COP28 is a UN Conference on Climate Change, a global stocktake of the Paris Climate Agreement. During this event, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has taken over the role of presidency for the UN. It is the first such event in the history of the UN, and is a significant milestone as it follows the landmark Paris Agreement.
UAE takes over UN presidency from Egypt
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is set to take over the UN presidency from Egypt. This comes as the world faces an "immense turbulence", according to the UAE's ambassador to the UN Lana Nusseibeh.
UAE has played a critical role in the global response to the climate crisis, especially in promoting the use of clean and renewable energy. It has also invested a significant amount of money in the development of clean energy technology. As a result, it is the first country in the region to ratify the Paris Climate Agreement. In the past fifteen years, the UAE has invested $40 billion in clean technology.
The United Arab Emirates has also provided financial support to the UN and other non-governmental organizations. The UAE hosts several UN regional offices and has signed cooperation agreements with more than 28 UN agencies.
Several major meetings will be held during the UAE presidency. These include a ministerial-level debate on International Women's Day, as well as informal council talks on climate change.
The UAE will also chair the UN Security Council during its March term. According to the UAE's ambassador to the UN, the country will assume the presidency "during a time of global turbulence".
A key point of disagreement between the two countries has been the promotion of military-based strongman rule. However, a political source said that there was good chemistry at the leadership level.
One key factor that has raised concerns for Cairo is Abu Dhabi's aggressive interventionist policies. It was lobbying European countries to support such policies, and it also supported secular forces in Tunisia.
Some environmental groups and progressives have criticized Al Jaber's appointment. They have called for him to give up his role as head of the UAE's oil company.
But climate experts have questioned whether the UAE's investments will be enough to tackle the climate crisis. At the same time, UAE officials have argued that fossil fuels are a necessary part of the global energy mix. Therefore, the country needs to focus on developing hydrocarbons with the least carbon intensity possible.
COP28 is first "global stocktake" since landmark Paris Agreement
The UN climate change conference COP28 will end with the first global stocktake since the landmark Paris Agreement. A global stocktake is a review mechanism that will gather information about how nations are progressing towards their climate pledges. This will then be used to inform the next round of climate commitments in 2025.
The UN Secretary-General will convene a "climate ambition summit" in 2023 to assess the collective progress. Experts will conduct assessments of the remaining gaps. However, many governments are already doing their own assessments of the progress.
While COP27 did not progress commitments, there were some significant advances made on the subject of adaptation. For instance, countries pledged a further USD 230 million to the Adaptation Fund to assist vulnerable communities in coping with climate change. There is also the Forest and Climate Leaders' Partnership, which unites governments in taking action. It aims to half the forest loss by 2030.
Developing economies pushed for a dedicated fund to address the climate crisis for years. This new funding arrangement will provide money to the most vulnerable nations. In addition, the fund will include a "loss and damage" facility to help nations recover from climate-induced catastrophes.
As part of the process to develop this funding mechanism, a number of technical expert dialogues were held. These included an innovation finance model that monetises avoided emissions through carbon markets. Another event was a new collective quantified goal on climate finance, which will replace the current target of $100bn a year.
Developing economies argued that the current fund, which was to be implemented over the course of the next two years, was not enough. They urged for a new finance mechanism, such as a loss and damage facility, that would allow for recourses to be made in case of climate disasters.
However, wealthy nations and developing economies clashed over how to make the funds operational. For example, the US wanted to include language in the draft decision text requiring China to increase its emissions reductions by a greater percentage than the previous NDC. Mariam Allam, a negotiator for the African Group specialising in adaptation, was disappointed with the outcome of COP21.
UAE praises Al Jaber's climate credentials
The United Arab Emirates has appointed Sultan Al Jaber as President-Designate for the UN's climate change conference COP28 in November. This decision has been praised by the country's leadership, who cited al-Jaber's credentials in the climate field.
But it has also been criticized by a number of environmental groups. These critics have pointed out that Al Jaber's appointment could give the UAE's fossil fuel industry a free pass in global climate negotiations.
At a time when the Gulf region has been under pressure from Russia and other countries for blocking a proposal to phase out fossil fuels, the UAE's leadership has been calling for a realistic energy transition. During a climate conference in Egypt last year, the UAE's delegation was the largest of any nation. It was also the first in the Gulf to commit to a climate deal in Paris.
Although the UAE's decision is expected to raise the UAE's standing in the climate community, some are concerned about the role of the oil company in the negotiations. Climate activists argue that fossil fuel companies have taken the lead in the world's response to climate change and have therefore distorted the fight against emissions.
A number of environmental groups have called for Al Jaber to leave the oil industry before accepting the presidency of the COP. Climate activist Mithika Mwenda said that the talks were "being hijacked" by the fossil fuel industry. She also suggested that the country's decision could add pressure on Saudi Arabia, which has also been blocking a proposal to phase out fossil fuels.
According to a provisional list of the participants in the conference, the number of oil and gas representatives has increased by 25%. Global Witness said that this would be a "harsh blow" to the effort to cut down on fossil fuels. Other groups have warned that the selection of a UAE oil executive to head a global climate conference is a signal of long-running tensions between the UAE and Gulf nations.
The selection of a UAE oil executive to lead a global climate conference is likely to create a lot of confusion and uncertainty about the UAE's ability to deliver on its commitment to limit global warming. In addition to the controversy surrounding the appointment, some climate experts believe that Al Jaber will have a limited ability to lead negotiations.
Goals of COP28
The United Arab Emirates has been the first nation to welcome the Paris Climate Accords, and COP28 is an opportunity for the country to show its support for the goals of the agreement. They have also been a major player in global green energy initiatives, such as the Just Energy Transition Partnership, which has helped countries such as Indonesia and South Africa transition to cleaner energies.
With the goal of decarbonising the economy, the UAE is taking COP28 seriously. Their announcement to go carbon-free by 2050 is a bold move. They will be leading the world's first Global Stocktake of the Paris Agreement at COP28. This comprehensive evaluation of climate goals will help COP28 agree on a new pathway to 2030.
While COP28 will focus on climate change solutions and the economic case for them, it should also be a time for inclusivity. There should be a platform for all voices to be heard and all countries should have the opportunity to discuss their progress.
During COP27, a transitional committee was created to oversee the Loss and Damage Fund. This fund is aimed at helping low-income nations. At COP28, the Transitional Committee will discuss and make recommendations on how to operationalize the fund.
Agricultural innovation will also be a topic of discussion at COP28, as countries seek to expand recent gains in innovation. These include developing climate-smart agriculture techniques, improving agroecology, and helping smallholder farmers. Similarly, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization is creating a plan to cut emissions from the food and agriculture system.
Ultimately, COP28 will be a crucial step in making progress towards the 1.5 degrees Celsius global temperature limit set out in the Paris Agreement. It should also set a framework for a global goal on adaptation. That goal will ensure that governments and businesses have greater accountability for their actions and financing. Developing economies will need additional financing in order to reach that goal, and a global goal on adaptation should be a key component of a successful COP28.
In addition to the climate and ocean-based goals of COP28, the conference will also focus on issues relating to water security, equity, and food security. It will also be a chance to review the progress made at COP27 and assess whether all countries are meeting their targets.