Road to COP28: Twenty-Eight Points of Consideration

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By Adewale Adesanya and Dernae Rowe

COPs, or ‘Conferences of Parties,’ stand as global summits that aim to unite states, regional bodies, and diverse non-state actors. They fuel vibrant discussions, ignite collaborations, and forge groundbreaking deals on climate action. The upcoming COP28 conference is scheduled to be held from November 30th to December 12th, 2023, at Expo City in Dubai. This article provides 28 need-to-know facts leading up to COP28 as a collection of insights from various reports and news around the conference.

#1.       Affluent nations have yet to meet the pre-inflation $100-billion-dollar climate fund pledge initially promised for 2020.

The climate fund pledges initially made in 2009 were intended to serve as compensation for damages made to the most vulnerable, low emissions nations. Climate financing plans also include the Loss and Damage fund agreed upon in COP27.

Sources: Council on Foreign Relations; OECD

#2.       Climate financing gains traction as COP28 approaches.

Climate financing is critical to support countries’ plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, the majority of public and/or private funding is offered in the form of debt such as loans. The high interest rates often associated with climate financing debt detract from climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts.

#3.       Diplomatic talks around climate financing and strategies are taking on a political tone.

The infusion of politics into discussions regarding climate funding and the broader shift to clean energy has resulted in fewer concrete actions and an increase in political maneuvering. For example, global demand for traditional energy sources such as coal is set to remain at an all-time high in 2023.

#4.       Scientists and climate experts harbor little optimism regarding diplomatic climate talks.

Scientists and climate experts have long warned of the dangers of global greenhouse gas emissions on worldwide warming. They agree that more action needs to be taken to achieve climate goals. They believe that diplomatic talks have done little to satisfy the seemingly non-binding climate commitments.

#5.       There have been significant developments in the climate regulatory landscape and investment space – COP28 will likely see more policy diffusion.

The policy changes in developed countries such as the U.S.’ recent reintroduction of the Green Deal, have historically affected the policymaking in other developed and developing governments. Leading up to COP28, as new changes unfold, policy diffusion is likely to accelerate.

#6.       The prospect of reaching the 1.5oC warming target remains unlikely.

A recently published report from the UN shows that worldwide climate plans fall short in their efforts to contain a global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius. It is critical that major strides are made at COP28 to get back on track with this goal. If long-term strategies are firmly integrated in a timely fashion, greenhouse gas emissions could be sixty-three (63%) lower in 2050 than 2019.

#7.       Policy and investment progress to date have taken a protectionist approach – each country has been more concerned about their national interests.

The jury is still out on whether COP28 can change the status quo on this trend.

#8.       Developing countries must exhibit a strong resolve to avoid being marginalized in the swift adoption of clean energy.

The initial global shift to fossil fuels primarily favored developed nations – or the global north. Developing nations that take advantage of the clean energy transition shift could potentially transform their economies and accelerate growth.

#9.       Based on the common but differentiated responsibility (CBDR) principle, developed nations have yet to fulfill their various agreements in climate financing.

This could further climate injustices if not addressed at this year’s conference and negotiations. In addition, a report by the UN shows that wealthy countries have lowered their monetary commitment by 15% since 2020 to help developing nations manage the effects of climate change. The US had the most significant deduction of almost fifty percent (47%).

#10.     The successes in addressing climate challenges have largely been attributed to the impact of individuals, communities, grassroots movements, and local initiatives.

The success in drawing awareness to acute environmental issues can be traced back to the 1800s grassroot conservation movements. Today, non-profit organizations and grassroot groups are helping communities and local governments to “walk the talk” when it comes to sustainability.

#11.     While frontline nations have been worst hit by the impact of climate change, rich nations have also suffered devastating losses.

Though some are more equipped than others, no country is immune to the impending catastrophe of climate change. The UK, an economic powerhouse, forecasts that climate change will have a direct effect on the economy in the form of increased inflation volatility.

#12.     COP28 will be focusing on strategies to navigate complex challenges that have hindered the global clean energy transition.

Inflation, supply chain issues, a spike in price of clean energy technologies, and residual effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have been a setback for the global net zero carbon transition and emissions reductions. COP28 serves as an opportunity to tackle these complex issues

#13.     The location of COP28 is in the United Arab Emirates, a region that ranks among the largest oil producers globally.

The political and economic influence of fossil fuels in this region may overshadow or lessen the urgency for immediate action.

#14.     During this year’s COP, the U.S. will engage in discussions with representatives from developing nations to reduce China’s impact on their infrastructure and green economy expansion.

Achieving this may prove challenging given China’s extensive foreign investments.

#15.     Beyond climate talks, it is expected that COP28 will feature deliberations on geopolitical tensions involving conflicts like those between Russia and Ukraine, Israel and Hamas, and the U.S. and China conflicts.

The Israel-Hamas war in Gaza is to be especially considered – it will likely exacerbate the issues around climate finance. The US and a few European countries have opposed a U.N. General Assembly resolution calling for an ‘urgent, lasting, and consistent humanitarian ceasefire’ in Gaza.

#16.     The US and China struck a climate cooperation deal two weeks ahead of COP28.

The world’s biggest emitters of greenhouse gasses, The United States and China, released a joint statement on November 15, 2023. This unprecedented agreement states that they will support a new renewables target, displace fossil fuels, and work towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions and plastic pollution.

#17.     The US and China climate deal will likely trigger a chain reaction of similar actions to follow.

As the countdown to COP28 begins, this deal has set the stage for negotiations to come among other nations. China, known for its reluctance to tackle methane emissions, has agreed alongside the US to set reduction targets for carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and other greenhouse gasses. Decisive action is still outstanding on tapering off oil and gas operations and emissions.

#18.     Participating countries are urged to take part in the COP28 pledge.

Expediting the energy transition is on the mind of the president, Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, who has invited participating countries to join the COP28 pledge. This pledge seeks to triple global renewables capacity and double energy efficiency by 4% in 2023.

#19.     Study reveals that it would require centuries to sequester the carbon produced by COP28’s chief’s oil company.

The spotlight is on COP28’s president, Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber’s oil company that launched a campaign to promote a new carbon capture technology. The company touts that the tech has the capability to capture tonnes of carbon per year. However, deeper analysis into the company’s plan shows that it will take over three centuries to capture all of the carbon that the company will produce by 2030.

#20.     The awareness of climate change is on the rise across the African continent, beginning with its populace.

Reports from African outlets show a surge in citizens’ climate change awareness and action across various countries such as Kenya. It is expected that this development will translate to more diplomatic discussions on aggressive and progressive policies around climate mitigation, adaptation, and resilience throughout the continent.

#21.     Leaders will be put under a microscope to ensure that the resources used to prepare for and attend COP28 are well allocated.

Similarly to previous years, over 70,000 delegates from 198 countries will be attending COP28 in Dubai to achieve a central goal: shifting the world from deliberation to action to tackle climate change issues. There is a high level of expectation for effective appropriation of every penny spent and every kg of carbon dioxide (CO₂) emitted to convene in Dubai to achieve this goal.

#22.     Since the announcement of Dubai as the host for COP28, many climate and environmental justice activists, including Greta Thunsberg have expressed concerns over potential possibilities of oil lobbyists influencing the outcome of the deliberation and negotiations.

Thunberg’s criticism of COP28’s location starts with the conference’s chairman, who is head of one of the largest oil companies in the UAE. She referred to this decision as “completely ridiculous”. The outcomes of COP28 will face great scrutiny as the world is carefully watching to see how this will play out.

#23.     Similarly to historical COP summits, the UAE will accommodate the assembly and protests of climate activists at COP28 just as long as they are not disruptive.

This announcement was made as a joint statement with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in the weeks leading up to COP28. This provision will occur despite a ban on unauthorized protests in the Gulf state.

#24.     The previous conference, COP27 received significant acclaim for its achievement in formulating and setting in motion a new fund for addressing loss and damage.

COP28 is anticipated to fortify this agreement and build upon the successes attained thus far.

#25.     Over 350 cryosphere scientists have endorsed an open letter urging nations to pledge to the 1.5°C threshold during the COP28 summit.

They stress that the 1.5°C threshold is not merely a preference over 2°C or higher, but rather an acute necessity. The irreversible damage to the polar regions of the globe will have worldwide consequences if climate change issues are not addressed promptly.

#26.     The United States and United Kingdom are seeking to vastly increase global use of nuclear power at COP28.

Though controversy rages around nuclear power and technology, both the US and the UK plan to lead a campaign toward tripling nuclear power by 2050. This push echoes the recent support that nuclear power and technology have been receiving from various jurisdictions.

#27.     COP28 will address the skepticism surrounding carbon credits.

Carbon credits are market-based mechanisms aimed at reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that companies can allocate or purchase to represent a specific amount of emissions. Carbon credits have come under fire for fraud, market volatility, the impact on indigenous communities, questionable efficacy, transparency, and ethical issues. The complexity of carbon credits will be a key focus at COP28.

#28.     I will be attending COP28 and hosting a session under the theme “Just North and Beyond: A Pop-Up University Pavilion”. The pavilion is jointly hosted by Michigan Technological University, MTU -The Arctic University of Norway, and The University of Sussex-Business School. If you are attending COP28, please feel free to stop by the session for an interesting conversation on the clean energy transition in the Arctic region. 

Title: Achieving 100% Renewable and Self-Sufficient Electricity in Impoverished, Rural, Northern Climates

Date and Time: December 4, 2023 1–1:50 pm GST (or 4 – 4.50am EST)

Location: Thematic Arena One (Blue zone), Pavilion number TA1-130

Please reach out to us for remote access and/or more information.


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