King Charles has opened the COP28 Climate Summit in the United Arab Emirates with the following words:
I pray with all my heart that COP28 will be another critical turning point towards genuine transformational action at a time when, already, as scientists have been warning for so long, we are seeing alarming tipping points being reached.
As world leaders hold their summit at the COP over this weekend, there will be many warm words, and statements on the need for greater ambition. Will these be turned into action by 12 December when COP28 comes to an end? We will keep you updated. Meanwhile, here’s our assessment of what we think would make COP28 a success.
$100 billion a year to enable developing countries invest in low-carbon pathways
In 2009, the developed nations of the world, who in the past benefited most from cheap fossil fuels, pledged to support developing countries to decarbonise their economies. We heard the news in the past weeks from the OECD that this has probably been achieved at last, but it is disgraceful that developing countries have had to wait so long. Meanwhile the need and cost has increased, and the mechanisms need to be improved so that greater proportion of finance is in the form of cash rather than loans. It is this finance that enables many developing countries to be more ambitious on their carbon reduction targets. A large majority of nation states would agree that we need a big step up in the volumes and quality of finance, but can they deliver?
A Loss and Damage Fund
COP28 has been able to announce some early promising news. At least $420 million has been pledged for the Loss and Damage fund. Somalia is currently experiencing its worst flooding in decades, displacing 700,000 people. Countries like Somalia do not have the resources to repair damaged infrastructure. For faith groups, this is a matter of justice. In 2020, due to some nation states’ resistance, Loss and Damage was scrubbed off the agenda of COP25. Now, thanks to a global campaign, we have the first donations to a mechanism that has been hammered out since the Glasgow COP in 2021. When citizens come together, we can create change. But let’s get some perspective: to be effective, this fund cannot be in the hundreds of millions. It must start at $25 billion, and rise in order to help meet costs of loss and damage that will be over ten times this sum by 2030. Which leads us on to…
Making Polluters Pay
As a part of the Make Polluters Pay coalition, JPIT has called for oil and gas companies to be taxed to provide finance for Loss and Damage and climate mitigation. A panel at COP28 has heard that subsidies to fossil fuel companies (subsidies which campaigners have been trying to abolish) still stand at $1.3 trillion. Innovative financing mechanisms could raise the billions that are needed to address the crisis. A levy on oil-producing states will be discussed at COP28 for the first time, but how far will these discussions get? There are also strong calls for taxation of fossil fuel companies’ profits and for taxation of global shipping and aviation. If we can make polluters pay, it would raise the serious sums of money that are needed to address loss and damage and to ensure clean sources of energy for developing countries.
And most importantly…
Nations must pledge the action necessary for us to keep global warming within 1.5 degrees. COP28 will be a ‘stocktaking’ COP, but it is clear already that countries are well off track. The UN Environment Programme reports that, in the most optimistic scenario in which all government pledges are kept, we still only have a 14% chance of keeping to 1.5 degrees. United Nations Secretary General, António Guterres, told COP28 delegations:
We are living through climate collapse in real time. Record global heating should send shivers down the spines of world leaders. And it should trigger them to act.
They must act before 2030, and a 2030 target is so close that it requires not so much a pledge, but a concrete plan. The time for pledging has past, the time for action has arrived. A timetable for a global phasing out of fossil fuels is vital. In two years’ time, nation states will be bringing to COP30 a new set of Nationally Determined Contributions on carbon reduction, but that work starts here, with concrete proposals to make sure that these much deeper contributions are feasible.
See our Facebook and Twitter posts on COP’s progress between now and 12 December. On Monday 4 December, Annie Sharples will report on this weekend’s Global Leaders’ Summit in UAE. To see the schedule for COP28, plus prayers and other resources, go to our dedicated COP28 update page.