The United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties or COPs is a privileged global stage which brings together decision makers, business leaders, next generation, scientists, indigenous people, journalists and other experts and sakeholders, to debate on climate key issues with representations from almost every country in the world. The COP28 that has just ended in Dubai attracted the spotlight of the world because of many expectations being in an important phase compared to the first edition COP21 held in Paris in 2015 where Paris Agreement came to light. This legally binding international treaty on climate change signed by 196 Parties paved the way to limit consistently global warming to 1.5°C by the end of this century. What was the outcome of this edition? What can we expect now?
As required by more than 100 countries, the updatd text of the agreement no longer contains the words "phase-out", which indicated the gradual elimination of fossil fuels. The new commitment, considered as a historical one, leads all signatories to reduce all fossil fuels by 2050. Fossil energy sources are thus mentioned for the first time in the agreement as reaffirmed by Ahmed Al-Jaber, Sultan of the United Arab Emirates and President of the COP28. And the nuance is not only stylistic.
Countries that signed the updated agreement commit to quit from fossil fuel energy systems in a "fair, orderly and equitable manner" and to contribute proactively to global ecology and energy transition, through collaboration. What concrete action should be taken? Tripling renewable energy capacities and dobling energy efficiency performance by 2030 with the support of 'zero carbon' and 'low carbon' technologies, including nuclear energy, reduced-environment-impact hydrogen, carbon capture and storage.
Sultan Al Jaber, President of COP28, highlighted: « We have delivered a paradigm shift that has the potential to redefine our economies. An agreement is only as good as its implementation. We are what we do, not what we say ». He pointed out the importance to implement the agreed principles via tangible actions capable to find a new path to a better future for our Planet in the next critical decade. Prior engagements fixed by Paris Agreement remain a priority that is reducing greenhouse emissions to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. The commitment extends to all geographical areas, not remaining confined to Western Countries. The final ambitious outcome is to reach a zero-emission status at the "finish line" in 2050 following the steps indicated by the scientific world.
The key points of this process are contained in an operational document, named Global Stocktake (GST), that draws up a balance compared to the 2015 Paris Agreement focused on reducing greenhouse emissions, climate adaptation and sustainable funding.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) edition gave also the greenlight for the implementation of the Loss and Damage Fund achieved at the COP27 held in 2022 in Egypt to support most vulnerable Countries financed mostly by voluntary contributions, as established.
Some policy-makers rejoiced at the outcome defining it as the beginning of the post fossil-fuel era. However, other participants stressed that there are still gaps in the practical application of the text with the risk that some economies continue to rely on fossil sources. It was extremely important to put emphasis on fossil fuels as the main problem to be solved. The phaseout is then urgent and necessary implying developed countries to speed their clean energy policies while sustaining developing countries to build up just transitions. Climate adaptation and mitigation are key success factors. Thus, the National Adaptation Plan (NAPs) process promoted by the United Nations Environmental Programmes - UNEP are expected to play an increasingly significant role to move from planning to action.
Photo >> Group of decision-makers attending COP28 in Dubai UAE © COP28
H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco reaffirmed the commitment of the Principality in the forefront by pointing out: « The Paris Agreement marked our collective engagement to achieve a liveable and sustainable future for all. This prior determination has been tested by numerous economic, health and geopolitic crisis. Alarm signals are equally clear and our current actions are inufficient. The terrible catastrophes that have hit the four corners of the planet in recent months are nothing but the premises of future upheavels if we do not regain control of our climate destiny. We also have the duty to do everything in our power to reverse th course. This conference will see the outcome of a historical multilateral process (...) we are asked to limit global warming. In Monaco we have taken ambitious actions within our climate and energy plan aimed at reducing emissions by 55% by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 ». The Sovereign Prince recalled that 10% of the gas used in Monaco comes from biomethane while energy transition for buildings is being processed considering that domestic emissions are particularly high. Ocean thermal energy will be then further developed and the fight against the use of plastic intensified in 2024. The Principality is also increasing its contribution to Green Funds and the investment in climate adaptation measures for vulnerable communities.
COP28 showed the need to adopt a 100% holistic approach based on close cooperation and the involvement of all economic and social sectors, without excluding the agro-food sector closely linked to the trend of climate change. The success of this and the previous COP will now depend on the responsibility of all in finding the right implementing actions. ***
To know more about the Conference of the Parties please visit: COP28
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By Maurice Abbati
Springer International Publishing