Grupo de Referentes de Ecología de la CPAL
The third day of COP28 of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change marked the conclusion of the World Climate Action Summit (WCAS) where heads of state continued to deliver their statements. COP28 was held in Dubai, UAE from 30 November to 12 December 2023.
One of the notable statements came from David Choquehuanca Céspedes, Vice President of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, who strongly emphasized that “Indigenous People, the first people of Mother Earth, have never had to adapt to a world of imbalance and division…. Developing countries have prepared for a broad path for the developed countries that depend on our resources, and yet they trample on us and do not allow us to travel the path with them.” He reiterated that climate justice cannot be achieved without first understanding the life sciences.
From the Great Ocean States, Kausea Natano, Prime Minister of Tuvalu, spoke about the impacts of sea level rise facing island states that has now become their reality, and proceeded to endorse the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty. Mia Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados, welcomed the loss and damage fund, but cautioned that financial institutions need to be decapitalized. She also emphasized that adaptation needs to be part of the equation, stating that “for every dollar we spend before disasters occur, we save $7 in damages and, indeed, loss of life.”
“I am with you” are the forceful words of Pope Francis, spoken on his behalf by the Vatican’s Cardinal Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin. “I am with you because the destruction of the environment is an offense against God, it is a sin that is not only personal but also structural, that puts all human beings in great danger, especially the most vulnerable among us, and threatens to unleash conflict between generations. I stand with you because climate change is “a global social issue and intimately related to the dignity of human life.” The statement emphasized that multilateralism is the way forward, but not without confidence, and appealed to the assembled Parties to choose life and the future.
Negotiations in progress and agreements reached
In parallel to the WCAS, negotiations continued on the different COP28 work streams. One of the negotiations was the Informal Consultation held by the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SB 8) on the Global Stocktake. The process mainly involved Parties (countries) sharing contributions to improve the draft text on SB SBSTA 59 agenda item 8: Global Balance issues. Key points focused on closing the adaptation gap, such as doubling adaptation finance, and further articulation on maladaptation practices. Prior to the start of the session, observers in the room were asked to give up their seats due to lack of space for late arriving Party representatives.
Day 3 of COP28 also marked several key commitments, one of which is the Biden Administration’s commitment to reduce 80% of methane emissions by 2038. The COP28 Presidency launched the Oil and Gas Decarbonization Chapter (OGDC), a voluntary commitment to accelerate climate action and reduce methane emissions by 2030. More than 50 companies, representing over 40% of global oil production, have signed up to it but the OGDC was closely scrutinized by civil society groups and environmental advocates. Oil Change International stated that “OGDC is a dangerous distraction from the COP28 process” and that what is needed are legal agreements to reduce the burning of fossil fuels.
To further accelerate the global drive towards decarbonization, 118 countries have committed to triple renewable energy capacity by 2030. 22 countries have signed and launched the declaration to triple nuclear power by 2050 that “recognizes the key role of nuclear power in maintaining the scope of nuclear power. the goal of limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.”
This historic agreement was once again met with criticism. Masayoshi Iyoda, a 350.org activist from Japan, recounted the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011 and told The Guardian that “there is no room for dangerous nuclear power to accelerate the decarbonization needed to achieve the Paris climate goal…it is nothing but a dangerous distraction.”
An interfaith dialogue on integral ecology, loss and damage
In the Faith Pavilion, away from the main corridors, while WCAS and negotiations were taking place, religious actors at COP28 listened to a session on Integral Ecology Faith-based journeys: Strategies to overcome the technocratic approach to climate change facilitated by the Laudato Si’ Research Institute. The session heard how various religious communities practiced care for nature. Pope Francis in Laudate Deum highlighted how care for Creation is deeply rooted in all religious traditions and beliefs.
Catholic stakeholders then presented the document Loss and Damage: The Moral Case for Action signed by religious leaders from around the world. The statement emphasizes that to truly meet the needs of climate-vulnerable communities, the loss and damage fund must be accessible, comprehensive, restorative, efficient and effective.
Just transition and decarbonization
Within three days of the COP, historic agreements to reduce emissions were launched, contributions to climate finance were made and pledges were made to the Loss and Damage Fund. These are certainly positive steps and are welcome; however, an agreement to phase out fossil fuels has yet to be clarified.
Moreover, current energy pathways to decarbonization are dominated by green energy technologies. How extensive are the resources that need to be pooled to accelerate this path to decarbonization? So what does this imply most? It does not necessarily mean that the transition is just.
A truly just transition focuses on human rights and does not further compromise livelihood security or the natural environment. Much more can happen in the remaining 10 days; it is critical to be vigilant, remain engaged and hopeful.
This article is originally published in Spanish in the CPAL (Conferencia de Provinciales Jesuitas de América Latina y El Caribe) website, Conclusiones de la COP28. This article is also available in Spanish.