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COP28 President-Designate urges real and actionable commitments to address climate change

Dr. Sultan Al Jaber

Writes Baboloki Semele

Nairobi, Kenya: COP28 President-Designate, Dr. Sultan Al Jaber has called on leaders from both the public and private sectors to go to COP28 with real and actionable commitments to address climate change.

Speaking on the margins of Africa Climate Week in Nairobi, Kenya, Al Jaber noted that the globe needs to rapidly decarbonize both the supply side and demand side of the energy system at the same time. He pointed out the need to triple renewable energy by 2030, commercialize other zero-carbon solutions like hydrogen, and scale up the energy system free of all unabated fossil fuels while eliminating the emissions of the energies used today.

He further called on global leaders to protect and enhance nature, safeguard carbon sinks, and transform food systems that account for one-third of emissions, adding that there is a need for fundamental reform of the international financial architecture that was built for the last century.

COP28 President-designate says to keep 1.5 within reach, the world must act with ‘ambition and urgency’ to reduce emissions by 43% by 2030. That is why the COP28 Presidency has put forward an ambitious action agenda centered around fast-tracking a just and well-managed energy transition that leaves no one behind, fixing climate finance, focusing on people’s lives and livelihoods, and underpinning everything with full inclusivity.

He says he is optimistic that the world can deliver all of this while creating sustainable economic growth for all, adding that there has to be an urgent disruption of business as usual and unite like never before to move from ambition to action and from rhetoric to real results. His call comes after the publication of the key technical report on the global stocktake. The global stocktake was designed under the Paris Agreement to assess our global response to the climate crisis and chart a better way forward. T

The global stocktake is held every five years and is intended to inform the next round of nationally determined contributions to be put forward by 2025. The global stocktake started with a data collection phase in 2021, collecting a wide range of inputs from Parties, international bodies, and non-party stakeholders.

A technical dialogue was carried out across three meetings in 2022 and 2023 and was chaired, with the assistance of the UN Climate Change secretariat, by two co-facilitators Farhan Akhtar and Harald Winkler, nominated by developed and developing countries respectively. The scope of technical discussion was very broad, including mitigation, adaptation, and support, as well as loss and damage and response measures.

Cutting across all these topics were ambition and equity – all informed by the best available science. Commenting on the report, the president-designate said the report provides clear direction on how expectations of the Paris Agreement can be met by taking decisive action in this critical decade. For his part, Simon Stiell, Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change, urged governments to carefully study the findings of the report and ultimately understand what it means for them and the ambitious action they must take next, extending the call further to businesses, communities, and other key stakeholders.

He noted that while the catalytic role of the Paris Agreement and the multilateral process will remain vital in the coming years, the global stocktake is a critical moment for greater ambition and accelerating action. One of the two co-facilitators Farhan Akhtar says the technical dialogues were based on the best available science, drawing on the latest findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and other sources of knowledge, with broad participation of experts and non-party Stakeholders with diverse backgrounds.

Across the discussions, it was clear that the Paris Agreement has inspired widespread action that has significantly reduced forecasts of future warming. This global stocktake is taking place at a crucial moment to inspire further global action in responding to the climate crisis. The synthesis report of the technical dialogue published on 8 September 2023 summarizes 17 key technical findings from the discussions. Across the topics, the report makes clear that there is progress, but much more needs to be done. While there are well-known gaps, the technical findings highlighted existing and emerging opportunities and creative solutions to bridge these gaps. Good practices and proposals to accelerate implementation, action, and support, are highlighted in all areas.

The report lays a strong scientific and technical base for the conclusion of the first global stocktake in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, at the UN Climate Change Conference COP28.

More than 137 non-Party stakeholders submitted input on their actions and support for the Paris Agreement goals, in total over 170,000 pages of written submissions were received, and according to the other facilitator, Winkler, they had over 252 hours of meetings and discussions over the three meetings of the technical dialogue – in plenaries, roundtables and world café formats. As the report’s technical findings show, he says much more is needed now, on all fronts and by all actors to meet the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement.

During this final phase – the consideration of outcomes, a series of high-level events will be held to discuss the implications of these technical findings. These discussions will inform a decision and/or declaration summarizing key political messages, and identifying opportunities, good practices, and challenges to enhance climate action and support. With 198 Parties, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has near universal membership and is the parent treaty of the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement.

The main aim of the Paris Agreement is to keep a global average temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius and to drive efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The UNFCCC is also the parent treaty of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

The ultimate objective of all agreements under the UNFCCC is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system, in a time frame that allows ecosystems to adapt naturally and enables sustainable development.

About the author

Byron Adonis Mutingwende