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What Are Our Expectations for COP28?
Science & Health

What Are Our Expectations for COP28?

Experts predict that discussions on the gradual elimination of fossil fuels and the establishment of a climate compensation fund for developing countries will be the main focus of the upcoming U.N. Climate Change Conference, also known as COP28, in Dubai, UAE.

In September, the first Global Stocktake report was released. This report, which will occur every five years, aims to assess the world’s advancement in achieving the objectives of the 2015 Paris Agreement and suggest measures to address any deficiencies.

The findings of the report are concerning: Nations are falling short of meeting the targets set by the Paris Agreement, and the time frame to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celcius above pre-industrial levels is quickly closing. In order to achieve this goal, countries must significantly reduce worldwide greenhouse gas emissions by 43% by 2030 and 60% by 2035, compared to levels in 2019.

Niklas Hohne, creator of NewClimate Institute and former member of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change secretariat, stated that climate change poses an existential risk.

“The increase in temperature alone is not the sole factor driving human migration. What motivates people to move is the realization that we have the ability to do so, and that this is indeed the reality. It is not a hopeless situation,” he stated in a video call with VOA.

Should we eliminate or reduce gradually?

Different nations have conflicting opinions on the pace at which we should decrease our reliance on fossil fuels. During the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP27) held in Egypt in the previous year, certain countries advocated for a complete elimination of fossil fuels, but were dissatisfied with the final decision that only called for a gradual reduction.

Hohne proposed two potential outcomes for COP28: one where the language regarding phasing down remains largely unchanged from COP27, and another where negotiators reach a consensus on phasing out “unabated fossil fuels” – referring to fuels whose emissions are released into the atmosphere without being captured.

According to Reuters, the European Union, United States, and United Arab Emirates are advocating for a worldwide agreement at COP28 to increase renewable energy by three times by 2030.

According to Shafqat Kakakhel, the chairperson of Pakistan’s Sustainable Development Policy Institute and former climate negotiator, in order for the effort to be successful, more countries must be convinced to join. Work will need to be done to achieve this.

Fund for Loss and Damage

Kakakhel stated that although it is crucial to make efforts to reduce the pace of climate change, known as “mitigation,” it is equally important to focus on preparing societies for the impacts of rising temperatures, known as “adaptation.”

He stated that developed countries prioritize mitigation, while developing countries are focused on adaptation. They hope for a fair distribution of resources from the Green Climate Fund, with a better balance between mitigation and adaptation.

During the 27th Conference of Parties (COP27), a fund for Loss and Damage was created to assist developing nations in dealing with the impacts of climate change. This was the result of a challenging effort led by Pakistan, which had experienced severe flooding that affected a third of its territory.

FILE - Saito Ene Ruka, right, who lost 100 cows to drought, and neighbor Kesoi Ole Tingoe walk past carcasses in Ilangeruani, Kenya, on Nov. 9, 2022. A fund to be discussed at the COP28 conference is intended to help developing countries cope with the effects of climate change.

FILE – Saito Ene Ruka, right, who lost 100 cows to drought, and neighbor Kesoi Ole Tingoe walk past carcasses in Ilangeruani, Kenya, on Nov. 9, 2022. A fund to be discussed at the COP28 conference is intended to help developing countries cope with the effects of climate change.

The fund is meant to supplement the Green Climate Fund — a previous commitment by the developing countries that historically emit the most greenhouse gases to generate $100 billion a year after 2020 for mitigation and adaptation in less-developed countries. Those contributions have consistently fallen short, however, totaling $83.3 billion in 2020.

Kakakhel stated that the U.S. led the effort for the World Bank to manage the fund, but developing nations prefer for the management to be independent.

The second concern is about finances: Where will the funding originate from and how much will be allocated? He inquired, “Global South countries argue that the government should provide the funds, but developed countries like the U.S. suggest that charities should also be able to contribute. However, developing countries view this as a matter of climate justice.”

The discussions on who will contribute and oversee the fund are ongoing and will be carried over to COP28.

Geopolitical tensions

Kakakhel expressed concern that the Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza may worsen the already tense negotiations on climate finance. This comes after the U.S. and certain European nations voted against a U.N. General Assembly resolution calling for an immediate and lasting ceasefire in Gaza to address humanitarian needs.

According to Kakakhel, developing countries have observed a lack of adherence to global principles and norms by developed nations. This may create a belief that developed nations will show less dedication to actions beneficial for the entire world.

Hohne concurred that conflicts in the region could divert attention from countries’ efforts to address climate change during negotiations.

Health impacts

The upcoming Dubai conference will make history by allocating a day specifically for addressing the relationship between climate change and health, as well as recovery strategies.

Hohne stated that he does not believe countries will make definitive promises due to the overwhelming complexity of the climate crisis. However, he believes that establishing a connection between health and climate would be highly beneficial.

During a World Health Summit in Berlin in October, a Declaration on Climate and Health was introduced with support from COP28 President Sultan Al Jaber. The endorsements for this declaration will be revealed at COP28.

According to a statement released to the press, the agreement encompasses various aspects such as working together across industries to address climate and health concerns, decreasing emissions within the healthcare sector, and allocating more funding towards addressing climate and health issues.

This report was created with assistance from a fellowship focused on Climate Justice Journalism provided by Climate Tracker.