COP28 Overview: Navigating the Milestones and Challenges of the 2023 Climate Conference

COP28 Overview: Navigating the Milestones and Challenges of the 2023 Climate Conference

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What Is Conference of Party (COP)?

  • COPs are gatherings under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), established in 1992.

  • They occur annually and are the primary global decision-making platform for addressing climate change.

  • COPs have nearly universal participation from countries worldwide.

Rotational Regional Hosting:

  • COP meetings take place in different regions, following a rotational schedule among five UN regional groups:

- African Group

- Asia-Pacific Group

- Eastern Europe Group

- Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)

- Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

  • This approach ensures diversity and inclusivity in addressing climate change issues.

India's Hosting of COP8:

  • India hosted COP8 in 2002, demonstrating the rotational hosting system.

  • COP8 provided a platform for countries to discuss strategies and commitments to combat climate change.

  • COP meetings are crucial for shaping international policies and actions against climate change on a global scale.


Kyoto Protocol (1997): COP summits produced the Kyoto Protocol, which established binding emission reduction targets for industrialized nations to combat global warming.

Paris Agreement (COP21, 2015): Adopted in Paris, the agreement aims to limit the global temperature increase to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, with efforts to cap it at 1.5°C.

COP28 Climate Summit Zones:

Blue Zones: This is the formal conference and negotiation space managed by UN Climate Change. It serves as the hub for official sessions, side events, and press conferences during the COP28 Climate Summit. This is where the key decision-making and negotiation processes take place.

Green Zone: The Green Zone at COP28 is an informal space dedicated to discussions among various stakeholders, including youth representatives, artists, businesses, and civil society actors. It focuses on generating ideas and initiatives for a net-zero future and often showcases innovative solutions and perspectives outside of the formal negotiations.

Key Highlights of COP 28 Climate Summit:

  • Geopolitical Context: COP28 gains significance against the backdrop of geopolitical risks, including the aftermath of the Israel-Hamas war and Russia's ongoing military operation in Ukraine. These events have added complexity to the global climate negotiations.

  • Health Focus: A historic moment occurred on December 3 at COP28 with a spotlight on the climate-health nexus. This is the first time in 28 years of climate change negotiations that health implications have received such prominent attention.

  • Role of Non-State Actors: The summit will examine the crucial role of non-state actors, such as businesses, cities, and civil society organizations, in addressing climate change. Their contributions and commitments are becoming increasingly vital in the fight against climate change.

  • Just Transition: There is a strong emphasis on ensuring a fair and equitable transition to a low-carbon economy. This focus highlights the importance of considering social and economic justice in climate actions and policies.

  • Innovation and Technology: Discussions at COP28 revolve around the role of innovation in addressing climate change and the effective transfer of technology. Finding and implementing innovative solutions is essential for achieving climate goals.

  • Global Stocktake: COP28 includes a "Global Stocktake" conducted over two weeks to assess progress in keeping global warming below 1.5°C with respect to the pre-industrial level. This stocktake helps identify additional measures required to meet climate targets and avoid catastrophic warming.

Themes of COP 28 Climate Summit:

  • Emissions Mitigation Targets: Nations will engage in negotiations to establish ambitious emissions reduction targets in line with the global temperature limit set during the 2015 Paris Conference.

  • Phase Down vs. Phase-Out: Debate may revolve around whether developed nations should advocate for an expedited phase-out of emissions, while developing countries, like India, grapple with the challenge of balancing energy security and emission reduction objectives.

  • Climate Finance: Controversies may emerge concerning financial support from developed to developing nations for climate mitigation and adaptation. Developing countries are seeking at least $200 billion annually by 2030 to address climate-related challenges.

  • Industry-led Solutions: Discussions at COP28 may center on harnessing industry-led innovations for sustainable development and reducing carbon footprints, emphasizing collaboration with the private sector.

  • Low-carbon Innovation: The conference will emphasize the importance of fostering low-carbon innovations and technologies to pave the way for a sustainable future and address climate change.

  • Progress on Paris Agreement: COP28 will evaluate progress in operationalizing various aspects of the Paris Agreement, including mechanisms for reporting and transparency in climate actions.

  • Reforming Private Sector Investment: The role of private sector investment in climate actions will be under scrutiny, with discussions on how to effectively mobilize private capital to address climate challenges and support sustainable development.

Highlighting the Key Points emphasized by the COP28 president-designate Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber:

Methane Emissions and Net-Zero Plans:

  • Encourages the oil and gas industry to eliminate methane emissions by 2030.

  • Advocates aligning operations with net-zero emission plans by 2050.

  • Recognizes the significance of reducing carbon intensity in hydrocarbon usage globally, acknowledging their continued consumption and contribution to methane emissions.

Inclusive Energy Transition and Climate Justice:

  • Highlights the crucial role of developing countries in the fight against climate change.

  • Advocates for an inclusive energy transition and climate justice to ensure equitable participation and progress for developing nations.

Maximizing Technology Adoption and Climate Finance:

  • Urges global efforts to prevent the exclusion of developing countries in technology adoption.

  • Calls for increased climate finance accessibility from public, multilateral, and private sectors to facilitate technology implementation and foster low-carbon economic development.

Renewable Energy Capacity and Hydrocarbons:

  • Advocates for a rapid increase in global renewable energy capacity, aiming for 11,000 GW by 2030 and doubling it again by 2040.

  • Recognizes the continued role of hydrocarbons as a bridge to a new energy system.

  • Emphasizes the need to reduce the carbon footprint and invest in low-carbon-intensive practices within the hydrocarbon industry.

Carbon Capture Technologies and Industrial Emissions:

  • Emphasizes the need for serious consideration of carbon capture technologies to achieve realistic net-zero emissions scenarios.

  • Calls for policy incentives to encourage technology companies to commercialize various carbon capture methods, contributing to emission reduction.

Breakthroughs in Battery Storage, Nuclear Energy, and Fusion:

  • Highlights the importance of advancing battery storage technology for integrating renewable energy sources.

  • Supports the expansion of nuclear energy and investment in innovative energy pathways like fusion.

  • Recognizes the significance of agricultural technology to address greenhouse gas emissions from food systems and agriculture.

What difficulties is India encountering during the COP28 Climate Summit:

Luxury Emissions:

  • India is urged to reduce "luxury emissions" from sectors like oil and gas and waste, contributing to methane emissions.

  • This request requires a careful approach considering its impact on various sectors and India's broader developmental goals.

Reluctance on Cooling Commitment:

  • India is reportedly hesitant to endorse a worldwide commitment to decrease emissions related to cooling during COP28.

  • The reluctance is due to India's concern for ensuring affordable cooling solutions in the world's most populous country.

  • Notably, the host of COP28, the United Arab Emirates, initiated the Global Cooling Pledge to enhance affordability for items like air conditioners and freezers, particularly in developing nations, while curbing emissions from the expansive cooling sector.

Loss and Damage Finance:

  • A recent assessment by CSE-Down to Earth reveals that India experienced almost daily extreme weather events in the first nine months of the year.

  • Consequently, India's primary focus at COP28 will be on securing "loss and damage finance."

Coal Dependence and Fossil Fuel Phase-out:

  • India's reliance on coal for power generation remains contentious.

  • Immediate shutdown proposals for coal-fired plants clash with India's emphasis on energy security, as about 73% of the country's electricity is coal-generated.

Emission Reduction Stance:

  • India rejects proposals to directly reduce emissions and instead frames climate actions in terms of emissions intensity (per unit of GDP).

  • Additionally, India opposes defining a peak or peak year for emissions.

Agricultural Emission Cuts and Food Security:

  • The agriculture sector contributes nearly 15% to India's annual emissions, posing challenges.

  • Agreeing to emission cuts in agriculture could impact cropping patterns and jeopardize India's food security, making it a potential point of contention at COP28.

Financial Support for Renewable Energy:

  • As India shifts to cleaner energy sources, securing financial support for green energy corridors and grid infrastructure development is crucial.

  • This aligns with the G20 New Delhi Leaders Declaration, which emphasizes the need for substantial funds.

PM Modi's COP28 Address:

"No New Commitments": Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not introduce new commitments to address the global rise in temperature in his COP-28 speech.

Hosting COP33 in India (2028):

  • Offered to host the 33rd edition of COP in India in 2028.

  • Urged developed countries to vacate carbon space before 2050.

  • This proposal, if accepted, would be India's second time hosting COP and requires approval from UNFCCC signatories.

Green Credit Initiative:

  • Advocated India's "Green Credit initiative" as a non-commercial effort.

  • Aims to establish a carbon sink and incentivize voluntary environmental actions across sectors.

  • Part of the global Green Credit scheme, generating credits for planting on unused lands to rejuvenate natural ecosystems.

India's Commitments from COP-26:

  • Reiterated commitments from COP-26, including reducing emissions intensity and achieving net-zero emissions by 2070.

Loss and Damage Fund:

  • Welcomed COP-28's approval of the Loss and Damage Fund, which received over $500 million in financial commitments.

Climate Investment Fund and New Climate Finance Target:

  • Appreciated the UAE's $30 billion Climate Investment Fund.

  • Called for the finalization of a new target on climate finance (NCQG).

Developed Countries' Commitments:

  • Emphasized the importance of developed countries fulfilling their commitments to the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and the Adaptation Fund.

  • Urged developed nations to work towards eliminating their carbon footprints by 2050.

Loss and Damage Fund Launch at COP28:

Announcement on Inaugural Day: On the first day of COP28 in Dubai, the official launch of a loss and damage fund to assist climate-vulnerable countries was announced, with an initial funding estimate of $475 million.

Contributions and Funding Sources: Contributions to the fund, announced during COP27, include:

  • $100 million from the host UAE.

  • $275 million from the European Union.

  • $17.5 million from the US.

  • $10 million from Japan.

Purpose of the Loss and Damage Fund: The fund aims to compensate nations grappling with climate crises attributed to global warming from industrial growth, affecting lives, livelihoods, biodiversity, and cultural traditions.

Scope of Loss and Damage: Loss and damage, as defined by Adelle Thomas of IPCC, encompasses:

  • Economic impacts such as infrastructure costs.

  • Non-economic impacts like trauma from cyclones or loss of community.

Climate Crisis Losses and Future Projections: Research indicates that in the last 20 years, 55 vulnerable countries suffered $525 billion in climate crisis losses, a figure expected to increase to $580 billion annually by 2030.

World Bank Oversight: Initially, the World Bank will oversee the fund, which will be financed by both rich nations and select developing countries. The scale and replenishment cycle of the fund remain unclear, but there is a recognized need for trillions of dollars.

Initial Hesitation and Acceptance: Initially, developing nations expressed hesitance about the World Bank's involvement in overseeing the fund, but they have since accepted the arrangement.

Way Forward:

Implement Fossil Fuel Transition: Swiftly enact policies to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and increase investment in renewable energy.

Fulfill New Pledges: Actively execute pledges made at COP28, focusing on emissions reduction, renewable energy, and integrating climate change with biodiversity efforts.

Boost Financial Support: Enhance financial and technical assistance to developing countries for climate action and transition.

Strengthen Legal Frameworks: Develop and enforce robust legal and regulatory frameworks to support climate goals.

Promote Global Collaboration: Encourage international cooperation and partnerships to share knowledge, technology, and best practices in climate mitigation and adaptation.

Advait IAS