Environmental activists say there’s no doubt anymore that urgent collective action is needed to preserve a livable planet. As the COP28 United Nations climate talks begin in Dubai on Thursday, here are five things to watch out for.
1. The energy transition
At COP26 in Glasgow, in 2021, countries agreed to a “phasedown” of “unabated coal power.” Since then, momentum has been building among governments and activists to extend similar ideas to oil and gas, though the exact phrasing will have to be hammered out.
Ideally, the commitments should come in the form of an official response to the “Global Stocktake,” a damning report card published in September that highlighted how little the world has done to confront the crisis.
2. Making ‘loss and damage’ a reality
A fragile agreement was reached in early November, and COP28 president Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber told the AFP news agency in a recent interview he hoped a decision would be adopted early on in the conference.
3. The climate financing gap
In 2009, richer countries promised to reach $US100 billion ($151 billion) annually in funding for these priorities by 2020 – a goal finally met last year, according to an OECD report earlier this month.
It could also provide an opportunity to better define and operationalise clause 2.1(c) of the Paris agreement, which called for “making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and climate-resilient development.”
4 and 5. Methane and food systems
China, the United States and the UAE are set to jointly hold a methane and non-CO2 greenhouse gasses summit at the talks, where there might be a strengthening of a 2021 “Global Methane Pledge” to reduce emissions by 30 percent by 2030.
COP28 will also be the first such conference to have a major focus on food systems, responsible for a third of manmade greenhouse gasses, with severe weather and droughts also in turn threatening food production and transport.
Around 70 percent of the world’s people are expected to call cities home by the year 2050, and increasing their participation in the climate fight is seen as vital, especially when national governments stall progress.