By Kershni Ramreddi
With global temperatures reaching record highs and extreme weather events affecting people all over the world, this year’s UN climate change conference, represents a critical opportunity for world leaders and those who are responsible for the devastation in our world to reverse the current direction and accelerate action to address the climate crisis.
At COP28, affected people will want our leaders to not only assess progress towards the Paris Agreement but also come up with a course of action to substantially decrease emissions while protecting lives and livelihoods. The science is clear:in order to maintain a liveable climate, coal, oil, and gas production must fall rapidly, while worldwide renewable power capacity, including wind, solar, hydro, and geothermal energy, must triple by 2030. Simultaneously, adaptation financing and investments in climate resilience require a quantum leap.
COP28 brings together leaders from governments, corporations, and civil society to find concrete answers to this ticking time bomb already defined as the most critical issue of our time and lives. The United Nations climate change conference, COP28, will be held this year in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, from November 30 to December 12, 2023.
Our world leaders will miss the opportunity to limit warming to 1.5°C this century with minimum overshoot if they do not make decisions that reverse course by moving the transition away from fossil fuels and establishing low-carbon climate-resilient economies. Already, 3.3–3.6 billion people are vulnerable to the effects of climate change, and this number will rapidly rise as temperatures rise. We must urgently ramp up efforts to assist both humanity and the environment in adapting to a warmer world, as well as implement climate solutions, which are already accessible across all sectors and have the potential to more than halve emissions by 2030. This is critical if we are to keep global warming to 1.5°C and prevent the most severe consequences for humanity and the environment.
COP28 must be the moment when the entire globe comes together to address climate challenges and deliver for people and the environment. We expect a successful Global Stocktake, which will pave the way for stronger Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to correct course to 1.5 degrees Celsius, a decision to phase out fossil fuels no later than 2050, full operationalisation of the Loss and Damage Fund with pledged funds, a decision on a comprehensive framework for the Global Goal on Adaptation, scaling up finance by developed countries to exceed $100 billion per year, and alignment of all private and public financial flows with climate change. This is what we should expect from the Climate Summit this year, but it cannot be assured. We expect countries to implement the agreements to cut greenhouse gas emissions that were made in previous COPS, such as Egypt, Paris, and Glasgow. They must agree to significant global commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions and share the time frame to achieve this target. This entails promising to stick to the more ambitious targets outlined in the Paris Agreement and to implement policies and actions that are aimed at mitigating the climate crisis. Increased financial assistance for climate adaptation and mitigation activities, particularly in developing nations, is one of the primary expectations.
We should expect the development and adoption of concrete action plans and policies to address specific environmental challenges. These would be initiatives for a just transition and shifting to renewable energy sources, conserving the environment, reducing deforestation, and encouraging sustainable agriculture. On the agenda should be discussions and agreements for carbon markets and trading methods.
The establishment of systems that incentivise carbon emission reductions through trading mechanisms or carbon pricing could have critical outcomes. Increased transparency and accountability in reporting emissions and progress towards climate targets are expected.
To achieve compliance, stronger systems for monitoring and verifying countries’ commitments and actions are required. Civil society, communities, and other stakeholders must be included in decision-making processes. Policies and activities must be comprehensive, equitable, and take into account varied perspectives. Urgency is critical in tackling climate change; urgent and decisive action is required to mitigate the worst effects of climate change that are yet to come.
If global warming continues, there will be far more catastrophic disasters and long-term weather pattern changes, shattering lives and livelihoods and upending nations. A mass migration could follow. Furthermore, failure to stabilise emissions by 2030 might result in global warming of more than 2 degrees Celsius and hazardous tipping points where climate change becomes self-perpetuating. By taking prompt action, we can not only avoid the worst-case scenario but also plan for a brighter future. If the green transformation succeeds, we will have a cleaner planet, less pollution, stronger economies, and healthier populations. To get there, we must take action on three fronts: consistent policies to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, effective adaptation measures, and consistent financial support to assist vulnerable nations in supporting these efforts. Scaling up renewable energy and transitioning away from fossil fuels are two sides of the same coin, and COP28 must deliver on both. Without a corresponding agreement on fossil fuel phase-out, a deal to triple renewable energy capacity and double energy efficiency would fall short of COP28’s full potential. It is critical to shift financial flows away from fossil fuels in order to put words into action, and a firm decision must be made to stop all investments in any fossil fuel development on land and in our oceans. The global north cannot shift the burden to the global south; rather, they should ensure their fossil fuel corporations stay away from entering our continent, using our resources, and destroying our future.
COP28 is a watershed moment in humanity’s fight against climate change. The stakes are tremendous, as is the sense of urgency. This summit must leave us with a reinvigorated sense of purpose, stronger connections, and a clear path to a more sustainable future. Let COP28 be remembered as the point at which nations, corporations, and individuals came together to address the climate issue full-on, paving the way for a more sustainable and resilient world for future generations. Our earth, as well as future generations, depend on it.
*Ramreddi is Just and Energy Project Officer at the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance
**The views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of Independent Media or IOL