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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Tackling the climate crisis

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More than 160 world leaders have shifted gear in the Conference of Parties 28 in Dubai for the latest summit on climate change.

Experts have raised some issues to watch for in the 13-day summit which ends on Dec. 12.

One of these is the energy transition, with eyes on the language leaders will adopt regarding the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy — crucial to limiting long-term warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius as envisaged under the Paris Agreement.

At COP26 in Glasgow, in 2021, countries agreed to a “phasedown” of “unabated coal power.”

Since then, momentum has been building among governments and activists to extend similar ideas to oil and gas, though the exact phrasing will have to be hammered out.

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Dr Sultan Al Jaber, COP28 president, said Day 1 on Thursday reached more than double its target for the Loss and Damage Fund. The threshold set to establish and operationalize the Fund was $200 million, he said.

“We reached more than $420 million in the first half. And I know that over the next couple of days, many more pledges and many more commitments are going to be made by these different heads of states and different heads of governments.”

Another issue being tackled is making ‘loss and damage’ a reality. A major breakthrough at COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, was an agreement in principle to compensate climate-vulnerable countries that are least responsible for greenhouse gas emissions and facing multiplying severe weather impacts.

Then there is the climate financing gap.

Here expert groups believe the world needs in excess of $3 trillion in annual climate-related flows by the year 2030 to keep climate goals alive — but so far developing countries have fallen well short, both in terms of accelerating decarbonization, known as mitigation, and building resilience to climate impacts, known as adaptation.

In 2009, richer countries promised to reach $100 billion annually in funding for these priorities by 2020 — a goal finally met last year, according to an OECD report earlier this month.

COP28 is expected to lay the groundwork for a new financing goal to succeed the old $100 billion target, though parties are not required to reach a decision this year.

We are watching the summit, aware that countries should unite and be committed to mitigating climate change and its effects.

As Dr. Al Jaber said: “Our main focus is going to continue to be on translating visions and aspirations, and declarations and decisions and to real practical actions that will make a difference.”

It is time the global community exerted best efforts to honor their commitments on climate change.

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