A week from today delegates from across the globe will be gathering in the UAE for COP28, the next annual UN climate summit. It will conclude the five-yearly progress report, which began in Glasgow at COP26, against what was set out in the historic Paris Agreement. The week before (Monday 20 November) saw yet another UN report with a dire warning for humanity: current climate policies and commitments have the world on track for a ‘hellish’ 3 degrees ℃ rise above pre-industrial levels this century. This will mean more frequent and extraordinary floods, wildfires and storms with catastrophic consequences for the safety of those most climate vulnerable, livelihoods, and for our natural world. Every degree of warming matters which is why, now more than ever, we need world leaders to heed these warnings.
While the overall goal of any COP is securing global cooperation to tackle climate change, the agenda will vary according to the interests of the host country. At the centre of COP28 will be the conclusion of the Global Stocktake and a key outcome of the conference will be the ‘decision’ text which will aim to reflect on actions so far as well as lay out a plan going forward. Currently, the stocktake is set to show that countries must scale up the ambitions and the implementation of their plans in order to meet targets. Therefore, this COP represents a key opportunity for countries to course correct on their climate policies.
The role of fossil fuels will be another key area for discussion. This particular COP has sparked controversy, due the location in a major petrostate and the choice of president – Sultan Al Jabar, the Chief Executive of the state oil company. The recent UN Environment Programme report warns that in order to achieve the ambition set out in Paris of keeping temperature rise well below 2 degrees ℃, 22bn tonnes of CO2 emissions must be cut from the currently projected total by 2030, which represents 42% of global emissions and matches the output of five of the world’s biggest polluters.
Scientists have been very clear for many years that we must phase out fossil fuels fast in order to achieve the emission cuts we need. So, a clear decision by COP28 to do this, and in a way that is equitable to the poorer countries of the world (which means rich countries leading the way) is essential.
Another key COP discussion for conservation organisations is the role of nature in addressing climate change. It is estimated that a third of the emission reductions we need could be realised by protecting and restoring nature. Critically, the science is clear that this is needed as well as an end to fossil fuel, not instead of it, if we are to prevent runaway climate change. Therefore, we would like to see world leaders take seriously the important role investing in nature could play in both mitigating the effects of climate change and supporting communities to adapt and build resilience. For instance, we know that restoring mangrove forests – work done by A Rocha Kenya and Ghana for example – absorbs carbon and has proven effective as flood defences on coastlines affected by rising sea levels. It will be incredibly important for countries to be prepared to invest financially in nature-positive and effective climate solutions.
We are living in a time of unprecedented climate change and biodiversity loss: every action, every fraction of a degree of global warming matters – every potential oil field not exploited, every new renewable energy source, every bird of the air and restored forest matters.
How can you take action?
Pray: Join us as we pray for the negotiations. Additional prayers will be added here during COP28.
March: Join our team at the Global Day of Action on 9 December. Register via Eventbrite here.
Speak Up: Tell your MP you want to see nature prioritised at the next election. Sign the Nature 2023 campaign here.