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The 28th Conference of the Parties (COP 28) is underway in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Numerous global leaders, climate activists, business people and many groups are present, looking at the best ways to restore climate and find a way forward for protecting the climate for the future. COP, under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), convenes nations to deliberate and take action on mitigating climate change. This year’s conference is set to take place from 30th November to 12th December.

According to  a letter of parties written by the COP 28 Presidency, COP 28 is focusing, among others, on fast-tracking the energy transition and slashing emission by 2030. This timeframe is critical as emissions need to peak and rapidly decline to avoid surpassing the carbon budget, the maximum amount of carbon dioxide the world can emit to stay within safe warming limits. COP 28 will aim at securing stronger commitments from nations, encouraging them to enhance their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and align with more ambitious targets for emissions reduction. Collaboration among governments, businesses, and civil society will be pivotal to achieving these goals. The conference is also exploring strategies and initiatives that drive the transition to renewable energy sources, increase energy efficiency, and phase out reliance on fossil fuels. This includes fostering innovative technologies and policies that facilitate the swift adoption of sustainable energy solutions. 

The 8th day of COP 28 has already given us an insight into what the possible outcomes might be. COP 27 that was held in Egypt last year faced several challenges, including the struggle to achieve unanimous commitment among nations to align with the Paris Agreement’s ambitious targets. The inability to reach consensus on critical issues, especially regarding emissions reduction and financial support for vulnerable nations left much unfinished business on the table and all hopes had been put on COP 28 to resolve most of these questions. 

One question that has already received backlashes is the question of phasing out fossil fuels. Dr. Sultan al-Jaber, the current president of COP 28 who also doubles as UAE’s environment minister and at the same time is the C.E.O of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) surprised the world when he clearly stated that it would be impossible to stop burning fossil fuel and sustain economic development. He went ahead to say that, “there is no science out there, there is no scenario out there that says the phase-out of fossil fuel is what is going to achieve 1.5.” The backlash and controversy raised gives more doubts about what COP 28 will achieve regarding phasing out fossil fuels even when this is the important question that many climate activists have recommended to have the most attention.

Among the great achievements of COP 27 was the establishment of the loss and damage fund. This fund aims to provide financial assistance to nations most vulnerable and impacted by the effects of climate change. This fund would be collected from the major developed nations due to the fact that they have emitted the majority of the greenhouse gases driving the climate crisis. Vulnerable countries especially in Sub-Saharan Africa have suffered heavy consequences of Climate Change yet they have contributed less than 4 percent to climate change. The first day of COP 28 gave climate activists and lovers a smile on their faces as the Loss and Damage fund was passed. However only 429m dollars have been committed so far with the EU contributing the biggest chunk and the UAE contributing 100m dollars of it. Even though over 1.4b dollars is the required amount to give a successful push to this fund, 429m dollars is not a bad start with many developed nations promising to give in their contributions.

The first global stocktake of implementation of the Paris Agreement will also conclude at COP 28. The global stocktake is a process for countries and stakeholders to see where they are collectively making progress towards meeting the goals of the Paris Climate Change Agreement—and where they are not. The science from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) indicates that greenhouse gas emissions must peak before 2025 at the latest and decline 43% by 2030 to limit global warming to 1.5°C. Crossing the 1.5°C threshold risks unleashing far more severe climate change impacts, the IPCC warns. A lot of talks have already transpired that have taken the same closer to conclusion but no decision has been reached yet. Governments will take a decision on the global stocktake at COP28, which can be leveraged to raise ambition and action in this decade.

The world’s optimism is fueled by the potential of COP 28 to rectify these shortcomings, conclude on the works of the previous COPs and propel climate action forward. The Paris Agreement remains the cornerstone for collective global efforts to curb global warming from reaching below 2 degrees Celsius, ideally 1.5 degrees, compared to pre-industrial levels. The 1.5C threshold was the stretch target established in the Paris Agreement in 2015, a treaty in which 195 nations pledged to tackle climate change. The agreement aims to limit global warming to below 2c by the end of the century, and pursue efforts to keep warming within the safer limit of 1.5C. With the IPCC’s alarming reports underscoring the critical need to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the timeline for action has tightened. Fast-tracking the energy transition is crucial to curb emissions drastically within this decade. 

We are hoping that COP 28 won’t be another conference of mere talks without implementations of what is to save our climate.

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