In preparation for the upcoming U.N. climate change conference summit, COP28 UAE President Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber called for greater transparency among countries amid gaps in achieving climate change targets.
Al Jaber urged governments to revise their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) targets before September 2023, ahead of the 2025 deadline. He met with climate ministers and officials from countries including Brazil, China, the United States and European Union members.
“We must be brutally honest about the gaps that need to be filled, the root causes and how we got to this place here today,” Al Jaber stated during the meeting held in Brussels. Moreover, he stressed the importance of a comprehensive and action-oriented response to bridge these gaps practically.
COP28 UAE challenge
Current policies and pledges fall short of meeting this goal. Therefore, the Global Stocktake at COP28 UAE will intensify pressure on major emitters to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Meanwhile, Steven Guilbeault, Canadian climate minister, emphasized the significance of accountability. He said, “We can’t afford a meaningless stocktake. This is about the accountability of our previous, present, and future updates.”
To expedite progress, Al Jaber urged all governments to update their emissions-cutting targets by September, following the UAE’s example recently.
However, UN climate negotiations in June faced challenges. Participating countries wrangled over urgent CO2-cutting actions and other key issues.
The 1.5C goal
The Paris Agreement recognized the need to limit global temperature rise to below 2C. However, COP26 shifted to a more ambitious 1.5C target due to the severe consequences associated with a 2C increase.
This decision reflects a commitment to prioritize the mitigation of climate change impacts. It also underscored the urgency of taking immediate action to achieve this target.
The issue of whether to phase-out or phase-down fossil fuels is an ongoing debate within climate change discussions. Al Jaber emphasized the need to “phase down”, saying it is key to transitioning to a low-carbon economy.
This approach acknowledges the challenges associated with an immediate and complete phase-out. Existing infrastructure and many countries remain dependent on this energy source.
However, some stakeholders advocate for a complete phase-out because the urgency of the climate crisis necessitates immediate and radical action. They say a complete phase-out is essential to effectively mitigate climate change.
Al Jaber called for a comprehensive transformation of international finance institutions like the World Bank and urged the involvement of private sector funding.
He emphasized the importance of fulfilling the longstanding commitment by rich countries to provide $100 bn per year to support poorer nations, a commitment that was supposed to be met by 2020 but remains unfulfilled.
Additionally, he echoed the call made by UN Secretary-General António Guterres for a doubling of financial support to help developing countries adapt to the impacts of climate change.
During COP27, nations agreed to establish a fund to address loss and damage, to help countries severely affected by the most severe consequences of the climate crisis.
Al Jaber stressed the urgent need to reach an agreement on how to fill this fund during COP28, with the goal of disbursing the first financial assistance soon after.
These efforts underscore the critical importance of mobilizing adequate and accessible climate finance to support developing nations in their climate mitigation and adaptation efforts.
The June United Nations climate negotiations saw limited progress as countries engaged in prolonged discussions, including whether urgent CO2 reduction actions should be addressed, referred to as the “mitigation work program” in UN terminology.
At the previous year’s UN climate talks, countries agreed to create a “loss and damage” fund, but the most challenging decisions, such as identifying contributing nations, were postponed for future discussions.
Finance has become a major focal point in recent climate negotiations as developing nations demand increased support for investing in low-carbon energy and managing the escalating costs associated with droughts, floods, and sea-level rise.
Al Jaber called for a transformative overhaul of international financial institutions to mobilize greater capital for addressing climate change, aligning with proposals like the Barbados-led “Bridgetown Initiative” that advocates for reforming multilateral finance institutions to support climate-vulnerable nations.
For more sustainability stories, click here.