Did COP28 Achieve What It Promised?

December 18, 2023
2 min read
Did COP28 Achieve What It Promised?Did COP28 Achieve What It Promised?
We are still in this race.
UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Simon Stiell at the closing of COP28 in Dubai on 13 December 2023.

Last year, the COP ended with ‘’much homework and little time,’’ highlighting the need to not only deal with numbers but also create channels of accountable and measurable climate action around the world.

To drive the point home, delegates and leaders across the globe gathered in Dubai in what is the biggest intergovernmental climate conference of the year under the theme of "Unite, Act, and Deliver." 

This year, the COP addressed climate change on many levels: mitigation, loss and damage, finance, adaptation, and more. In a letter to parties dated July 2023, the Incoming Presidency announced that COP 28 will focus on four paradigm shifts:

  • Fast-tracking the energy transition and slashing emissions before 2030
  • Transforming climate finance by delivering on old promises and setting the framework for a new deal on finance
  • Putting nature, people, lives, and livelihoods at the heart of climate action
  • Mobilizing for the most inclusive COP ever

Here’s a look at the key outcomes of COP28

Mitigation

The first global stocktake since Paris, 2015

The global stocktake is a 5-year checkpoint prescribed under the Paris Agreement, which consolidates and presents all the reports, progress, action, and results as shown by various stakeholders across climate talks.

The first global stocktake was concluded at COP28 and can be considered the most vital outcome of the COP.

The stocktake acknowledged progress in mitigation efforts, noting reductions in global deforestation rates and a rise in renewable energy deployment.

Although it noted that emissions have started to plateau, they are still far from the required trajectory to reach net zero by 2050 (43%, to be exact). As a result, global NDCs (Nationally Determined Contributions) will be revised.

The end of fossil fuels–finally?

In what is being called ‘the beginning of the end’ for fossil fuels, a landmark agreement (The UAE consensus) was reached calling for an accelerated transition away from fossil fuels to reach net zero by 2050.

It includes a target to triple renewables and double energy efficiency by 2030. While not explicitly calling for phasing out oil and gas, it marks a significant shift in language toward fossil fuel reduction–making this agreement truly historic in many ways.

Loss and Damage

Establishing a new loss and damage fund

Nations contributing the least to greenhouse gas emissions are also the least equipped to deal with droughts, sea-level rise and other climate-related destruction. As the climate crisis unfolds, these events will occur more frequently, and the consequences will become more severe.

Suggested reading: From Risk to Reward: How Natural Disaster Forecasting Tools Can Help Businesses and Insurance Coverage

To support this cause, a "Loss and Damage Fund" was greenlit on Day 1 for vulnerable countries already facing climate impacts. This $475 million fund aims to help compensate vulnerable nations for the impact of climate change by ensuring that vital infrastructure can be rebuilt or replaced with more sustainable versions.

However, details on funding and governance remain unclear.

Finance

COP28 highlighted the fact that all finance is climate finance. For companies and investors, it suggests that stopping climate change is about addressing risks and opportunities and focusing on sustainable growth for the whole economic system.

A commitment to double climate finance by 2025 compared to 2019 levels was reiterated, but concrete steps to achieve this still needed to be completed. There was also an emphasis on increasing private sector involvement in climate finance through blended finance and other innovative mechanisms.

Adaptation

‘The Global Goal on Adaptation’ adopted

At the 2015 Paris Agreement, negotiators aimed to strengthen adaptive capacity and reduce vulnerability to climate change but they struggled due to clear targets or measurement criteria.

However, COP28 saw a landmark agreement on global time-bound targets for the adaptation policy process.

The Global Goal on Adaptation framework acknowledged the widening adaptation finance gap; however, the Global Stocktake stresses the urgent need to scale up financial support beyond the current commitment, recognizing the evolving nature of adaptation needs.

To address this, a two-year work program was set up to develop indicators for measuring and assessing progress towards the goal’s overarching targets. However, a clear roadmap is still lacking on increasing finance for adaptation – especially the goal of doubling adaptation finance by 2025. 

Businesses

As a measure to counter the increasing intensity of climate change on businesses, climate data was one of the major solutions presented. To analyze companies’ climate progress and to attribute the impact of investments on the climate, data is what matters.

Suggested reading: What Went Down at COP27 and What Does It Mean For Businesses?

“Data is the soil, the water and the sunshine for everything we’re doing,” Oliver Marchand, Head of MSCI’s Climate Risk Center, “It’s a central component of the solution to climate change.”

When it comes to climate disclosures for businesses, it’s apparent that it is not a question of if but when.

Did  COP28 achieve its goals?

While promises were made and policies discussed, there was one thing that the majority of the conference delegates agreed upon—shifting away from fossil fuels and swiftly increasing reliance on renewable energy.

Countries are now responsible for translating the UAE Consensus into their NDCs via domestic legislation and policies. Governments, businesses, and climate activists must agree on various levels, including using fossil fuels, increasing the use of renewable energy, and improving overall energy efficiency.

Source: Climate Action Tracker

Conclusively, we can say that while new initiatives could bend the emissions curve, they are not enough to reach Paris Agreement goals. A substantial "target gap" remains, necessitating further action in areas like fossil fuels and renewables.

While these global agreements provide crucial signals, the outcome of the world's climate fate depends on countries fulfilling their roles in addressing the climate crisis. 

COP28 was a step forward, but the race to 1.5°C requires significant acceleration.

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Learn more about how your business can use climate data to adapt during the time of climate crisis. Get in touch or leave a comment below.

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