Hosted this year by the United Arab Emirates, a nation traditionally associated with fossil fuels, and with 2023 being the hottest year ever recorded, COP28 set a stage that was unprecedented and crucial.
Over 97000 people were present at this Conference of Parties to play their role in this fight against the climate crisis and shape the trajectory of humanity’s future. I had the privilege of being one of them. I was serving as the COP28 Communications Coordinator for YOUNGO, the official Children and Youth Constituency of UNFCCC, I found myself burying myself everyday into the nitty gritties of this global dialogue, taking up Press duties and even organising demonstrations via YOUNGO. COP28, being my first COP experience, on ground, I was determined to make it count.
From High Level Interviews with David Carlin, Head of Climate Risk and TCFD, UNEP, and the Al Gore, Former Vice President of the USA & Nobel Peace Prize Laureate to a daily news broadcast to COP28 Periodic Newsletter, the YOUNGO Communications Unit led the way to keep young people across the globe updated about the happenings at COP28 and showcased our commitment to amplifying the youth voice on a global stage.
As COP28 was slowly winding down, from the mighty number of 97000 people just a few thousand resilient individuals remained. Young people still refusing to be silenced, organised protests and actions, symbolising a united front against climate inaction. The fight against fossil fuels persisted. A standout moment was playing a role in the motion of solidarity to express our disapproval of the removal of the “Fossil Fuel Phase-Out” language from the negotiation text. In that moment, surrounded by like-minded individuals, I felt the power of collective action and the significance of our presence at COP28.
The aftermath of COP28 presents a mixed bag of outcomes. A definite win emerged with the inclusion of the words "Transition away from Fossil Fuel." However, the lingering gaps in ambition, concrete planning, and guidelines for climate finance disbursement remain glaring issues. Since COP28 began, we have witnessed over 12 climate-related disasters. This serves as a stark reminder that the climate crisis is not a problem for the future but of today whose immediate impacts can be felt in vulnerable regions worldwide.
As we reflect on the achievements and shortcomings of COP28, a definite win emerged with the inclusion of the words "Transition away from Fossil Fuel." However, the lingering gaps in ambition, concrete planning, and guidelines for climate finance disbursement remain glaring issues. The hope lies in nations following through on their commitments.
Looking ahead to COP29 in Baku, Azerbaijan, I am yet again hopeful for an agreement that embraces ambition, adheres to timelines and science, and ensures that no one is left behind.
Sagar believes that the enthusiasm he has witnessed during COP28, empowers his hope to see a better and greener world tomorrow.
Sagar Kalra is a Climate Reality Leader (batch 2023). Watch his video during COP28 here.