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COP28 from the Lenses of Parth Joshi: Seeking Sincerity Amid Diplomatic Theatrics

Photo Courtesy: Pixabay

The 28th UN Climate Conference (COP28) unfolded as a familiar spectacle of diplomatic theatrics, where the urgency of addressing climate change once again collided with the business-as-usual approach. The conference kicked off with seemingly landmark decisions, including the operationalization of the Loss and Damage Fund, backed by around US$ 800 million from developed nations. The result of the first Global Stocktake, a key outcome of the 2015 Paris Agreement, extended its discussions, eventually yielding the ‘UAE Consensus’ that marked the first UN climate deal to mention 'fossil fuels.'

Despite these developments, the reality check from the Global Stocktake revealed that the world is far from achieving climate targets. The data collected underscored the inadequacy of current climate actions, with the ominous conclusion that the world is nowhere close to limiting global warming below 2 degrees Celsius, let alone the more ambitious 1.5 degrees.

The Loss and Damage Fund, initially touted as progress, raised eyebrows with its US$ 800 million commitment, falling way short of the US$ 100 billion annually that the developed nations had committed to provide developing countries after the Paris Agreement. Adaptation finance discussions also fell short, with a much-weakened commitment to bridge the financial gap.

Climate finance, a long-standing issue since Paris, continued to follow the same pattern of indecision. The procrastination in setting a new collective quantified goal, now pushed beyond 2025, showcased a lack of urgency in providing adequate resources for climate initiatives. The discussion on carbon markets, governed by Article 6, continued to achieve challenges, with political disagreements hindering progress. The just transition concept acknowledged the socio-economic impacts of climate change but struggled to address systemic inequalities.

Concerns were raised about carbon sinks as well as carbon capture and storage, with many initiatives posing risks of greenwashing and ecosystem transformation. Nature conservation received limited attention, despite its potential as a solution, with investments in harmful activities far exceeding those in nature-based solutions.

Photo Courtesy: Pexels

On a slightly positive note, businesses showed increasing interest in climate initiatives, as exemplified by the UAE's announcement of the ALTÉRRA fund. However, the overall sentiment remained cautious, with hopes pinned on subsequent COPs for more substantial progress.

Amid the cynicism, some silver linings emerged, such as the inclusion of language on fossil fuels and the growing capacity of renewable energy. Adaptation secured a permanent seat at the table, emphasizing the role of science in shaping future climate policies.

The conference's outcome left an impression of incremental progress but underscored the need for more sincere and tangible actions to address the looming climate crisis. While striving to build momentum around the positive outcomes, we must ultimately call for an honest acknowledgment of humanity's role in climate change and the urgency for genuine response.

About the Author:

Parth Joshi is a Climate Reality Leader at The Climate Reality Project Foundation. He is also the National Livelihoods Specialist, SECURE Himalaya at UNDP. He is an enthusiastic expeditioner/ mountaineer, and a nature and wildlife photographer.

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