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Cop28 needs to be a global turning point in the fight against climate change and not just a mere “gathering of pledges”, experts said.
Ahead of the crucial talks opening in Dubai on Thursday, there are calls for measures that “turbo-charge” global climate action and place vulnerable communities at the heart of that action and “avoid condemning billions of people around the world to misery and suffering from more extreme weather events”.
Leaders, ministers, royalty, climate advocates, billionaires and officials from across the world are expected to be among those attending the summit in Dubai that runs until December 12. The impact is being seen across the city with road restrictions, clogged public transport and a surge in hotel bookings.
Data from analytics provider Costar shows hotel occupancy at more than 60 per cent over the first three days of the summit – eclipsing New Year’s Eve, normally the busiest night.
But Cops are serious affairs dominated by difficult talks between close to 200 countries. The summit comes in a year that has seen climate records shattered, extreme weather events become more common and the UN warning the world was headed for warming of close to 3ºC which would threaten the health of billions of people.
An essential milestone
“Cop28 is an essential milestone for climate diplomacy,” said Tom Evans of think tank E3G.
“Agreements reached in Dubai will profoundly impact whether or not we continue on our current trajectory towards dangerous levels of global warming for which we are incredibly unprepared.”
Mr Evans said governments meeting in the UAE had a rare chance to agree a package of measures “that can turbo-charge global climate action” in response to the global stocktake.
The stocktake will be the first assessment of how the world is doing according to the 2015 Paris deal. It is already clear the world is way off track.
“The task at hand is daunting amid geopolitical crises but in the face of the climate crisis, necessary,” Mr Evans said.
Aside from the stocktake, talks at the summit are expected to focus on getting the contentious loss and damage fund into operation; scaling up climate finance; the future of fossil fuels; bolstering food systems to cope with a warming world; ending deforestation; and examining the impact of the climate crisis on our health.
There must be a turning point
Harjeet Singh, head of global political strategy at Climate Action Network International, said Cop28 “must transcend being merely a gathering of pledges”.
“It needs to mark a turning point where concrete actions take precedence,” said Mr Singh.
“Central to this agenda is the operationalisation of the loss and damage fund, a crucial step in acknowledging and addressing the disproportionate impact of climate change on vulnerable communities and countries.
“Equity must be the cornerstone of this transition, ensuring that the most vulnerable, who are least responsible for the crisis, do not bear the brunt of these changes.
“Rich countries bear the responsibility to fulfil their climate finance commitments, not as an act of charity but as a duty of justice,” he added.
Mr Singh said it was important to scale up climate adaptation measures that would ease the scale of loss and damage and called for Cop28 to be the “catalyst for a fair and equitable phase-out” of fossil fuels, taking into account the diverse capacities and historical responsibilities of different nations.
Cop28 organisers are expecting tens of thousands of people, from activists to billionaires, to attend the summit.
Pope Francis cancelled his attendance on Tuesday night but the UK’s King Charles III will be there.
US President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping are set to miss the summit but their envoys, John Kerry and Xie Zhenhua, are expected to be there. UN chief Antonio Guterres will also attend, as well as President Brazil’s Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and UN climate chief Simon Stiell.
“We must see strong political leadership in Dubai, with pledges for more ambitious action, to avoid condemning billions of people around the world to misery and suffering from more extreme weather events, sea level rise and other impacts,” said Bob Ward, policy director at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at the London School of Economics.
He added that Cop28 was a “critical moment for the world”.
“We must see all countries signal an end to the age of fossil fuels and usher in a new age of sustainable, inclusive and resilient economic development and growth.”