COP28: Experts express concerns amidst ongoing climate negotiations in Dubai

As the conclusion of the ongoing 28th meeting of the United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP28) draws closer, concerns from relevant climate justice advocates and parties negotiators have continued to pour in over perceived “unfavourable language usage in daily negotiations text” emanating from the negotiation rooms.
Several climate advocates who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES in Dubai have also expressed mixed feelings over perceived political theatrics of COP28 organisers and highly influential countries (Big polluters) globally.
In the midst of this, climate change analysts and advocates on the ground have posited that negotiators must work towards the strongest possible outcome to protect vulnerable communities whose lives are threatened by the continued extraction of oil, gas, and coal.
Concerns emanating from the negotiation rooms
With less than five days to the end of COP28 in Dubai, emerging concerns springing from the negotiation rooms on Global Stocktake text released Friday evening has been lack of equity and fairness to the demands of developing countries with regards to phasing out of fossil fuel.

“The release of the third iteration of text on the Global Stocktake saw a vital recognition of the increased momentum from Parties on the imperative to end the world’s reliance on oil, gas, and coal, but crucially still falls short on issues of fairness,” said Gabrielle Levy, Associate Director, Communications Campaigns Strategies at Climate Nexus.
She hinted that the text, sent to ministers on Friday evening acknowledged momentum by including options that entail a full phaseout of all fossil fuels in line with the best science.
However, she explained that it does not include language on the need for equity by requiring developed countries to phase out first, or that financial support is needed for developing countries to undertake a clean energy transition.
“Developing countries have been clear that differentiated phaseout timelines and funding are essential prerequisites for them to agree to text on a fossil fuel phaseout,” she noted.
Similarly, Ms Levy highlighted that there are also much weaker options for a phaseout caveated with the term “unabated” which promotes dangerous distractions such as carbon capture (CCS).
This is perceived to possibly open the door for continued fossil fuel expansion, or are not economy-wide, so will simply fail to deliver on the ambition demanded by science.

“There remains an option of no text at all,” she added.
The climate analysts say despite calls for wording on a fossil fuel phaseout from 80 countries, the 2022 Sharm El Sheikh Implementation Plan failed to even mention any reduction in the use of oil and gas, merely calling for “accelerating efforts towards the phasedown of unabated coal power.”
“The bar was set even higher this year, with more than 100 countries from Africa, the Caribbean, the Pacific Islands, and the European Union calling for phaseout language to be included in the COP28 decision,” Ms Levy noted.

Global Stocktake
This year’s summit is expected to conclude the first-ever global stocktake. According to the UNFCCC, the global stocktake is a process for countries and stakeholders to see where they are collectively making progress towards meeting the goals of the Paris Climate Change Agreement – and where they are not.
The Global Stocktake text being deliberated at the ongoing COP28 is expected to provide the blueprint for countries to develop their 2025 Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) at this critical time.

Climate change negotiation analysts say it must jumpstart the just and equitable transition, sending the signal to governments and markets to rapidly scale up investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency.
They also say it must immediately halt investments in new fossil fuels and wind down existing projects, be clear on the need for developed countries to phase out first, and provide sufficient finance and technical support from developed countries and the private sector to developing countries to facilitate their transition.

Experts speak
In an interview with PREMIUM TIMES, Nnimmo Bassey, the executive director of Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) said COP28 has not pulled any surprises.
“First of all we had doubts about the COP when an oil executive was chosen to be the president for the COP,” he said.
That, he said, sends a signal that the best they will get from the negotiations would be ways of keeping fossil fuels alive while highlighting false solutions such as carbon trading.
“The COP has turned out to be an expo, a trade fair in which government officials run about looking for parcels of African lands to sell off to corporations or governments from elsewhere for carbon-carbon credit earnings,” he lamented.
On her part, Thuli Makama, Africa Director at Oil Change International, said she has observed that people are really concerned about the climate crisis, hence they are becoming not just impatient but very desperate for real solutions.

READ ALSO: Climate Change: Critical issues as COP28 begins in Dubai

“The COP we are in is the 28th. Many pledges and promises and people are calling for real implementation of all the promises that have been made over the years,” she said.
She said one of their main concerns at COP is that whatever solutions the world leaders are pushing in Dubai if they are not addressing the source of the pollution and the climate crisis (fossil fuel industries), there won’t be any meaningful progress.
“The call that we are here for is for the phaseout of fossil fuel, fast, fair and fully funded so that people can start recovering and adapting from whatever is left of in their lives,” she said.
Similarly, at the ongoing COP28, Kwami Kpondzi, a climate justice activist from Togo, said what shocked him the most is the $17 million loss and damage pledge made by the US at the opening plenary of the summit last Thursday.
He said the amount pledged is nothing compared to what (destruction) they are doing to the planet.
Mr Kpondzi said Africa is pushing for a real solution to be adopted by the world leaders at the summit.

“The real solutions are Agro ecology, community forest management and also the renewable energy,” he said.
What’s going on in Dubai?
As COP28 is edging towards its conclusion, the COP28 President, Sultan Al-Jaber, has tasked ministerial pairs to work with the parties to drive consensus and find bridging language and proposals over the remaining days of COP28.
Some of the ministers and issues involved are:

• Global Stocktake (GST): Barbara Creecy (South Africa) and Dan Jorgensen (Denmark)
• Mitigation: Grace Fu (Singapore) and Espen Barth-Eide (Norway)
• Adaptation: Maisa Rojas (Chile) and Jennifer McAllister (Australia)
• Means of Implementation: Yasmin Fouad (Egypt) and Steven Guilbeault (Canada)
It was also gathered that that the Canadian Minister of Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault was also asked informally by the presidency to help find landing zones on the role of fossil fuels that is acceptable to all parties. It overlaps in roles that could help to connect investment and mitigation ambition and implementation.
Meanwhile, the COP presidency announced it will convene a “Majilis” from 10 December, combining the ministerial and heads of delegation (HODs) consultations.
Sources familiar with the matter said several parties taking the floor after this announcement stressed the importance of avoiding parallel tracks to ensure ministers could be accompanied by their technical experts and be able to make the case for their priorities in all rooms (LMDC, G77+C) and called for no closed rooms.
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