COP28 kicks off in Dubai amid urgency of global climate issues

2023-12-01 08:57:32Global Times Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download
Guests visit the China Pavilion of the 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28) in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, on November 30, 2023. Chinese delegation will host over 100 side events at the China Pavilion located in the

Guests visit the China Pavilion of the 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28) in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, on November 30, 2023. Chinese delegation will host over 100 side events at the China Pavilion located in the "Blue Zone" of the Expo City. (Photo/China News Service)

With the world watching, the 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has commenced in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates. Over the next two weeks, representatives from countries and organizations worldwide will gather to conduct the first global stocktake of climate action progress since the signing of the Paris Agreement, against a backdrop of record global temperatures and increasing climate disasters.

In an opening ceremony on Thursday afternoon, Sultan al-Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology of the UAE, officially took the symbolic gavel of presidency and assumed his role as COP28 President, succeeding Sameh Shoukry, the Egyptian foreign minister who chaired the previous COP27 in Egypt last year.

"We feel, as you feel, the urgency of the work, and we see, as you see, that the world has reached a crossroads. The science has spoken. It has confirmed that the moment is now to find a new road, wide enough for all of us. That new road starts with a decision on the global stocktake." Jaber said during the opening ceremony.

"I pledge that I will run an inclusive and transparent process - one that encourages free and open discussion between all parties," he noted. "We must look for ways and ensure the inclusion of the role of fossil fuels. I know there are strong views about the idea of including language on fossil fuels and renewable in the negotiations. We collectively have the power to do something unprecedented. In fact, we have no choice, but to go in very unconventional way. I ask you all to work together."

According to the UNFCCC, COP28 is an opportunity to identify global solutions for limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees, inform countries' preparations for revised and more ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions due by 2025, accelerate the green transition that is already happening and ultimately achieve the delivery of the Paris Agreement goals.

As the urgency of global climate issues intensifies, COP28 is estimated to draw over 70,000 representatives from across the globe.

On the opening day of the conference, the venue of the 2020 Dubai Expo was filled with COP28 signage, with posters on the walls proclaiming "Let us lead changes," "Unity, Act, Delivery," among other slogans. The atmosphere inside the Expo City in Dubai is both solemn and vibrant, with many delegates wearing their national traditional costumes.

As an environmentally focused meeting, the conference also adheres to eco-friendly principles. For instance, this year's event will not provide shuttle buses between the city and the venue but will offer free tram cards to attendees, encouraging all participants to travel green. Additionally, each participant has been given a water bottle that can be refilled at water stations scattered inside the venue.

China a bigger contributor

In the morning of the COP28 opening day, the opening ceremony of the China Pavilion, along with the event on Ecological Civilization and the Practice of a Beautiful China, commenced. The Minister of Ecology and Environment, Huang Runqiu, and China's Special Envoy for Climate Change Affairs, Xie Zhenhua, were in attendance.

In his speech, Xie stated, "In Dubai, we are willing to continue working with all parties to push the conference to send a positive signal for accelerated transformation and innovation in the critical decade ahead. We look forward to establishing an enhanced cooperation platform with milestone significance after the global stocktake, ensuring that the multilateral process is 'grounded in reality' and progresses steadily along the correct track of strengthening the convention, its protocols, and the implementation of the Paris Agreement."

Former UN Deputy Secretary-General Erik Solheim praised China's achievements in environmental improvement practices and diplomatic dialogues. "You can take great pride that China is now leading the charge, both from the diplomatic front in creating a green China and from the technological front in taking the tools for the green transformation," he said. "We have seen two great transformations in the last decade. One is the transformation that just brought developing countries to the forefront of the global conversation, and the other is bringing business to the forefront, not just diplomatic talks," he remarked.

It is understood that during the conference, the Chinese delegation will host over 100 side events at the China Pavilion located in the "Blue Zone" of the Expo City.

'Race to the top'

U.S. climate envoy John Kerry called for continued cooperation between the U.S. and China before the opening of the COP28 on Wednesday, according to Reuters. Following months of careful discussions, the two countries released a joint statement on climate change in November, which outlines several areas of collaboration, such as reducing coal consumption, curbing deforestation, and assisting poor countries, with a particular focus on further efforts to reduce methane emissions, the second most significant greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide.

Fred Krupp, president of the U.S.' Environmental Defense Fund, emphasized that climate change plays a unique role in uniting both the American and Chinese people, as well as their governments.

"The issue of climate change serves as a bridge because there is a universal benefit in addressing this critical problem. Moreover, there is a tremendous economic opportunity in tackling climate change," Krupp told the Global Times on Thursday during the COP28.

Krupp pointed out that the current economic opportunities are fostering a friendly competition to see who can capitalize on the burgeoning green market. He also lauded China's significant contributions to the global supply of solar panels and batteries, noting that this has been a boon for the climate and has spurred a "race to the top."

Reflecting on historical ties, Krupp mentioned, "The mutual interests in solving the issue of climate change are so compelling that it could be the one issue that reunites our nations, much like the ties established during President Nixon's visit to China and the Ping-Pong diplomacy of the 1970s."

Krupp unveiled that a meeting involving China, the U.S., and the UAE is expected to take place in the coming days at COP28, with methane reduction poised as one of the areas of cooperation.

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