As the world grapples with the ever-increasing threat of climate change, international cooperation remains crucial to addressing this global crisis. The 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in UAE was eagerly anticipated as a potential turning point in our fight against climate change. This article explores whether COP28 so far represents a genuine step towards climate progress or another missed opportunity in the battle against a warming planet.

We speak to David Peters, Chairman at Coalternative Energy, who sums up the key points so far for us:

 

The Urgency of Climate Action

Climate change is no longer a distant threat but a pressing reality that affects communities, ecosystems, and economies worldwide. Extreme weather events, rising sea levels, and disrupted climate patterns are wreaking havoc on our planet. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has repeatedly warned that we have a limited window of opportunity to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, beyond which the consequences could be catastrophic.

 

Key Expectations for COP28

COP28 arrives with high expectations and a sense of urgency. Here are some key issues and expectations for the conference:

  1. Increased Emission Reduction Commitments: Countries must significantly enhance their emissions reduction targets. The ambition should be to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, as called for by the IPCC.
  2. Finance for Climate Adaptation: Developing nations need financial support to adapt to the impacts of climate change. COP28 should address the longstanding issue of climate finance, ensuring that funds reach those most in need.
  3. Biodiversity and Ecosystem Protection: Climate change and biodiversity loss are interconnected challenges. COP28 should emphasize the need to protect ecosystems and promote nature-based solutions.
  4. Just Transition: The transition to a low-carbon economy should be just and equitable, protecting the livelihoods of workers and vulnerable communities.
  5. Technology Transfer: Sharing clean energy and sustainable technologies should be a priority to help developing nations leapfrog fossil fuels.

So how is it going so far?

Fossil Fuel Phasing: A Missed Opportunity and a Disappointing Remark

At Cop26 in Glasgow, a historic commitment to phase down coal usage was achieved. This marked a milestone after decades of climate conferences had largely sidestepped the issue of fossil fuels.

It is disappointing that there was no progress on fossil fuel usage targets at Cop27, and to make matters worse, at Cop28, Sultan al-Jaber, the head of United Nations climate talks this week incorrectly stated in his address that there was ‘no science to support phasing out fossil fuels to avoid catastrophic warming’, a statement which caused alarm to climate scientists.

It is beyond disappointing and shows a real need for better climate education, even among those being presented as experts.

Cop28 so far is therefore not delivering on fossil fuel expectations, and this is disappointing.

In my opinion, there is no reasonable excuse for continued reliance on coal.  It is not necessary.  There are a growing number of coalternatives available, from black pellets (which can be immediately utilised by existing coal plants with ease) to alternative power technologies which are rapidly advancing.

Unfortunately, when we are continually looking to individuals and organisations with major investments in fossil fuels to fix the problem, solutions and trust needed to secure progress is likely to be difficult to find.

Is COP28 on the Right Track?

While COP28 holds great promise, skepticism remains. Here are some challenges and concerns:

  1. Political Will: Historically, some countries have been reluctant to commit to ambitious climate action, often due to economic interests. COP28 must bridge these divides and encourage greater cooperation.
  2. Implementation: Previous COPs have seen countries make commitments that are not always followed through. COP28 should focus on mechanisms for transparent and accountable implementation.
  3. Youth and Civil Society Engagement: The involvement of youth activists and civil society is crucial for climate action. COP28 should ensure that these voices are heard and incorporated into decision-making processes.
  4. Climate Justice: Addressing the historic responsibility of developed nations for carbon emissions and supporting vulnerable nations must be at the forefront of COP28 discussions.

Conclusion

COP28 represents a critical juncture in the fight against climate change. The urgency of the crisis demands bold and ambitious action from nations worldwide. Whether COP28 will be remembered as a milestone in climate progress or a missed opportunity—a COP-out—depends on the willingness of nations to set aside short-term interests and work together for the long-term survival of our planet. It is not just another conference; it is a test of our commitment to future generations and the health of our planet. The world will be watching closely, hoping for a brighter and more sustainable future.