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COP28-UAE: First-ever global stocktake & varied initiatives aligned for Climate Summit

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The 28th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28) looms as the United Arab Emirates prepares itself to host this monumental event in Dubai. Set to kick off from November 30 to December 12, the organizers have highlighted the upcoming conference as a watershed moment, emphasizing its pivotal role in steering global efforts to combat climate change. Pre-sessionals for the United Nations Climate Change Conference are set to commence on November 24 and run until November 29, paving the way for the main event.

Unveiling the Context of COP
At its core, the Conference of the Parties operates as the primary decision-making body under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Composed of representatives from 197 countries committed to the UNFCCC, the COP scrutinizes the efficacy of measures taken by the Parties to curb climate change. The UNFCCC, established in 1995, endeavors to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations, shielding the climate system from human-induced interference. Gathering annually, these COP meetings serve as critical checkpoints in assessing progress toward the overarching goal of curbing climate change. Significantly, past meetings have birthed transformative agreements, such as the impactful Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement.

COP and the Paris Agreement
The historic Paris Agreement, a product of COP21 in 2015, remains a cornerstone in the fight against climate change. Binding nations together, it commits nearly all countries to limit the rise in global average temperature to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius, preferably 1.5 degrees Celsius, above pre-industrial levels. Further pledges encompass enhancing adaptation capacities, aligning financial flows with low greenhouse gas emissions, and committing to a net-zero trajectory.

Participation and Regional Representation
Participants at COP include government delegates and observer organizations, managed under the United Nations umbrella. The 197 Parties to the UNFCCC are broadly categorized into five regional groups: Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Western Europe and Other States. Traditionally, the rotation of the COP presidency and host country shifts among these regional groups. UAE, as the COP28 host, assumes the presidency of this year and Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber is the President Designate.

The Conference of the Parties (COP) also serves as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA). Every country that has ratified the Paris Agreement is represented at the CMA, while non-parties can participate as observers. The CMA is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the Paris Agreement and making decisions to promote its effective execution. Aligned with COP28 are the 18th Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 18) and the 59th sessions of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI 59) and the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA 59).

COP28 Objectives and the Global Stocktake

The Global Stocktake, a critical component of the Paris Agreement, aims to evaluate the global response to the escalating climate crisis every five years. The first-ever Stocktake, is scheduled to happen this December at COP28. By evaluating where the world stands when it comes to meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement and using its inputs, the stocktake can help policymakers and stakeholders strengthen their climate policies and commitments in their next round of Nationally Determined Contributions. By the end of COP28, countries must agree on how they will leverage the Stocktake’s findings to keep the global goal of limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees C alive and address the impacts of climate change.

The COP28 agenda outlines a comprehensive framework encompassing diverse themes and initiatives aimed at catalyzing global action to combat climate change. It comprises several key elements:

World Climate Action Summit
The World Climate Action Summit brings together heads of state and government, leaders from civil society, businesses, youth representatives, Indigenous Peoples’ organizations, frontline communities, scientists, and other sectors. Their collective aim is to deliberate on actionable plans for scaling up climate action. Serving as a platform for major announcements, this summit is poised to provide crucial momentum and guidance throughout COP28. The WCAS summit is the pivotal point for COP28 and is set to happen on Dec 1st.

Health, Recovery, and Peace
Marking a novel inclusion in COP proceedings, these themes seek to bolster policies and investments that safeguard lives, livelihoods, and community resilience. COP28 will debut Health Day and a climate-health ministerial, aimed at fostering consensus on priority actions for the health sector’s response to climate change. Simultaneously, Relief, Recovery, and Peace Day will focus on expediting adaptation efforts, addressing loss and damage, especially in fragile and conflict-affected areas, and strengthening climate action.

Technology & Innovation, Inclusion, Frontline Communities, and Finance
These interconnected themes spotlight the role of technology, inclusive practices, support for frontline communities, and financial mechanisms in advancing climate goals.

Indigenous Peoples Day
This dedicated day acknowledges the invaluable contributions of Indigenous Peoples in climate action and planetary health stewardship. It aims to enhance their direct access to finance and recognizes their intergenerational knowledge and leadership.

Local Leadership Engagement & Youth Empowerment
COP28 will witness a historic presence of local leaders, comprising mayors, governors, parliamentarians, business leaders, and civil society representatives. This collective effort is geared towards accelerating climate action across all governance levels and societal strata. An emphasis on empowering youth to shape the outcomes of COP28 acknowledges their unique vulnerabilities to climate change. This includes equitable representation, strengthened engagement mechanisms, and resource allocation.

Nature-Centric Development
Focus will also be directed towards transitioning land use and ocean systems to support climate-aligned and nature-positive development. This involves scaling up robust solutions that protect, restore, and manage natural ecosystems while empowering Indigenous Peoples and local communities to create resilient livelihoods. Efforts spotlighting the implementation of this recent Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework I,aimed at halting and reversing nature loss, will be showcased.

Finance as a Crucial Theme
Finance emerges as a pivotal cross-cutting theme intricately intertwined with climate transition and adaptation. Issues encompass water and food security, youth empowerment, gender equity, trade dynamics, renewable energy, and a resilient relief system.

With COP28 on the horizon, the world stands at a critical juncture in the fight against climate change. The outcomes expected from this conference are anticipated to wield a profound impact on the global community’s ability to meet the ambitious goals outlined in the Paris Agreement. This gathering in the UAE signifies the collective commitment required to navigate the intricate challenges posed by climate change and forge a sustainable future for all.

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