COP28 – A Look Ahead

Executive summary:

  • The main point under contention this year will be the phase-out of fossil fuels and the limited progress achieved so far.
  • As more businesses make net-zero commitments, there is mounting pressure for greater government support through policies and incentives.
  • Will parties be able to put aside their differences and come to an agreement to tackle the increasingly severe impacts from climate change?

The annual global climate change conference—COP28—is due to begin at the end of November in Dubai. This year’s conference takes place amid continuing economic turbulence and geopolitical unrest. Added to this, 2023 is on course to be the hottest year on record with many populations experiencing increased extreme weather events including wildfires, hurricanes, and flooding. Global leaders face mounting pressure to show action and outcomes at this year’s climate conference—but stakeholders are left wondering if they can come together fast enough to tackle these challenges.

COP27 – A re-cap

As a reminder, the COP (Conference of Parties) is an annual decision-making meeting for signatories to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Last year’s conference in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, made lackluster progress in addressing climate change. In the context of the Ukraine-Russia War, an energy crisis, food shortages, inflation worries, and tension between the U.S. and China, participants and watchers knew it would be difficult to reach a global agreement on how to best cut greenhouse gas emissions.

However, after going into overtime, parties signed an agreement which represented a step forward on climate finance. As part of the agreement, a loss and damage fund was created to support emerging market countries suffering from the financial impacts of climate change. Moreover, signatories were given to support the Bridgetown Initiative, which seeks to reform international development finance in response to the climate crisis.

A few points from COP27 were left in limbo. While countries agreed that the world was not on track to prevent the global average temperature rising to 1.5C, no agreement was made to strengthen 2030 targets to better align with the Paris Agreement. A surprise point of contention came around the transition away from fossil fuels—where the agreement to “phase down” coal usage ended up being excluded from the final agreement.