COP28 Recap: Hope Amidst Uncertainty

Published On: January 3, 2024 10:45 AM NPT By: Pradeep Bhattarai

Pradeep Bhattarai

The contributor for Republica.

The 28th Session of the Conference of Parties (COP28) in Dubai recently concluded, drawing varied reactions from global leaders, activists, and negotiators. Held from 29th November to 13th December 2023, the event culminated in the UAE Consensus. While the adoption of the GST text received standing ovations from many negotiators, representatives from the Alliance of Small Island States expressed concern about their absence during the adoption. This year, the world witnessed a new record of hottest days and the Dubai COP broke record, attracting over 100,000 registered attendees. 

Expectations were high, anticipating agreements on operationalizing the loss and damage fund established in COP27, a consensus on fossil fuel usage aligning with the Paris Agreement's temperature goals, and resolving remaining issues of the Paris Agreement. On the first day, a historic moment unfolded with the agreement on the operationalization of the Loss and Damage Fund, gathering pledges totaling USD 792 million by the conference's end. This conference delivered a package of outcomes such as the adoption of a framework for the Global Goal on Adaption, the Just Transition Work Program, and the Mitigation Work Program. Regardless of these achievements, several other crucial agendas remained unresolved such as climate finance and the carbon market. Despite this, the COP failed to address the urgency of the climate crisis, leaving many with an unsettling sense of uncertainty regarding future actions amidst the escalating impacts of climate change.

The urgency of the climate crisis was underscored by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, stressing the need for global greenhouse gas emissions to peak by 2025 and subsequently reduced by 43% by 2030 to limit global temperature rise to 1.5℃ above pre-industrial levels. While the GST text emphasized the necessity to end the era of fossil fuels, disappointingly, the summit fell short of a complete phasing out, only acknowledging a 'transition away' from them. Although calling for increased renewable energy capacity and improved energy efficiency by 2030, the document lacked critical measures for financing the transition and holding historically responsible parties accountable for emissions.

While the GST text brings hope in tackling escalating climate threats, its efficacy depends on countries' commitment levels to implement outlined actions. Lamentably, there's no legally binding agreement in place to enforce these actions, relying solely on the parties' intentions. Developed nations, previously criticized for not meeting obligations, need stronger commitments to mitigate climate risks, especially for vulnerable communities, or risk veering away from the 1.5℃ warming limit, impacting the developing world severely.

Nepal stood prominently at COP28, led by Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, advocating for climate justice. With over 300 representatives, Nepal actively engaged in negotiations and showcased its climate change efforts through more than 35 events. Highlighting the country's climate action commitment, Nepal emphasized the profound impacts of climate change it faces, especially in mountainous regions.

The COP marked a significant milestone as it officially recognized the impacts of climate change on mountains, a key focus for Nepal, in the GST document. It further identified mountains as a region capable of mitigating various climate change risks while offering multiple co-benefits. The Subsidiary Body for Scientific andTechnological Advice has been requested to organize an expert dialogue in June 2024 to further explore the connection between mountains and climate change.

Looking ahead, Nepal aims to leverage the newly operationalized Loss and Damage Fund, requiring internal preparations to claim funds for climate-induced disasters. Enhancing institutional capabilities to secure funding facilitated by UNFCCC and through preparations for the upcoming expert dialogue on mountains in June remain crucial priorities for Nepal.

In conclusion, while COP28 made strides in certain aspects, crucial issues remain unresolved. The summit's success hinges on countries' dedication to implementing outlined actions, particularly in aiding vulnerable regions like Nepal's mountainous areas, amidst the pressing urgency of the global climate crisis.

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