Ruth Townend

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A delegate walks outside during the United Nations' COP28 climate talks at Expo City in Dubai on December 12, 2023. (Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP via Getty Images)

If COP28 started with the bang of a landmark agreement on loss and damage, it ended with a cacophony over the ‘UAE Consensus’ on the Global Stocktake (GST). Hailed as groundbreaking by hosts the UAE and criticized as insufficient by climate vulnerable groups such as the alliance of small island states (AOSIS), the agreement is in fact both.

The context for this duality is the slow speed of climate action to date. COP28 marked the first conference in which any explicit reference to moving away from ‘fossil fuels’ has made it into the final decision text.

This long-overdue achievement follows considerable shifts among the public and businesses, as understanding of climate change and rhetoric on climate action are increasingly mainstream, and climate impacts grow more severe.…  Seguir leyendo »

Walking under an array of potted succulent plants in the Green Zone of the UNFCCC COP27 climate conference in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Loss and Damage fund is a historic moment

Anna Aberg

COP27 will go down in history as the UN climate change conference where the Loss and Damage fund was agreed. After decades of pushing, this is a momentous victory for climate-vulnerable developing countries.

The shift in the conversation – and in the positions of developed countries – since COP26 is remarkable. It is critical parties continue to build on the positive momentum created in Sharm as challenging discussions on how the new loss and damage fund will work – and who will contribute to it financially – ensue.

Tim Benton

Overall COP27 was a hectic, sometimes chaotic, event that advanced some matters but left others trailing behind where they need to be to drive ambition towards the sort of climate action required to keep alive the possibility of restricting climate change within the envelope of the Paris agreement.…  Seguir leyendo »

Climate protest march in Brussels, Belgium ahead of the start of COP27 in Egypt. Photo by Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images.

Although global attention on COPs fluctuates from year to year, ultimately all of them are important, even those where big decisions are not expected. One of the reasons for this is that the coming together of all parties can act as push mechanisms for new political leadership on climate to emerge, in sometimes unexpected ways.

At COP26, the US turnaround on climate following the election of President Joe Biden provided hope and momentum. For COP27, it appears likely Brazil’s president-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil could be the star attraction, with the potential to inject new urgency into the process.…  Seguir leyendo »

The flooded bank of the Rhine river in Cologne, Germany in 2021. Photo: Ying Tang/NurPhoto/Getty Images.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has published the third – and final – report in its Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) triad on the state of climate change and the world’s response.

The first report, on climate science, was published in the run up to COP26 last year. The headline ‘Code Red for Humanity’ resonated across a world reeling from an unprecedented pandemic, wildfires and flooding across the affluent Global North.

But, just a few months later, amid the first days of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the second report on adaptation barely registered with the media despite being called ‘an atlas of human suffering and a damning indictment of failed climate leadership.’…  Seguir leyendo »

In London, a girl fills out details into ration books prior to their distribution at the beginning of the Second World War on 12 October 1939. Photo: Gerry Cranham/Fox Photos/Getty Images.

Current global climate action is starkly insufficient. Across the world, government plans leave the planet way off course for limiting temperatures to 1.50C, with gaping chasms between what governments say they will do, the policies being made and the implementation of these policies.

The First and Second World Wars, the Great Depression, the AIDS epidemic and the COVID-19 pandemic are all global crises which governments have responded to urgently with both public behavioural interventions and critical structural changes.

What then, can we learn from previous crises about what a truly urgent response to climate change should look like?

Engaging the public

Public information is often used in crisis situations.…  Seguir leyendo »

Empty chairs are left on stage as negotiations continue on the last day of COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland. Delegates from around the world attempt to agree on the final text of the COP26 agreement. Photo: Getty Images.

Following the emotion and exhaustion of COP26, momentum behind global climate action is gathering again. Speaking at Chatham House last month, COP26 President, Alok Sharma, gave a clear message: ‘Unless we honour the promises made, to turn the commitments in the Glasgow Climate Pact into action, they will wither on the vine.’

Sharma recently travelled to Egypt to meet with Egyptian Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry, who Egypt has chosen as its president designate for COP27, as well as to the UAE, host of COP28 in 2024. Meanwhile, US Climate Envoy, John Kerry, hosted a Major Economies Forum (MEF) on Energy and Climate last week, bringing together ministers from countries representing 80 per cent of GDP, population and greenhouse gas emissions in order to ‘foster closer collaboration between leaders’.…  Seguir leyendo »

UK president for COP26 Alok Sharma reacts during his concluding remarks at the 2021 COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow. Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images.

Overall verdict is not enough done

Professor Tim Benton

Not enough has been done at this meeting to reduce emissions consistent with avoiding dangerous climate change in decades to come.

There have been lots of pledges and the launching of encouraging new international initiatives, some more meaningful than others. But genuine urgency and a willingness to match words with action and to close the yawning gap between pledges and detailed, short-term plans is still missing.

Governments need to move forward from this summit with renewed determination to cooperate, urgently build on what’s been agreed here, and strengthen their nationally-determined contributions (NDCs) in the next year, while providing the finance that poor countries and vulnerable populations need.…  Seguir leyendo »

Red Rebel Brigade, an international performance artivist troupe, perform outside the 2021 COP26 UN Climate Summit in Glasgow. Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images.

As COP26 kicked off, Greta Thunberg accused world leaders of ‘pretending’ in Glasgow, while developing countries’ opening statements were clear – enough of the big talk and empty promises, no time for showmanship remains. The task at hand is one of delivery, nothing less will avert the greatest human tragedy of all time.

Statements by the Republic of Maldives and other climate vulnerable developing countries during the World Leaders Summit underscored what is really at stake with brutal, heart-wrenching clarity. ‘If the rise in temperature remains unchecked at 1.5 and jumps to two degrees, that is a death sentence to the Maldives’.…  Seguir leyendo »