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COP28: No progress yet on Global Stocktake, climate finance

ByJayashree Nandi, Dubai
Dec 08, 2023 04:23 AM IST

Halfway through the UN Climate Summit (COP28) which will come to a close on December 12 there is no progress yet on major aspects of negotiating texts.

Halfway through the UN Climate Summit (COP28) which will come to a close on December 12 there is no progress yet on major aspects of negotiating texts including the Global Stocktake, Global Goal on Adaptation, Climate Finance, though participants can take cheer from the fact that the Loss and Damage fund was operationalised on Day 1. Here’s a halfway update.

Activists hold placards and shout slogans during a protest, at the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP28 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on Wednesday. (REUTERS)
Activists hold placards and shout slogans during a protest, at the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP28 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on Wednesday. (REUTERS)

What has been achieved so far?

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The Loss and Damage Fund was operationalised on November 30. There were fears that the text on operationalising the fund would be reopened especially because US had objected to parts of the text during the final Transitional Committee (on Loss and Damage) meeting in Abu Dhabi in November. But the COP28 Presidency managed to ensure its adoption. Around $726 million (to date) has been pledged for the fund but its important to understand that there is no clarity on how the funds will be scaled up to meet actual needs. Developing countries have said the actual needs are closer to $400 billion a year. All developing countries are eligible to directly access resources from the Fund.

Also Read: Optimism ebbs at COP28 as fault lines on contentious issues widen

The COP28 Presidency also said the conference has mobilised over $83 billion in the first five days, setting the pace for a “new era in climate action”. These include the first ever declarations on food systems transformation and health, plus declarations on renewable energy and efficiency, as well as initiatives to decarbonize heavy emitting industries. Around 11 pledges and declarations have been launched — but these are not legally binding and not part of negotiations.

The Global Stocktake (GST)

This COP will set the precedent by concluding the first-ever GST which is a review of the collective progress on Paris Agreement’s goals of keeping global temperature rise this century well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°Celsius. According to Jennifer Allan from IISD’s Earth Negotiations Bulletin, there are differences even on framing what countries have done in the past. On the one hand, there are the Global North countries that are responsible for historical emissions that contributed largely to global temperature rise and on the other among Global South countries, there are emerging economies which are also large emitters including China and India. “Both facts are true. They are finding it difficult to agree on the shared narrative. It is really tricky to frame what the past is telling us,” she said.

There are even stronger disagreements on the forward-looking aspects of GST — on how countries will now deliver on the Paris Goals. Developing countries are finding the push to have language on phasing out fossil fuels beginning with coal very prescriptive. Several of the negotiators said there is an effort to rewrite the Convention and get developing countries to accept mitigation strategies that they are not ready to implement. This is in view of the depleting Carbon budget which has already been consumed largely by the rich countries in the past.

HT reported on Thursday that as the summit enters the second week, fault lines are also emerging among country groups on the phase out of fossil fuels, with larger focus on coal, as experts look at a tough concluding week of negotiations.

While countries such as Saudi Arabia, China and India are likely to oppose language on phasing out fossil fuels and stopping new coal projects, the US and the EU are pushing for strong language on these along with inclusion of carbon capture and storage technologies, observers in Dubai said.

“Most concerning is paragraph 35 (in the draft GST text), which speaks about fossil fuel phase out. One of the options in this paragraph speaks to a phase out of fossil fuels with a vague timeline of the “mid-century”. Another, option speaks to the phase out of coal by 2030 and an immediate stop to new unabated coal generation. This singling out of coal has long been contentious particularly from India and China. “India’s surgical edits included a suggestion to remove paragraph 35,” the Down To Earth reported on Wednesday. In short, a lot of work needs to be done yet on GST.

What is yet to be achieved?

There has been no progress on the Global Goal on Adaptation, observers pointed out, with rule 16 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) being used on the report of the Adaptation Committee on Wednesday. Rule 16 says that if there is no consensus, the agenda will be moved to the next COP. There is no text ready on the Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA) either.

GGA is a collective commitment under Article 7.1 of the Paris Agreement aimed at “enhancing [the world’s] adaptive capacity, strengthening resilience and reducing vulnerability to climate change”. It is an important issue for India which is dealing with severe impacts of extreme weather. “We are very disappointed with the lack of progress on GGA because it is a critical issue for developing countries,” said a negotiator from India, who asked not to be named. He also stressed that negotiations so far are extremely focused on mitigation but not enough on adaptation which is relevant for countries from the Global South. Some negotiators also said that adaptation side has been traded off with Loss and Damage.

On finance, India and developing countries said there is yet no definition of climate finance and hence there is no way to review if the long promised $100 billion was delivered. “The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has said that the long promised $100 billion has been delivered. But when we do not even have an agreed definition of climate finance, how do we know what has been delivered? Those may be investments which we do not accept to be climate finance,” the official cited above added. The issue is likely to be taken up in the second half of the summit.

“Halfway through COP28, it’s evident that some governments are hesitant to take the necessary steps to transition to a future free from fossil fuel pollution. With record numbers of fossil fuel lobbyists in the hallways of the Dubai climate summit seeking to introduce loopholes into the energy package negotiations, we’re witnessing a lack of accountability and willingness to change course, particularly among the affluent fossil fuel-producing nations. Their failure to abide by their legal obligations, which include providing finance and support to developing countries, and this is bringing us closer and closer to climate chaos,” said Lili Fuhr, program director, Center for International Environmental Law’s Fossil Economy .

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