Dr Sultan Al Jaber of  UAE — President of COP28
Dr Sultan Al Jaber of UAE — President of COP28

COP28 underway in Dubai with calls for action against climate crisis

The United Nations Climate Change Conference COP28 opened in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), from November 30 to December 12, 2023 with a resounding call to accelerate collective climate action.

 The two-week conference is taking place at a time that is already known to be the hottest year ever recorded in human history, and as the impacts of the climate crisis wreak unprecedented havoc on human life and livelihoods around the world.

COP28 stands for the 28th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). COPs take place every year and with 198 Parties, the UNFCCC has near universal membership and is the parent treaty of the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement.

The main aim of the Paris Agreement is to keep a global average temperature rise this century well below two degrees Celsius and to drive efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

The UNFCCC is also the parent treaty of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The ultimate objective of all agreements under the UNFCCC is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system, in a time frame which allows ecosystems to adapt naturally and enables sustainable development.

The UAE which has the Presidency for COP28, with Dr Sultan Al Jaber as this year’s president. The conference aims to address the climate crisis by agreeing on ways to limit temperature rise to 1.5°C and achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. 

Large number of delegates

Over 70,000 delegates, including member states, business leaders, young people, climate scientists, indigenous people, journalists and various other experts and stakeholders are attending the summit. With countries hoping to agree on new ways to keep the planet from heating too much by the end of the century. Distractions abound, most notably the war between Israel and Hamas.

At this year's UN climate summit, countries, development institutions and businesses are pledging more money for everything from the energy transition to health care initiatives, technology investments, disaster relief and more.

At the official opening of COP28 on November 30, nations finalised the creation of a fund to compensate developing nations hit by climate change disasters like deadly floods, heat and droughts.

Creation of a fund

Nearly all the nations of the world last Thursday finalised the creation of a fund to help compensate countries struggling to cope with loss and damage caused by climate change and this was seen as a major first-day breakthrough at this year’s UN climate conference. Some countries immediately started putting in money, if little, compared to the overall anticipated needs.

The President of the COP28 climate conference in Dubai, Sultan Al-Jaber, welcomed “the first decision to be adopted on day one of any COP” and announced that  his country, the United Arab Emirates, would chip in $100 million to the fund. Other countries stepped up with big-ticket commitments, including Germany, also at $100 million.

Developing nations

Developing nations had long sought to address the problem of inadequate funding for responding to climate disasters caused by climate change, which hit them especially hard, and for which they have little responsibility, industrialised countries have spewed carbon emissions that are trapping heat in the atmosphere.

But many details of the “loss and damage funds” were left unresolved, such as how large it would be, who would administer it, and more.

A recent report by the United Nations estimates that up to $387 billion will be needed annually if developing countries are to adapt to climate-driven changes. while some activists and experts are skeptical that the fund will raise anything close to that amount.

A Green Climate Fund that was first proposed at the 2009 climate talks in Copenhagen, and began raising money in 2014, hasn’t come close to its goal of $100 billion annually.

The fund will be hosted by the World Bank for the next four years and the plan is to launch it by 2024. A developing country representative will get a seat on its board.

A number of industrialised nations have insisted that all countries should contribute to the fund, and the agreement will prioritise those most vulnerable to climate change even though any climate-affected community or country is eligible.

Climate Finance pledges

According to the United Arab Emirates, hosts of the conference, more than $83 billion had been mobilised during the first five days of the event with the biggest single deal of COP28 which saw hosts pledging $30 billion to a new fund to invest in climate friendly projects across the globe, with $5 billion for the Global South.

The World Bank said it aimed to increase climate funding to 45 per cent of its total lending, which equated to an increase of $9 billion annually while the Development Bank of Latin America and the Caribbean (CAF) said it would invest more than $2 billion annually until 2030 in Latin America to fight climate change.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) said it would allocate $10 billion for climate investment in the Philippines between 2024 and 2029 while Japan and France said they would back a plan by the African Development Bank and Inter-American Development Bank to leverage IMF Special Drawing Rights for climate and development.

UAE banks pledged to mobilise 1 trillion dirhams, or around $270 billion, in green finance. Charitable donors including the Bezos Earth Fund joined forces with the World Bank's private investment arm in a climate financing venture to try to generate $11 billion in investments in developing countries.

Among countries to contribute were Italy with 100 million euros and the Netherlands with 15 million euros, with at least $51 million from Britain, $17.5 million from the United States, and $10 million from Japan. Later, the European Union pledged $245.39 million, which included $100 million pledged by Germany.

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