripling global renewable capacity and doubling energy efficiency by 2030. This ambitious goal, if achieved, promises cleaner air, reduced reliance on fossil fuels, and increased incentives for adopting energy-efficient technologies. 

The potential benefits are significant, but the challenges can’t be overlooked. The industry warned that to meet the goal governments will need to push through significant planning reforms, accelerate grid connections for new projects, and tackle supply chain bottlenecks. While renewables are the cheapest energy option for most people, high upfront costs and interest rates often put wind and solar out of reach for developing countries.  

A pivotal debate at COP28 revolved around the phase-out or phase-down of fossil fuels. While climate scientists stress the necessity of a rapid and managed phase-out to stay within the Paris Agreement target range, conflicting statements from COP28’s president, Sultan Al Jaber, stirred controversy, claiming there is “no science” indicating that a phase-out of fossil fuels is needed to restrict global heating to 1.5C.  

The final text “calls on parties, in a nationally determined manner” to transition away from fossil fuels in energy systems “in a just, orderly and equitable manner, accelerating action in this critical decade, so as to achieve net zero by 2050 in keeping with the science”. Compared to previous texts, the notable change is a requirement for accelerated action this decade. The updated text also emphasiszes the “substantial” reduction of non-CO2 emissions from the energy system, with a specific focus on addressing methane emissions, highlighting it as a priority for the present decade. 

Although the agreement’s recognition of the need to shift away from fossil fuels is a positive step, it includes several caveats and loopholes for carbon capture, gas as a transition fuel and fossil subsidies that threaten our goal to limit global warming at well below 2°C. While some are labelling this deal as a landmark, it is more a reflection of past shortcomings at COP rather than a real step forward in addressing the urgent need to stop the burning of coal, oil, and gas. 

Last December at COP15, countries agreed on a plan called the Global Biodiversity Framework. The goal is to stop the decline of land and water, restore 30% of damaged ecosystems by 2030, and get new funds to help nature recover. While the final text reaffirms the need to stop and turn around deforestation by 2030, there aren’t specific plans on how to do it.  

Key players including the Science-based Targets Initiative (SBTi), the Voluntary Carbon Market Integrity Initiative (VCMI), the Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG Protocol), and the Integrity Council for the Voluntary Carbon Market (ICVCM) joined forces. Their goal is to create unity across standard setters, fostering end-to-end integrity in voluntary carbon markets. This collaboration addresses a longstanding issue where different approaches among these companies have led to confusion and a lack of action from businesses. 

While SBTi emphasise the importance of businesses directly reducing emissions over funding climate action, the VCMI and ICVCM encourage both emission reductions and climate funding action to bridge existing gaps. The collaboration has the potential to bring clarity and instil confidence among businesses by streamlining and creating an effective framework that empowers businesses to take decisive action in the fight against climate change. 


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Thursday 30th May 2024, 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm