COP28 calls for speeding up climate efforts

2023-12-01 10:09:59China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

UN conference aims to bridge finance gaps as temperatures reach record highs

The 28th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change officially kicked off in the United Arab Emirates on Thursday with a pressing call to accelerate collective climate action against the backdrop of a year that has seen temperatures breaching record levels and wreaking havoc on livelihoods.

After officially being announced as COP28 president, Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, in his opening speech in Expo City, Dubai, promised he would connect with and run an inclusive process of having free and open discussions around climate dialogue and action.

"This presidency is committed to finance to ensure the Global South does not have to choose between development and climate action," said Al Jaber, also UAE minister of industry and advanced technology. "Let this be the year that climate finance meets the magnitude of the moment. Let this be the COP where we deliver on our promises."

The aim of bridging the climate finance gap is also high on the agenda as Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs and COP27 President Sameh Shoukry, in his opening remarks as outgoing president, called it a worrying sign that needed to be tackled immediately and effectively by countries and international organizations.

This year's UN climate conference marks the conclusion of the "Global Stocktake", the first assessment of global progress in implementing the 2015 Paris Agreement, according to a United Nations news release on Wednesday.

It said the findings are stark — the world is not on track to limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees by the end of this century, a target as laid out by the Paris climate accord.

On Thursday, the World Meteorological Organization said 2023 data up to the end of October showed this year was already around 1.4 degrees above the preindustrial baseline.

However, the Global Stocktake assessment does recognize that countries are developing plans for a net-zero future, and the shift to clean energy is gathering speed, but it makes clear that the transition is nowhere near fast enough yet to limit warming within the current ambitions.

What began in last year's COP27"must now be delivered and actioned here in Dubai", said Al Jaber, adding that he wants COP28"to be the COP that maximizes on momentum mitigation".

He also said the UAE "is deeply proud to be hosting climate conference at a pivotal time".

The UAE has become the second Middle Eastern country to lead the UN climate summit after Qatar first hosted COP18 in 2012.

In his opening remarks, Simon Stiell, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, said this year "has been the hottest year ever for humanity".

"So many terrifying records were broken. We are paying with people's lives and livelihoods. We're standing at a precipice. Facing the Global Stocktake," Stiell said.

Stiell challenged everyone with what was going to happen in the next two years that would demand that countries submit their first Biennial Transparency Report and finance a massive shift with a new finance goal, adaptation and mitigation to be "in line with a 1.5-degree world".

"This will mean the reality of individual progress can't be concealed," said Stiell. "Please start working on them now."

COP28 is now the biggest Conference of Parties, with more than 70,000 delegates, including climate advocates, business leaders, climate scientists, youths and more than 160 world leaders, expected to take part in the two-week event running until Dec 12.

According to a report by UAE newspaper The National, more than 97,000 delegates have registered for the event.

"We have no choice but to go unconventional way," Al Jaber said. "I ask you all to work together, be flexible, find common ground, bring forward solutions and achieve consensus. And never lose sight of our north star of 1.5(degrees)."

Other key COP28 events include the World Climate Action Summit, which will be hosted by President of the UAE Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan with other heads of state or government on Friday and Saturday.

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