“While exceeding the 2°C threshold for a number of days does not mean that we have breached the Paris Agreement targets, the more often that we exceed this threshold, the more serious the cumulative effects of these breaches will become”
–Carlo Buontempo, Copernicus”
Summer, September and October 2023 gave the world new heat records. Coincidence? Possibly, but certainly not likely. This is what has been predicted for some time. There exists a consensus that the climate is changing – and in the short run it will continue to do so regardless of what we do. That doesn’t mean that climate change is irreversible, but it will require determination to do something about it.
In comes the 28th Conference of the Parties, more often referred to as COP28. Some 198 countries (and 70 000 delegates) will meet in Dubai and hopefully most of them will try their best to agree on how we can limit the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Expectations are high and while many complain that COP28 is held in an oil producing country and chaired by the president of an oil company (Sheikh Al-Jaber), others argue that there is no way around that; oil producing countries must be inside the negotiations, leaving them outside won’t make anything better.
There is a lot on the agenda, for example:
- This is the first meeting where there will be a stocktaking of what countries have done so far,
- The loss and damage finance facility to help vulnerable communities deal with immediate climate impacts;
- A global goal on finance that would help fund developing countries’ in addressing climate change,
- Discussions on accelerating both an energy and a just transition, as well as
- Closing the massive emissions gap.
The stocktaking is based on the nationally determined contributions (NDC:s) that countries have produced. These will now be updated for the period 2025-30. It seems to me that there is still work to be done – with regard to ambition as well as to action. In fact, the synthesis report indicates that we are currently on track towards a 2.4-2.6 degrees.
On a positive note, the loss and damage fund has already been agreed and is beginning to take shape. It will be hosted by the World Bank and some 400 million USD have been pledged. This will not meet expectations, however, and discussions are expected to continue.
Personally, I am curious to see if COP28 will advance discussions on how economies can transform in a manner which is also socially sustainable (i.e. “just”). Earlier this year I had the opportunity to participate in an assignment where we looked at how businesses can contribute to a transition that is both Just and Green. I hope I will be able to return to this at some point (or ask me, if you wish to know more!). For an interesting background to the concept of a Just Green Transition, see this document.
“The 1.5-degree limit is only possible if we ultimately stop burning all fossil fuels. Not reduce. Not abate.” -Guterres
There is no way around it. The last few months have been characterised by crises and disasters. Political, environmental and social. Armed conflicts and terrorist attacks, earthquakes and floodings, and if you live in Sweden: a gang-war that is now definitely impacting the larger public and not only criminals. And let us not forget the economic climate with inflation, sluggish or even negative growth figures resulting in unemployment and bankruptcies. As I write this, the consequences of the terrorist attacks on Israel, and the war that is now unfolding, are yet to be seen, but we know that they are and will to continue to be, brutal. It is physically far away from me, yet so present. This is another reminder that violence and conflicts, tend to overshadow most other developments. It is 2023 and we ought to know and be better.
There is good news as well, even though it may be difficult to recall. Like same sex marriages being legalised in Hong Kong. Or that a number of companies and municipalities silently decided that they see no option but being part of the solution (if you live in Sweden this article may inspire on what municipalities can do). Daily I meet people working for companies or government institutions that really believe that a better world is possible and who are actively working on finding their role in this change. That gives me hope.