COP28 Midpoint: Bold Declarations Clash with Slow Progress and Unresolved Issues

COP28| Climate action| Global transition

What to Expect from Week II:

  • After a week of negotiations at the UN Climate Summit COP28 in Dubai, despite a dynamic start marked by substantial declarations, little progress has been made, with minimal technical agreements achieved and numerous unresolved issues carrying over to week 2.
  • It is crucial for the Global Stocktake and the Mitigation Work Programme to align seamlessly and that key elements are included in final decisions. This includes addressing the energy package and executing a rapid and comprehensive phasing out of all fossil fuels to substantially reduce emissions by 2030.
  • A positive and historic milestone has been reached with the establishment of the Loss and Damage Fund, accompanied by initial financial pledges, including contributions from the UAE. However, significant gaps persist in replenishing the fund, requiring commitments from the EU and Member States to bridge the shortfall.

 

Dubai, 8 December 2023 – As the UN Climate Summit COP28 in Dubai enters its second week, the initial enthusiasm marked by bold declarations has yet to translate into significant progress in negotiations, leaving several critical issues unresolved. With only a few technical agreements in place, the stage is set for a demanding week 2. 

Challenges loom around the fossil fuel phase out, which should be seen as integral to a broader energy transformation, impacting the response to the first Global Stocktake and the effectiveness of the Mitigation Work Programme in addressing the significant emissions action gap needed to keep the 1.5 goal of the Paris Agreement alive.

While noteworthy strides have been taken with the establishment of a Loss and Damage Fund, significant gaps persist in sufficiently replenishing it, requiring substantial contributions from the EU.

Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe Director Chiara Martinelli said:

“While the first week of COP28 kicked off with substantial pledges that successfully got the Loss and Damage Fund up and running and declarations that brought attention to the need to accelerate the energy transition, the bitter end of the first week was underscored by a pushback against science, promotion of false solutions, a lack of finance, and an overwhelming presence of fossil fuel lobbyists.

As we step into the second and final week of COP28, our primary objective is crystal clear: bringing an end to the fossil fuel era once and for all, swiftly and fairly, aligning with the 1.5°C target while addressing the specific needs of developing countries. A holistic approach, covering Loss and Damage, adaptation, and energy transition financing, is essential for progress in the negotiations. We urge the EU to remain united, leveraging its position to build bridges with the most climate-vulnerable countries and not bargaining.”

Mitigation

Progress in mitigation efforts has been slow, primarily due to a deadlock over references in the Global Stocktake (GST) – our planet’s five-year health check. China, leading the group of the Like-Minded Group of Developing Countries (LMDCs), and Saudi Arabia, leading the Arab group have consistently advocated for non-prescriptive language, hindering substantive progress. It is crucial that the EU and other industrialised countries actively work towards a comprehensive package of technical and financial support to accelerate the energy transition in line with the 1.5-degree limit. Achieving at least 43% reductions in global emissions by 2030 and 60% by 2035 should be the benchmark.

Energy Package and Fossil Phase-out

The ongoing climate negotiations at COP28 may witness a fierce battle over language, carrying deep political implications. Key terms such as “phase out” versus “phase down” and the use of “abated” concerning fossil fuels could become the make-or-break factor for the necessary emissions downturn that the world so urgently needs. The so-called “energy package” seems to be turning into a menu as governments express their views around the table. This debate must not evolve into a “pick and choose” plan but rather signify a concrete step forward.

Energy efficiency, renewable energy, and fossil fuel phase-out are the three pillars of the needed energy transition and they must come as a package, with finance and support for renewable energy rollout and a just transition forming essential components. This COP must seal the deal on the energy transition and end the fossil fuel era once and for all despite the surge in accredited fossil fuel lobbyists hindering progress in the negotiations.

Loss and Damage

The establishment of the Loss and Damage Fund, coupled with initial pledges exceeding USD 700 million, including USD 300-400 million from the EU collectively, represents a positive step. However, this includes USD 100 million from the UAE, and contributions from developed countries remain modest, drawing largely from existing climate finance and development budgets which should be serving mitigation, adaptation and human development. Pressure needs to be sustained, particularly on the European Union and its Member States, to significantly enhance their contributions and provide new and additional pledges, in line with historical responsibility for loss and damage to ensure that the financial backing for the fund can make a dent in needs.

Climate Finance and Adaptation

While the first week of COP saw numerous pledges and financial commitments, many of these are not new and additional, potentially redirecting funds from climate finance elsewhere. There is very little reassurance regarding the core annual climate finance obligation of USD 100 billion, and little to no reassurance has been offered to scale up adaptation finance to balance mitigation and adaptation finance. While a few developed countries have made new pledges to the Adaptation Fund of $160 million, this amount needs doubling in order to move forward on the Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA). Notably, some European countries, including the UK, Italy, and France, have pledged very low figures. The EU and other developed countries need to step up.

 


For media: If you have an interview request, question or you would like to be added to the CAN Europe COP28 media list, please get in touch at communications@caneurope.org.

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