The world got poor marks on climate action. This is how COP28 aims to solve this problem | Trending Viral hub


CLIMATE CABLE | DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Now the real work begins.

The first days of the COP28 climate conference featured so many Lofty declarations and flashy promises. You would be forgiven for asking what the delegates are still doing here. But the main negotiations have only just begun.

At the center of this year’s summit is something called “Global Balance,” often abbreviated to GST, a nondescript name that belies its vital role in international climate efforts.

In short, it is about preparing a report on the state of the world eight years after signing the Paris Agreement and how countries plan to solve its inevitable deficiencies. That plan that will emerge from COP28 will help determine whether the world can avoid the worst impacts of climate change or hurtle toward unbearable temperatures.

German climate envoy Jennifer Morgan called the balance sheet the “heart” of the Paris climate agreement; Toeolesulusulu Cedric Schuster, president of the Alliance of Small Island States, called it a “lifesaver” for especially vulnerable countries like his native Samoa.

The outcome of this shadowy process is also what senior ministers will haggle over when they arrive for the second week of COP28, and what the hosts the United Arab Emirates will ultimately be judged by.

“What makes this COP unique compared to previous COPs? First of all, it is the global balance,” EU chief negotiator Jacob Werksman told reporters on Monday.

So what is it? We’ll see.

What are we talking about?

The Global Stocktake broadly refers to a comprehensive assessment of how much progress countries are making toward the goals of the Paris Agreement, which committed countries to limiting global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius and ideally to 1.5 C. compared to the pre-industrial era.

The process consists of three components. The first stage, collecting all relevant information, began two years ago. The second phase, evaluating that data, ended this summer.

The final task, the response to this evaluation, concludes at COP28. That’s the hard part.

Under the terms of the Paris agreement, countries must carry out this exercise every five years.

Wait, the evaluation has already been done?

Yes. You’ll sometimes hear that countries will conduct an assessment of their climate efforts while in Dubai, but the United Nations has already published its report summarizing findings in September, concluding that the world is not meeting its Paris goals.

“That assessment has already been made, it is clear that we are not on the right track,” Morgan said at a news conference in Dubai last week. With current efforts, he noted, “we will see a temperature increase of 2.5°C to 2.9°C.”

And he added: “That is unimaginable.”

Beyond 1.5°C, climate impacts such as extreme weather or sea level rise worsen substantially. Scientists warn that exceeding that threshold risks triggering irreversible tipping points, such as a dramatic loss of polar ice, that would further exacerbate warming.

So what’s happening at COP28?

Negotiators in Dubai are discussing what countries should do with that report, which gave strict instructions to maintain any hope of reaching the 1.5°C target: first, reduce 43 percent of greenhouse gas emissions this year. decade (compared to 2019 levels), then achieving the net 1.5°C target. zero emissions by 2050.

But there are deep divisions over how to get there.

“The first component is taking stock of what the gaps are,” said Tom Evans, who follows stocktaking talks in Dubai for the E3G think tank. “Secondly, what do you do about these gaps? And that’s where the political flashpoints are.”

What could that answer be?

Many things, but the idea is that all members of the Paris Agreement (that is, almost 200 countries) support a coherent plan at the end of the summit.

Again, it’s not easy.

The document is expected to analyze what went wrong and then look to the future with guidelines on how to remedy those deficiencies. That roadmap should include a climate wish list: everything from reducing emissions to preparing communities for the consequences of climate change and financing both.

So…words on a page. Does that even matter?

It does so, for several reasons.

First, the text will give clear instructions to countries as they develop their next climate action plans. The Paris Agreement requires governments to present new plans before COP30, which will take place in Brazil in 2025.

Second, those words send a powerful signal to markets, local governments and more. If nearly 200 countries agree to text saying a coal phase-out is necessary, investors will take the hint.

With the balance sheet, “we have the opportunity to make a set of decisions… that find the clarity business leaders need to invest in the future,” Morgan said.

The outcome will also test the integrity of the Paris agreement. These regular checks and the requirement to then update climate plans are intended to ensure that everyone increases their efforts over time.

“The effectiveness of the Paris Agreement is at stake,” Evans said.

And what do the countries want?

The final outcome should set out what to do about planet-warming fossil fuels, as well as efforts to prepare for a warmer future and measures to ensure poorer countries also have the resources to do so.

“No one is trying to tear everything down,” Evans said.

That does not mean that the countries are close to an agreement.

Urgent calls for a “phase out” of fossil fuels – a hotly debated term – are especially controversial.

Many developing countries say they need more financial support to back ambitious language on fossil fuels and other efforts to reduce emissions.

Meanwhile, the EU, the United States and climate-vulnerable countries are trying to ensure that the new plans do not exempt any industries and cover all greenhouse gases, not just carbon dioxide, which China recently He said he agreed with.

In the other direction, several countries whose economies depend on oil and gas exports (Russia and Saudi Arabia among them) are trying to push for language that allows the continued use of fossil fuels.

What is the role of the United Arab Emirates here?

The UAE runs the show and must carry the balance to its conclusion. At some point, the officials in charge will have to produce a draft text for countries to accept or reject.

COP28 president Sultan al-Jaber, who controversially also heads the UAE’s state oil giant, has repeatedly insisted he will push for the “most ambitious possible response” to the balance sheet. But he has been vague about what that would look like.

Still, Evans said, “they are aware that it is the centerpiece of their COP. The shine of those early promises will fade and they will have to produce something.”

How are the negotiations going?

There are already some difficult signs.

As of Monday afternoon, negotiators had not produced a detailed draft text, despite spending about 10 hours talking behind closed doors on Sunday.

A text describing possible “building blocks” He was released on Friday, but it’s more of a broad summary that left all the tough questions unanswered. For the energy sector, for example, options included “phasing out/phasing out fossil fuels” and “phasing out/phasing out/no new coal.” In other words: all options are on the table.

Whats Next?

In the coming days, negotiators will try to reach agreement on as many sections of the text as possible, but their bosses will take over in the second week of the summit to resolve the thorniest issues.

This week’s talks “will inevitably lead to some very important political issues that ministers will have to resolve in the second week,” said Werksman, the EU negotiator. “We can’t fully speculate on what exactly those questions are, but we imagine the question of how we’re going to address fossil fuels will top the list.”

Technically, the deadline is December 12, but if past COPs are any guide, overtime may occur.

Reprinted from E&E News with permission from POLITICO, LLC. Copyright 2023. E&E News provides essential news for energy and environmental professionals.


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