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Key issues on the COP28 negotiating table


COP28 is taking place from November 30 to December 12 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, with more than 70,000 delegates expected to attend the conference from around the world.

This year’s conference signifies the midpoint between the signing of the Paris Agreement, a legally binding international treaty on climate change adopted at COP21 in 2015, and the target year of 2030.

Taking into account countries’ carbon-cutting plans, the United Nations Environment Programme warned on November 20 that the planet is on track for disastrous heating of between 2.5 degrees Celsius and 2.9 degrees Celsius by 2100, far beyond the Paris Agreement’s goal of keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

This year, countries will review their compliance and make stronger commitments on key climate change issues, including the energy transition and climate finance. In this article, we explore the key issues that will be discussed at COP28.

The first global stocktake

COP28 is placing particular emphasis on prioritizing the world’s first global stocktake on climate change, assessing the world’s collective progress toward addressing the climate crisis every five years.

Released in September, the global stocktake synthesis report reveals that the world is far off track from its goal of holding global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius to avoid some of the most disastrous impacts of climate change. 

Countries will discuss the results of the global stocktake and identify what’s needed next. 

The most important issue to watch at COP28 is what new plans and stronger commitments, such as emissions-reduction plans, climate finance commitments and renewable energy targets, leaders will carry out to address action gaps.

Energy transition

Fossil fuels have always been a bone of contention at every climate conference, with debate raging over whether to use the term “phase down” or “phase out.”

At COP28, nations will attempt to agree to cut fossil fuel use and accelerate the energy transition.

The International Energy Agency has indicated that the world must triple its renewable energy capacity and double the rate of energy efficiency improvements by 2030. Led by the United States, the EU, and the UAE, more than 60 countries now back a commitment to triple renewable energy and double energy efficiency at COP 28. 

“Tripling renewable energy capacity by 2030, mentioned both at the G20 Summit and in the ‘The Sunnylands Statement on Enhancing Cooperation to Address the Climate Crisis’ released by China and the U.S., will undoubtedly be the focus of COP28,” said Yuan Ying, Greenpeace’s chief China representative.

Loss and damage fund providers and receivers

At COP27 last year in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, an agreement to establish a “loss and damage” fund was hailed as a major breakthrough on one of the trickiest topics in the global climate negotiations.

Loss and damage refers to the negative consequences that arise from the unavoidable risks of climate change, like rising sea levels, prolonged heat waves, desertification and extreme events such as bushfires, species extinction and crop failures. The fund aims to provide financial assistance to nations most vulnerable to and impacted by the effects of climate change.

At COP28, questions of who will pay, how much, who will be eligible to receive funding and on what grounds will be expected to be answered.

Definition and implementation of Global Goal on Adaptation

A staggering 3.6 billion people, nearly half of the global population, are currently highly vulnerable to climate change impacts, according to the World Health Organization. And the number will only continue to rise as long as global temperatures keep climbing.

While the world must act swiftly to mitigate climate change, this alone won’t be enough to protect the people already affected by it. There is also an urgent need to scale up climate adaptation efforts, which refer to adjustments in ecological, social or economic systems in response to the current and projected impacts of climate change. 

The Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA), which was established under the Paris Agreement in 2015, aims to enhance climate change adaptation by increasing awareness of and funding towards countries’ adaptation needs. 

However, little progress has been made on defining the GGA targets since adaptation actions are hyper-local and context-specific. Also, negotiators have struggled to reach agreement on key political issues, for example, who should pay for adaptation action in developing countries.

After years of slow progress, countries agreed at COP26 in 2021 to establish and launch a two-year initiative to further define the GGA, called the Glasgow-Sharm el-Sheikh work program (GlaSS). The GlaSS program is expected to conclude at COP28 with an annual report. Before it can be considered complete, there is a pressing need for countries to resolve challenges and adopt a final, ambitious GGA framework.

(If you have specific expertise and want to contribute, or if you have a topic of interest that you’d like to share with us, please email us at nature@cgtn.com.)



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