Three key issues that will shape COP28 outcome in Dubai

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Starting today, over 70,000 delegates globally are expected to converge on the Dubai Expo City in the United Arab Emirates for the 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) this year.

The summit, billed to run between November 30 and December 12, is aimed at advancing the implementation of the Paris Agreement and ramping up action towards keeping global temperature well below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Following a year of unprecedented heat, flooding and drought, this year’s summit is expected to bring to the front burner some key contentious set of issues for parties working and seeking to find a common ground to reversing climate crises in their countries and the world.

“We are in a decisive decade for climate action. The latest science from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change indicates that greenhouse gas emissions need to be cut 43 per cent by 2030, compared to 2019 levels,” says the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

This, the UNFCCC said, is critical to limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of this century and avoid the worst impacts of climate change, including more frequent and severe droughts, heatwaves and rainfall.

“COP 28 is an opportunity to identify global solutions for limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees, inform countries’ preparations for revised and more ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions (national climate plans) due by 2025, accelerate the green transition that is already happening and ultimately achieve the delivery of the Paris Agreement goals,” the organisers said.

In the face of these, the key issues that will feature in the two-week COP28 negotiations starting today (Thursday) in Dubai include the Global Stocktake, Operationalisation of the Loss and Damage fund, a just energy transition and climate finance, among others.

Assessment of climate progress

This year’s summit is expected to conclude the first-ever global stocktake. According to the UNFCCC, 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.

“We know we are not on track to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The window for meaningful change is closing, and the time to act is now,” the UNFCCC said.

It said governments will take a decision on the global stocktake at COP28, which can be leveraged to accelerate ambition in their next round of climate action plans due in 2025.

“COP 28 must be a ‘can-do COP’ where countries show how these tools will be put to work in the crucial next two years, to urgently pick up the pace,” the UNFCCC noted.

Operationalisation of loss and damage fund

With climate finance also on the front burner of the meeting agenda, countries will also be calling for the operationalisation of the loss and damage fund deal reached at the last COP27 in Egypt.

The establishment of a Loss and Damage Fund at COP27 in Egypt last year was one of the laudable outcomes reached by parties.

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According to the UN remarks, ‘loss and damage’ is referred to as the consequences of climate impacts that are separate from adaptation and mitigation measures. ‘Loss’ refers to things that cannot be retrieved, including lives, damage to biodiversity, disrupted education or forced displacement from ancestral homes.

On the other hand, ‘Damage’ denotes items that can be recovered or repaired, such as infrastructure, housing, agricultural land, crops and livestock.

In Nigeria, loss and damage incurred due to flooding and other extreme weather events have threatened the existence of several communities in the country and also across Africa. Delegations of vulnerable countries are keen to see agreement on the operationalisation of the fund at this year’s summit.

Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates’ COP28 presidency published a proposal on the eve of the summit for countries to adopt a new UN climate damage fund.

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This has further raised hopes among some delegates that this could be among the first deals to be struck in Dubai.

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Energy transition and climate financing

Also at the heart of this year’s COP conversation would be the need to upscale energy transition efforts and sustainable climate financing for vulnerable countries.

Building on outcomes of previous COPs, countries will also look to progress on other critical issues such as the clean energy transition and climate finance.

“We need to reduce the gap between ambition and action. Those who promised, must deliver. Those who pledged, must act.” says COP28 President Sultan Al Jaber.

On his part, the UN Climate Change Executive Secretary, Simon Stiell, said replenishing the Green Climate Fund, doubling financial resources for adaptation and operationalising the loss and damage fund is key to keeping 1.5°C within reach while leaving no one behind.

_This story was published with the support of Climate Tracker’s COP28 Climate Justice Reporting Fellowship_

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