UAE - Three months from now, the UAE will host COP28 or the 28th meeting of the Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) from November 30 to December 12 at Expo City Dubai.

COP28 UAE is hailed as a milestone moment when the world will take stock of its progress on the Paris Agreement that set the goal to keep the rise in mean global temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and preferably limit the increase to 1.5°C to substantially reduce the effects of climate change.

The upcoming climate conference in Dubai will provide a comprehensive assessment of the global progress since adopting the Paris Agreement on April 22, 2016. It will also provide measures that are needed to be put in place to bridge the gaps in addressing climate change.

What is COP28?

Climate change is real and this has been proven last month, when the world recorded its hottest month. The typical temperature last month was almost a full degree higher than the average for July in a decade from 1991 to 2020.

Last month was also marked by devastating wildfires and debilitating heatwaves across US and Europe, while torrential rains and flash floods hit China and many parts in the Asian and Scandinavian regions.

What must be done at COP28?

“Now, more than ever, unity is a prerequisite for success. Globally, the world has experienced its hottest summer on record, climate change continues to impact people every day, particularly the climate vulnerable, and they are looking to us to take decisive action. The signal we send for the conclusion of the first ever Global Stocktake at COP28 will be crucial,” said COP28 president-designate Dr. Sultan bin Ahmed Al Jaber and UNCC executive secretary Simon Stiell in a joint statement.

The global stocktake is the pledge taken by world governments to limit temperature rises to 1.5°C on pre-industrial levels under the 2015 Paris Agreement during COP21.

What is the focus of COP28?

COP28 UAE will focus on fast-tracking a just, orderly and equitable energy transition; fixing climate finance; putting nature, lives and livelihoods at the heart of climate action; and mobilising for the most inclusive COP.

For the first time at a UNCC forum, COP28 will dedicate a day to health, relief, recovery, and peace, with a high level climate health ministerial, among other thematic activities.

COP28 will also be the first to focus on the role of trade in tandem with finance and it will be the COP that brings leaders together from across all levels of government and society — from the local mayors to global leaders — to work towards cleaner, greener, safer cities for current and future generations.

There will be thematic days throughout COP28 which will focus on an inclusive approach prioritising frontline communities and how finance, technology and innovation can drive solutions.

The UAE, for its part, has raised its own target of cutting emissions from 31 per cent to 40 per cent this decade. Other countries are expected to submit their revised pledges or “nationally determined contributions” next month.

Why is COP28 putting strong pressure on G20 countries?

The role of G20 (an intergovernmental forum comprising 19 countries and the European Union) cannot be understated. It is responsible for 85 per cent of the world’s gross domestic product, but also 80 per cent of the world’s emissions.

Al Jaber and Stiell noted, “Leadership by the G20 is indispensable to enable an inclusive and ambitious development agenda that demonstrates to the world that the transformation towards a net-zero and climate resilient world comes with great benefits for growth, poverty eradication and sustainable development.”

G20 also has the primordial role in scaling up climate finance not only to deliver on energy transition but more importantly to help smaller countries that are most vulnerable to climate change. This is why ‘climate finance’ is one of the four pillars of COP28 UAE, alongside full inclusivity, focus on people, and fast-tracking the energy transition.

What is the critical role of fixing climate finance?

During COP15 in 2009, developed countries committed to a collective goal of mobilising $100 billion per year by 2020 to financially support developing countries cut their emissions and adapt to climate impacts.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has been measuring progress towards this goal and reported in 2020 that rich nations mobilised only $83.3 billion of climate finance, $16.7 billion short of the goal.

This is why in his recent visit to the Caribbean — a region on the front lines of climate change — Al Jaber said, “I have called on donor countries to ‘show me the money’, when it comes to the long overdue $100 billion finance pledge.”

COP28 UAE is working with IFIs (International Financial Institutions) and MDBs (Multilateral Development Banks) such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and the G20 to draw up plans to deliver more funding to combat climate change.

What UAE residents can do?

The UAE is the perfect host for the upcoming COP28 as the country is home to around 200 nationalities. We can do our part by writing to and engaging with various heads of state and world leaders who will come together to tackle the most pressing climate issues in dialogue with leaders from the civil society, business, youth, indigenous people, and other sectoral groups.

The worsening summer climate the world has experienced this year is a strong reminder that we are running behind schedule in mitigating climate change.

Therefore, we must show our support for the swift implementation of climate adaptation and mitigation solutions. We can fervently remind our leaders that the world needs to decarbonise rapidly whilst not sacrificing economic progress by accelerating a just and equitable energy transition. We should also remind them that sustainable development is all about inclusivity.

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