Vague peace agreements and climate scientists’ calls to action: The 6 biggest stories from 3 December at COP28

Most world leaders have now left COP28, meaning attention is turning to the processes happening within the negotiation rooms for the final texts. Only a select handful of people are permitted to observe these official proceedings, so most of the tens of thousands of people at the Expo Centre today are here to explore the Green Zone, which just opened to the public, and to take part in side events and meetings.

Official events and declarations from the Presidency are also continuing, albeit not at the breakneck pace we’ve witnessed during the first few days. Today’s chosen themes for the Presidency’s agenda are health, relief, recovery and peace.

To help you recap all the action, this article rounds up all the major developments from 3 December at COP28.

You can find all of our COP28 coverage here.

COP28 Presidency hits back at calls for fossil fuel phase-out


Image: UNFCCC Flickr / Stuart Wilson

We start this roundup with some concerning news. The UAE COP Presidency has started the two week climate conference strongly, with a host of breakthrough funding announcements and ambition declarations backed by hundreds of nations.

However, news emerged on Sunday that COP28 President Sultan Al Jaber has hit back at suggestions that fossil fuels needed to be phased out – not down – to address the climate crisis.

As reported by the Guardian and the Centre for Climate Reporting, Sultan Al Jaber claimed that there was “no science” to suggest that fossil fuels strictly needed to be phased-out to meet the 1.5C pathway of the Paris Agreement.

Al Jaber was also reported to say that a phase out of oil and gas would not allow all parts of the world to grow sustainably, stating that some of the world would be taken “back into caves.”

Its worth noting that this is not a new conversation, it happened on 21 November during a discussion with Mary Robinson, the chair of the Elders group.

Climate scientists outline 10-point wishlist for policymakers


Image: UNFCCC Flickr / Amira Grotendiek

In stark contrast to Jaber’s comments, a group of influential climate scientists have stated that phasing out fossil fuels is one of the 10 crucial levers to combatting the climate crisis.

The 10 New Insights in Climate Science series of reports have been launched annually at COPs since 2017, in partnership with the UNFCCC. To mark COP28, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Simon Stiell (pictured) has worked with Future Earth, the Earth League and the World Climate Research Programme to outline the latest climate-related trends and how they should be responded to.

The new report, which represents the collective efforts of 67 leading researchers from 24 countries, outlines 10 key trends that need to be examined and ideally introduced by regional policymakers to respond to the climate crisis, ranging from fossil fuel phase-outs and an over-reliance on natural carbon sinks.

Simon Stiell, UNFCCC Executive Secretary said: “The 10 New Insights in Climate Science report provides an essential tool for decision-makers at a critical time in the climate calendar each year. Scientific findings from reports like these should inform the ambitious and evidence-based action plans needed in this critical decade of accelerated climate action.” 

Click here to see edie’s full coverage of the 10 points.

Declaration on Climate, Relief, Recovery and Peace launched


Image: UNFCCC Flickr/ Mahmoud Khaled

Another wide-scale declaration was endorsed by numerous countries at COP on Sunday. The Declaration on Climate, Relief, Recovery and Peace launched, backed by 70 governments and 39 organisations that pledged to offer immediate support to the most vulnerable countries and communities and those operating in fragile and conflict-affected settings to address climate shocks and stressors.

It bears noting that more than 190 nations are involved in the UN climate diplomacy process, meaning that the majority are not signed up. It is also worth flagging that the Declaration includes noting on reducing emissions from militaries, which generate 5.5% of annual global emissions.

As part of the Declaration, the Getting Ahead of Disasters Charter was also formalised, setting out principles for collaborative action to manage climate-related risks and protect vulnerable populations.

The COP28 Presidency, IGAD, and the UN also hosted presidents of countries in the Horn of Africa to introduce their regional climate security strategy. These form part of the Early Warnings for All, launched at COP27, to cover 100% of the globe with early warning systems by 2027.

Commenting on the Declaration, Ambassador Al Suwaidi, COP28 Director-General, said “Climate change impacts everybody but we are not all being affected equally. In fragile and conflict-affected settings, extreme weather events affect three times as many people annually compared to other countries. Despite this, people living in extremely fragile states receive a fraction – up to 80 times less – of climate finance compared to those in non-fragile states. The COP28 Presidency is committed to driving action and consensus to change this.”

Businesses and philanthropists allocate $5bn in climate and nature funding


Image: UNFCCC Flickr / Mahmoud Khaled

COP28 hosted a dedicated Business & Philanthropy Climate Forum on 1-2 December in a first for any COP.

The Presidency today confirmed that it convened more than 1,300 corporate leaders, philanthropists and multilateral development bank staff to discuss and forge efforts to mobilise funding for climate solutions.

Across the Forum, more than $5bn of funding on various climate and nature initiatives has been committed, including from the Green Climate Fund, Allied Climate Partners and Allianz Global Investors.

Additionally, private equity firm Investcorp launched a Climate Solutions Investment Platform, with $750m ringfenced for climate projects.

More than $100m was also mobilised by the likes of Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Bezos Earth Fund CIFF in partnership with Global Methane Hub to better improve methane data in order to help deliver projects that reduce methane emissions.

Special Representative for Business & Philanthropy and Chair of the COP28 Business & Philanthropy Climate Forum, Badr Jafar said:  “Governments simply do not have the available capital or capacity to make the climate transition on their own. To move from the billions we have to the trillions we need, we require urgent, unprecedented, delivery-focused public, business and philanthropic collaboration.

“The Business & Philanthropy Climate Forum represents a paradigm shift that recognizes this opportunity and connects diverse stakeholders together in a way that creates a multiplier effect on climate and nature impact. The private sector increasingly recognizes that embracing a sustainable and equitable future, leaving no one behind, is the growth story of our time.”

200+ civil society groups urge leaders at COP28 to transform public finance

Ahead of Finance Day at COP 28 (4 December), 221 civil society groups from more than 50 countries have sent an open letter to world leaders at COP28, calling on them to tackle climate change and spur the energy transition through public finance.

The letter, signed by the Bretton Woods Project, Oil Change International, Debt Justice, Power Shift Africa, Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development, and Climate Action Network International, urges heads of state to use COP28 to overhaul public finance rules, trades and taxes and to better utilise institutions like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) to combat the climate crisis.

The signatories note that phasing out fossil fuels and scaling up renewables in developing countries will cost around $1.7trn annually and that if rick countries were to pay their “fair share” of climate costs in the Global South, it would be almost $6trn a year. However, developed nations committed just $100bn a year in climate finance annually in 2015, and formal confirmation that this amount has been reached in any single year is still yet to come.

“Rich countries have returned to COP28 with a decades-old excuse: ‘we can’t afford it.’ But there is no shortage of public money available – it’s just poorly distributed, flowing to fossil fuels and the super-rich instead of shared priorities,” CAN-International’s executive director Tasneem Essop said.

“We need rich countries to pay their fair share for the climate and debt crises and support proposals for democratic control of our global financial rules and institutions. This will benefit all of us, freeing up trillions in public funding to build a renewable future where everyone can meet their needs.”

$1.7bn committed for forests and oceans


Image: COP28 Presidency

Also on Sunday, a plethora of new initiatives were launched, backed by more than $1.7bn in committed finance, in a bid to respond to the climate crisis by championing biodiversity.

Under these initiatives, the UAE will contribute $100m of new finance for nature-climate projects, with an initial $30m already ringfenced for nature and resiliency projects in Ghana.

The funding will be applied to the “Resilient Ghana” project, launched by Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo. A further $80m will be provided by Canada, Singapore, the United States of America and other private sector aligned initiatives such as the LEAF Coalition.

The Prime Minister of Tongo, Siaosi ‘Ofakivahafolau Sovaleni, also announced that $100m will be provided to Pacific Small Island Developing States (P-SIDS) from the Bezos Earth Fund for initiatives that protect 30% of the countries’ waters and exclusive economic zones by 2030.

Additionally, a group of philanthropies, including Bloomberg Philanthropies, Builders Vision and Oceankind, announced $250m under the Ocean Resilience Climate Alliance (ORCA), targeting protection for vulnerable marine areas, ocean-based mitigation efforts, and research on climate impacts.

France’s President Emmanuel Marco also confirmed $100m of forest initiatives in Papua New Guinea, $60m in the Democratic Republic of Congo and  $50m for the Republic of Congo. All funding will be used to conserve forests and drive verifiable carbon credit transactions.

Finally, the Asian Development Bank, along with the OPEC Fund, Saudi Arabia, AFD, France, and the ASEAN Catalytic Green Finance Facility at the Green Climate Fund, announced the Nature Finance Hub. The Hub is committed to mobilising $1bn from its partners and a further $2bn in additional private finance by 2030 into nature-focused climate projects.

Nations pledge to upskill ministers to create ‘climate capable governments’

Many policymakers attending COP28 may not be as clued into the green agenda as your average sustainability practitioner. In fact, research from online learning platform Apolitical found that 65% of public servants say they have not received any climate training and 73% say they would benefit from it.

Fortunately, Apolitical announced at COP28 that 10 government agencies have pledged to provide training for officials to develop climate-related skills.

It forms part of wider initiatives to build “climate capable governments” and includes representatives of Brazil’s Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, the government of the United Arab Emirates, the African Capability Building Foundation, Environment and Climate Change Canada and the UK’s Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).

Apolitical, backed by the Bezos Earth Fund has already provided more than 30,000 public servants in the US, Brazil, South Africa, and the United Arab Emirates.

You can find all of our COP28 coverage here.

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