Despite an 13th hour deal calling on all countries to move away from using fossil fuels, has there been an opportunity lost at COP28?
The deal recognises the need for deep, rapid and sustained reductions if humanity is to limit temperature rises to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. Whilst welcomed by some governments, many don’t think it goes far enough. For example, John Silk, the negotiator from the Marshall Islands, likened the final agreement to a “canoe with a weak and leaky hull, full of holes”, before adding “we have to put it into the water because we have no other option”.
Small islands hit hard by climate change protested, saying the deal was rushed through without them. They were represented by the Alliance of Small Island States (Aosis). It also departed from earlier stronger language to “phase out fossil fuels” which was supported by nations including the US, UK and European Union.
Responding to COP28 as an opportunity lost Kevin Anderson, Professor of Energy & Climate Change, has written ‘the final text from COP28 is a death knell for the stronger 1.5°C commitment of the Paris Agreement and even puts the much weaker 2°C obligation on critical life-support. No doubt there will be lots of cheer and back-slapping among many pontificators and even some climate ‘experts’, but the physics will not care. As the new agreement locks in high levels of emissions for years to come, so the temperature will continue to rise”.
However, one positive outcome was the agreement announced on the first day for the operation of a Loss and Damage Fund. Greenpeace reports that: “financially translated, that means countries pledged nearly US$300 million. The historic consensus will be a lifeline for communities already impacted by the climate crisis. But this can only happen once the richest countries take their responsibility seriously, resource the fund and have their accountability to pay up officially recognised in the final text.”
You can read Greenpeace’s ‘highs and lows’ of COP 28 .
Looking ahead to COP29, the host for next year’s UN climate talks will be gas-rich Azerbaijan in the Caucuses, another country pushing for fossil fuel exploitation!
The BBC News web site has published a guide to climate change.
You can find out about and get involved in local action to bring down carbon emissions through ACE’s local energy projects.