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Following the initial progress, discussions at COP28 about climate change have reached a stalemate between optimism and challenges.
Science & Health

Following the initial progress, discussions at COP28 about climate change have reached a stalemate between optimism and challenges.

Following a swift and productive start on the first day, negotiators at a vital United Nations climate conference concluded their first week on Wednesday in a more conventional position: a hazy area where progress and obstacles coexist.

German climate envoy Jennifer Morgan stated that the current negotiations are a complex situation with varying outcomes. She acknowledged that there are significant disparities among different states in certain aspects, but there is a shared determination to move forward.

John Kerry, the U.S. Special Envoy, stated that significant progress had been made in the first week and tangible achievements were made.

U.S. Special Envoy John Kerry speaks at a news conference at the COP28 summit on Dec. 6, 2023, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. He said, "We’ve accomplished real things" in the first week of the climate conference.

John Kerry, the U.S. Special Envoy, addressed the media at the COP28 summit in Dubai, United Arab Emirates on December 6, 2023. He stated that “We have made tangible achievements” during the initial week of the climate conference.

Supporters pushing for a significant decrease in the use of non-renewable energy sources like oil, gas, and coal are feeling optimistic for the first time in a while. However, they are also aware that their goals could be derailed. Officials stated that critical matters such as providing financial aid to developing countries to reduce their carbon emissions and finding ways to cope with global warming still require a lot of attention and effort.

On the initial day of the COP28 conference, a climate compensation fund was established and its funds began to exceed $720 million. This stands in stark contrast to the current situation.

On Wednesday, Simon Stiell, the Secretary for Climate in the United Nations, cautioned against simply checking a box and considering it a victory in solving the complex issue of providing financial aid to reduce global emissions, which requires trillions of dollars.

According to Stiell, we require the collaboration of COP to provide a high-speed bullet train to accelerate efforts towards addressing climate change. As of now, we only have an outdated and unreliable train slowly making its way on unstable tracks.

Adnan Amin, the second ranking member of the COP and an experienced diplomat for the United Nations, expressed a slightly more positive outlook, acknowledging that all negotiations have their highs and lows. He noted that this particular one is currently in a state of “buzz” and remains optimistic.

Conversations have revolved around the Global Stocktake, which assesses the progress of countries in reaching their climate objectives to limit temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) from pre-industrial levels and strategies for achieving these goals. On Tuesday, negotiators presented a revised version of the document, but with its 24 pages containing numerous options, it did not provide a clear indication of what will be decided by the end of next week’s session.

Amin stated that representatives from 197 nations are carefully examining the document line by line to determine what they can agree to and what they cannot. He acknowledged that there are numerous requests and requirements, but believes that the document lays a strong foundation for progress.

Cedric Schuster, the leader of the Association of Small Island States, expressed concern that not meeting the Global Stocktake goal would make it harder to reach the 1.5 C limit at this COP. He urged major polluters and developed nations to take charge and increase their efforts to eliminate fossil fuels.

He stated that if we are unsuccessful, the results will be disastrous.

The U.N. representatives have expressed concerns about financial matters and adapting to climate change, but the attendees at the Dubai conference are primarily concerned with discussing solutions to the use of fossil fuels. The burning of coal, oil, and natural gas is the primary contributor to climate change. For the first time in almost thirty years of discussions, the possibility of eliminating all three fuels is being seriously considered.

Environmental activist Romain Ioualalen from Oil Change International stated that although it is a significant milestone to have discussed options for phasing out fossil fuels in the text, it is not sufficient. He highlighted the fact that 106 countries have signed a document advocating for a phase-out, which was also mentioned by multiple world leaders during their speeches in the initial days.

Ioualalen stated that just three COPs ago, it would have been unimaginable to have discussions about completely eliminating the use of fossil fuels. However, there is now a growing momentum in these conversations, despite expected opposition. This is the challenge that we must overcome.

He stated that we are definitely getting closer to reaching an agreement.