Expectations for COP 28 in Dubai

The 28th Conference of the Parties (COP 28) under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change will take place in Dubai from 30 November to 12 December 2023. International cooperation to address climate change is more urgent than ever, and climate conferences are attracting increasing numbers of participants and greater media coverage every year. What concrete progress can be made at this year’s conference?

Climate action put to the test

One focus of COP 28 is the first global stocktake. Countries will assess the global progress made to date towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and discuss recommendations for more ambitious climate action. Agreeing on ambitious and concrete targets will be particularly important. Many countries have signalled support for a goal of tripling global renewable energy capacity by 2030. In addition, an energy efficiency target by 2030 and further measures to reduce methane emissions are being discussed.

What role fossil fuels should still play in the future is a more controversial question. Some countries are calling for a complete phase-out of fossil fuels, while others insist that fossil fuels can continue to be used if CO2 is captured and stored underground.

Next to these global goals, it will be critical what concrete actions and measures countries take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Under the Paris Agreement, all countries have committed to drawing up new climate targets (Nationally Determined Contributions) over the coming year and submitting them in 2025. These new climate targets will shape emission pathways well into the 2030s. But it is equally important that emissions are significantly reduced in the coming years.

Support for developing countries

The adverse impacts of climate change affect people all over the world. However, people in developing countries are particularly at risk as they have fewer resources to adapt to the changing climate. At COP 28, developing countries will be calling for concrete results on enhancing adaptation, addressing loss and damage, and increasing financial support.

At the last conference in Sharm El-Sheikh, countries agreed to set up a fund for developing countries to address loss and damage caused by climate change. Concrete recommendations are now on the table as to how this fund should be operationalised. It is still unclear who will pay into the fund and how and to whom the money should be disbursed as a priority. The success of this year’s conference will depend on whether Parties will manage to agree on the specific arrangements for this fund. Which countries will make the first pledges to the fund is also eagerly awaited.

The conference will also discuss whether developed countries have fulfilled their earlier pledge to provide USD 100 billion annually in climate finance. A new OECD report suggests that this target has now been reached. The future need for climate finance is much higher though. The conference will therefore also lay the foundation for discussions on a higher climate finance goal for developed countries.

What is necessary, what is realistic?

As with many climate conferences, this year’s conference in Dubai will also face a large gap between what is needed and the actual progress in the negotiations. This is owed to the very different positions of more than 190 countries present at the climate conferences and to the fact that decisions have to be taken by consensus. The challenging global and energy policy context may also make it more difficult to reach agreements.

Next to ambitious decisions on the global stocktake and the operationalisation of the fund for loss and damage, a number of decisions on the further implementation of the Paris Agreement will be important. For example, the conference should adopt further rules on international carbon markets under the Paris Agreement. The main issue here is how trading of emission reductions between countries can be robustly tracked and accounted for.

COP28 can be considered a success if it delivers ambitious decisions in these areas. However, continued progress in addressing climate change will only be achieved if all countries implement these decisions through ambitious climate policies.

Lorenz Moosmann, Dr. Lambert Schneider and Dr. Martin Cames have been taking part in international climate negotiations for many years and are negotiators in the team of the European Union. They all work at Oeko-Institut’s energy and climate division in Berlin. Lambert Schneider is Research Coordinator for International Climate Policy. Martin Cames was head of the energy and climate division for a long time and now works as a Senior Researcher. Lorenz Moosmann has been researching transparency and reporting at EU and international level as a Senior Researcher for several years.

Publications on the COP:

Study "International climate negotiations - Issues at stake in view of the COP28 UN Climate Change Conference in Dubai and beyond" by the Oeko-Institut

Study "Transformative mitigation actions as an outcome of the Global Stocktake" by the Oeko-Institut

Blog posts on the past negotiations

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