COP28: Daunting Stakes and Pivotal Decisions on the Table ISPI's publications, Edito, November 2023
The UN climate conference in Dubai faces a moment of troubled geopolitical agenda lowering the focus on the climate emergency, but natural ecosystems will not wait for human decisions. A challenging test for the survival of diplomacy.
In a world of increased geopolitical fragmentation, wars, economic hardship, industrial and technological competition, for the international community focusing on climate change and the energy transition will not come as an easy task. Yet it is crucial and urgent for our collective survival. Against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine and the 2022 energy crisis, the issue of security, in all its forms, has grown to be central in international fora such as the G20 and to dominate domestic agendas. Energy security, but also food security, water and medicine security and defense are at the forefront of efforts, casting a shadow over the urgency of the climate crisis in the immediate term. At the same time, the acceleration of destructive weather phenomena at a current level of warming of 1.15°C above pre-industrial level has made it into the daily news headlines and raises concerns of whole areas becoming un-insurable and un-inhabitable, of decreasing agricultural yields, of accelerated environmental degradation and loss of biodiversity and, overall, of an open Pandora box unleashing all threats to human security and well-being. The world must come to the realization that for every bit of degree of global warming, the consequences will be increasingly dire and potentially even irreversible where tipping points are crossed. The 28th edition of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 28) is opening with the hard task of taking steps ahead on climate change and make a synthesis out of opposing views.
The Global Stocktacke: turning science into action
First stop on the agenda of the COP28 is the Global Stocktake, put in place by the Paris Agreement in 2015, which must reflect the progress made on holding the global temperature increase to well below 2°C and pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5°C. This is a moment of collective acknowledgement that the world is nowhere near to being on track to meet these objectives. Globally, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions should be reduced by -43% by 2030 and -60% by 2035, whereas in 2022 GHG emissions were still on an upward trend of +1.4% compared to 2021. Hence, this Summit must turn scientific knowledge into bold decisions on mitigation efforts. Among the initiatives on the table that could positively contribute there is the tripling of the share of renewable energies and doubling the energy efficiency by 2030, a focus on decarbonizing the power system, supporting the decarbonization of energy intensive industries, and stopping the addition of new coal power plants to the international energy system.
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