What happened at COP28?

Dr Liliana Fonseca (EPRC) had the honour of attending COP28 virtually as part of the University of Strathclyde’s delegation. Along with three other colleagues attending COP from different university departments and fields (law, business, education), Liliana shared some lessons from her participation in the event “What Happened at COP28?” organised on 18 January 2024 by the University of Strathclyde’s Stephen Young Institute.

Liliana’s key takeaways focused on a policy perspective on the significant outcomes and challenges witnessed during the global climate summit held in Dubai:

  1. Global Stocktake Insights and Identified Shortcomings: the inaugural Global Stocktake evaluated progress towards Paris Agreement goals, shedding light on areas where countries need to intensify their efforts. The discussion touched upon the complexity of approving these agreements, shedding light on disagreements and the draft text’s shortcomings, particularly concerning fossil fuel and coal power generation.
  2. Landmark Fossil Fuel Agreement and Implementation Challenges: In a groundbreaking move, COP28 saw the global acknowledgment of the need to phase down fossil fuels. Despite ambitious agreements, translating these pledges into concrete actions remains a formidable challenge. The need for countries to develop and implement robust policies to meet their climate goals emerged as a critical theme.
  3. Financial Commitments and Equity Challenges: COP28 witnessed heightened commitments to climate finance, particularly for adaptation and loss and damage. However, specific numbers, especially regarding post-2025 finance goals and long-term finance, were lacking. Concerns about equitable burden-sharing between developed and developing countries persisted, with a keen emphasis on the structural power dynamics of fossil fuel expansion versus renewable energy adoption.
  4. Greenwashing Allegations and Political Concerns: Accusations of greenwashing surfaced during COP28, pointing to the continued involvement of fossil fuel companies in negotiations. Transparency concerns arose as the UNFCCC released a detailed delegate list, exposing links to fossil fuels. Political concerns, including the Israeli-Gaza crisis and China’s significant presence, further underscored the intricate intersection of geopolitics, the power dynamics in energy, and climate action.
  5. European Policy Leadership and UK’s Stance: Leveraging Liliana’s expertise, the discussion showcased the leadership role of European policies in climate action. The European Green Deal’s commitment to phasing out fossil fuels was explored.
  6. UK’s Stance: During COP28, the UK took a leading role in driving the operationalization of the Loss and Damage Fund and advocating for a phased reduction of fossil fuels. Now, actions must align with Minister Stuart’s commitment, voiced during COP28, to “end the era of fossil fuels.” Given this stance, any further expansion of fossil fuels in the UK becomes untenable. To uphold the commitment made, the government is urged to reconsider decisions, specifically regarding the construction of the Rosebank oil field and the annual issuance of new North Sea oil and gas licenses.
  7. Regional Development and Just Transition Dynamics: Liliana delved into the critical link between regional development and climate action, emphasising just transition strategies. Valuable insights into the challenges and ongoing concerns regarding inclusivity and support for developing nations, as reflected in the discussions on the Just Transition Work Programme (JTWP) at COP28.
  8. Virtual Participation Dynamics and Future Considerations: With virtual attendance being inaugurated this year at COP28, and Liliana having had the opportunity to attend in this manner, she examined the impact of virtual participation on the COP28 discussions. The discussion highlighted the advantages of increased accessibility, especially for organisations and countries with low level of resources and capacity to attend in-person, and the need to refine virtual formats for future conferences, to further facilitate participation.

For more information, contact Liliana Fonseca.

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