COP28 Outcomes

In January 2021, President Biden rejoined the Paris Agreement on Climate Change after former President Donald Trump ordered a cessation of U.S. participation in the Agreement on June 1, 2017. Image courtesy of The Commons
In January 2021, President Biden rejoined the Paris Agreement on Climate Change after former President Donald Trump ordered a cessation of U.S. participation in the Agreement on June 1, 2017. Image courtesy of The Commons

The United Nations hosts an international conference called the Conference of the Parties (COP) to debate the steps that must be taken to combat climate change. Government representatives from all over the world gather at these conferences to exchange experiences, discuss the most recent advancements in the fight against climate change and work toward creating agreements and policies to address climate change.

Every year, governments from various nations host COP, where they discuss policy progress reports, set interim goals, and agree to share scientific and technological advancements that benefit the world.

The legally binding Paris Accords were ratified by 196 parties/countries during the Paris Climate Change Conference of the United Nations in 2015, and it became operational on Nov. 4, 2016. Its main objective is to keep the temperature increase to 1.5°C (2.7°F) by the end of this century.

For the first time, a legally enforceable commitment unites all nations to fight climate change and adapt to its repercussions, making the Paris Agreement a significant milestone in the multilateral climate change process.

In addition to severe climate change effects, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns that exceeding the 1.5°C (2.7°F) threshold might lead to more frequent and severe heat waves, droughts and rainfall.

Furthermore, COP has become a platform for intergovernmental negotiations and non-state actors’ advocacy, networking, partnership building and showcasing significant efforts worldwide—outside the government spheres in addition to young activists, scientists, faith groups and various organizations, including UN agencies.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) hosted COP28, which took place Nov. 30–Dec. 12, 2023. The conference ended with major commitments from the international community to address the problems caused by climate change.

The headline from the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Secretariat is that the COP28 Agreement signals the “Beginning of the End of the Fossil Fuel Era.”

The United Nations said that more than 70,000 people from more than 190 countries participated in COP28. In addition to government officials, the conference hosts a variety of stakeholders, including leaders from the private sector, academic institutions and nongovernmental organizations.

COP28 shows the increasing presence of business leaders, demonstrating the growing corporate interest in climate issues. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate Change John Kerry led the U.S. delegation. Vice President Kamala Harris attended COP28 on Dec. 1–2.

It was the second year in a row that leaders from the Department of Defense (DOD) were among the U.S. delegation, highlighting the DOD’s pivotal role in the U.S. whole-of-government approach to addressing the climate crisis. Leading Pentagon representatives at COP28 highlighted the DOD’s worldwide leadership in mitigating climate change’s effects on resilience, stability and peace.

Moreover, U.S. Vice President Harris declared that “global efforts to halt rising temperatures are in danger and have to accelerate, and more has to be done. And the headwinds are only getting stronger.”

“Continued progress will not be possible without a fight,” she told the gathering.

“Around the world, some seek to slow or stop our progress. Leaders who deny climate science delay climate action and spread misinformation. Corporations that greenwash their climate inaction and lobby for billions of dollars in fossil fuel subsidies.”

Her remarks challenged leaders to work together and increase funding to maintain the target of keeping global warming to 1.5°C (2.7°F).

So far, the planet has warmed about 1.3 degrees since pre-industrial times.

“Our action collectively, or worse, our inaction, will have a decades-long effect on billions of people,” Harris said. She was the highest-ranking representative of the Biden administration at the COP28 negotiations.

A record-breaking $3 billion promise for the so-called Green Climate Fund, which aims to assist nations by cutting emissions and adapting to climate change, was among the new climate measures unveiled by Harris.

In addition, the COP Presidencies Troika was introduced at COP28 “in partnership with the COP29 and COP30 Presidencies—a new initiative aimed at bolstering global climate efforts, a groundbreaking initiative to support countries in meeting the Paris Climate Agreement goal to limit global warming to 1.5°C (2.7°F) above pre-industrial levels.

COP28 was historic in many ways as the participants reached a consensus to shift away from fossil fuels for the first time, and it increased funding for renewable energy sources. Moreover, financing for clean cooking rose. The final agreement recognized the need for more steps to protect the environment and ecosystems.

The inaugural five-year Global Stocktake was revealed at COP28. Its goal is to confirm whether the Paris Agreement’s long-term goals are being met globally. In addition, it helps stakeholders understand the difference between what they ought to be doing and what they can accomplish.

The Loss and Damage Fund received $725 million to start supporting the countries most affected by the climate crisis. Adaptation was also recognized in a redesigned Global Goal on Adaptation framework.

There was a lot of discussion on food, agriculture and climate change. In an indication of the need for global reform in our food system, 134 countries signed the Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems and Climate Action.

During COP28, the Global Status of Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems report was released, providing an opportunity for early warning systems to be highlighted. It also examined the progress of the Early Warning for All initiative and showed that faster action is needed to accomplish its objectives.

During the main negotiations at COP28, the Voluntary Carbon Market (VCM) was a topic of intense discussion. The VCM enables companies and organizations to take accountability for emissions they cannot prevent.

As per the agreements made at COP28, all stakeholders, including governments, corporations, organizations and individuals from across the globe, are advised to head back home and start formulating plans to decrease their dependency on fossil fuels. It was decided that this must happen “for real” fairly and justly soon.

With the approval of a new climate finance goal, the New Collective Qualitative Goal, the COP28 conclusion resolved most financial difficulties. This new objective will replace developed countries’ 2009 commitment to give developing countries $100 billion in climate funding annually.

Instead of working through potential solutions for components like its timeline, transparency procedures, sources and structure, the negotiators in Dubai provided further clarification on the procedure for establishing a new objective.

Also, the Declaration for Education and Climate Change, which is being led by the global initiative Greening Education Partnership of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, reiterates the significance of improving “climate change education to support transitions to low-carbon and climate-resilient economies and societies.”

The Declaration seeks to further global efforts to build climate-smart education systems through the four pillars of action of the Greening Education Partnership (Greening schools, Greening curriculum, Greening teacher training and education system capacity, and Greening communities) and involves pledges to

  • Emphasize the role of education in supporting all learners in developing adequate knowledge, skills, values and attitudes to adapt to new climate realities and create innovative solutions for a sustainable future.
  • Develop comprehensive education sector strategies to build climate-smart and resilient education systems.

Conclusion 

The world came together for the first time to formally agree to switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources quickly, while agricultural systems received unprecedented attention in the fight against climate change. The focus now shifts to the following crucial duties: translating the objectives from COP28 into national action and ensuring the funding is available to carry them out. We cannot afford to undervalue the countries and populations most vulnerable to climate change.

As the history of the environmental movement demonstrates, it has been incredibly challenging to even get to a global consensus on the need to stop burning fossil fuels. However, the moment has come to put this consciousness into action.

We sincerely hope the international community will deliver on the funding, cooperation, political will and education required to quickly bring about these constructive reforms.

This agreement to phase out fossil fuels from energy systems is a historic accomplishment. However, new technology, capital, power and business interests are needed to accomplish an energy transition.

Author

  • Debay Tadesse

    Debay Tadesse, Ph.D., graduated with a B.A. in world history from Georgia State University and an M.A. in African history and a Ph.D. in African studies with a focus on public policy and development from Howard University. He is currently a lecturer at Fresno City College and Fresno State.

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Homer
Homer
27 days ago

An excellent essay.

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