Countries face uphill groundwork task for crucial climate talks

Published October 30, 2023
Aerial view of an area covered with fog in Villa Maria del Triunfo district, in the southern outskirts of Lima, taken on October 7, 2023. — AFP
Aerial view of an area covered with fog in Villa Maria del Triunfo district, in the southern outskirts of Lima, taken on October 7, 2023. — AFP

PARIS: Facing record-shattering temperatures and a geopolitical tinderbox, countries are scrambling to lay the groundwork for crucial UN climate talks next month tasked with salvaging global warming goals laid out in the landmark Paris deal.

About 60 ministers from across the world are expected in Abu Dhabi over next two days to drive momentum for the crucial UN’s COP28 summit, scheduled to take place between Nov 30 and Dec 12, according to The National.

The ministers will meet to grapple with flashpoint issues, including the future of fossil fuels and financial solidarity betw­een rich polluters and nations most vulnerable to the devastating impacts of climate change, weeks before world leaders at the summit will have to respond to a damning progress report on the world’s commitments under the Paris Agreement.

The 2015 deal was aimed to limit global warming to well below two degrees Celsius since the pre-industrial era and preferably a safer 1.5C, but the results are already in with the world being far off track.

COP28 summit expected to be biggest ever, with ‘80,000 attendees’

“The challenge we face is immense,” incoming COP28 president Sultan Al Jaber acknowledged in October.

This year has seen a catalogue of climate extremes and the highest global temperatures in human history, stoked by the El Nino weather phenomenon that is warming temperatures.

Fossil fight

The climate talks are expected to be the biggest ever, with predictions of 80,000 attendees.

“The risk is that we will be sold a whole raft of declarations and side coalitions,” said Lola Vallejo, of the Institute for Sus­tainable Development and International Rela­tions.

Rich polluters are under pressure to finally meet their promise to provide $100 billion in funding by 2020 for poorer nations to prepare for climate extremes and fund the energy transition.

An agreement to help vulnerable countries cope with climate “loss and damage” is also a key point of contention.

The flagship achievement of last year’s COP27 in Egypt, it was mired in disagreement during recent talks to flesh out the details — like who pays, how much and the fund structure.

But the biggest tussle is likely to be over weaning the world off coal, oil and gas — the main drivers of global warming.

Published in Dawn, October 30th, 2023

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