Making water the engine for climate action

Much progress has been made on water security over recent decades, yet for the first time in human history, our collective actions have pushed the global water cycle out of balance. Water is life: it is essential for health, food, energy, socioeconomic development, nature and livable cities. It is hardly surprising that the climate and biodiversity crises are also a water crisis, where one reinforces the other. Already, a staggering four billion people suffer from water scarcity  for at least one month a year and two billion people lack access to safely-managed drinking water. By 2030, global water demand will exceed availability by 40 percent. By 2050, climate-driven water scarcity could impact the economic growth of some regions by up to 6 percent of their Gross Domestic Product per year.

Meike van Ginneken, Water Envoy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

Right now, the world’s first Global Stocktake is assessing the progress being made toward the goals of the Paris Agreement and global leaders are convening at COP28 in Dubai to agree on a way forward. We have a critical opportunity to catalyze global ambition and recognize that water is how climate change manifests itself. While wealthier, more resilient nations may be able to manage the devastating impacts of climate change, these same challenges are disastrous for lesser developed, more vulnerable communities.

Rainfall, the source of all freshwater, is becoming more erratic. Changes in precipitation, evaporation and soil moisture are creating severe food insecurity. Droughts trap farmers in poverty, as the majority of cultivated land is rain-fed. Extreme drought reduces growth in developing countries by about 0.85 percentage points. Melting glaciers, sea-level rise and saltwater intrusion jeopardize freshwater supplies. Floods destroy infrastructure, damage homes and disrupt livelihoods. The 2022 Pakistan floods affected 33 million people and more than 1,730 lost their lives, while 2023 saw devastating floods in Libya among other places.  

Now more than ever, it is urgent that we work together to make water the engine of climate action. Already, many countries are investing in technology and climate-resilient water infrastructure. Yet, we need more than technology and engineering to adapt to a changing climate. To advance global water action, we must radically change the way we understand, value and manage water with an emphasis on two necessary measures.

First, we need to make water availability central to our economic planning and decision-making. We need to rethink where and how we grow our food, where we build our cities, and where we plan our industries. We cannot continue to grow thirsty crops in drylands or drain wetlands and cut down forests to raise our cattle. In a changing climate, water availability needs to guide where we undertake economic activity.

In a changing climate, water availability needs to guide where we undertake economic activity.  

Second, we must restore and protect natural freshwater stocks, our buffers against extreme climate events. Natural freshwater storage is how we save water for dry periods and freshwater storage capacity is how we store rainwater to mitigate floods. 99 percent of freshwater storage is in nature. We need to halt the decline of groundwater, wetlands and floodplains. But our challenge is not only about surface and groundwater bodies, or blue water. We also need to preserve and restore our green water stocks, or the water that remains in the soil after rainfall. To reduce the decline of blue water and preserve green water, we need to implement water-friendly crop-management practices and incorporate key stakeholders, such as farmers, into the decision-making process.

Addressing the urgency of the global water crisis goes beyond the water sector. It requires transformative changes at every level of society. National climate plans such as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and National Adaptation Plans are key instruments to make water an organizing principle to spatial, economic and investment planning. Much like the Netherlands did earlier this year when the Dutch parliament adopted a policy that makes water and soil guiding principles in all our spatial planning decisions. Right now, about 90 percent of all countries’ NDCs prioritize action on water for adaptation. NDCs and National Adaptation Plans are drivers of integrated planning and have the potential to unlock vast investments, yet including targets for water is only a first step.

To drive global action, the Netherlands and the Republic of Tajikistan co-hosted the United Nations 2023 Water Conference, bringing the world together for a bold Water Action Agenda to accelerate change across sectors and deliver on the water actions in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement. To elevate the agenda’s emphasis on accelerating implementation and improved impact, the Netherlands is contributing an additional €5 million to the NDC Partnership to support countries to mitigate the impacts of climate change, reduce water-related climate vulnerability and increase public and private investments targeting water-nexus opportunities. As a global coalition of over 200 countries and international institutions, the NDC Partnership is uniquely positioned to support countries to enhance the integration of water in formulating, updating, financing and implementing countries’ NDCs.

One example showcasing the importance of incorporating water management into national planning comes from former NDC Partnership co-chair and climate leader, Jamaica. Jamaica’s National Water Commission (NWC), one of the largest electricity consumers in the country, mobilized technical assistance to develop an integrated energy efficiency and renewables program to reduce its energy intensity, building up the resilience of the network, while helping reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. With additional support from the Netherlands, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), together with Global Water Partnership (GWP)-Caribbean, the government of Jamaica will ensure the National Water Commission is well equipped for the future. Implementation of climate commitments and the requisite financing to do so are key to ensuring targets like these are met.

Water has the power to connect. The Netherlands is reaching out to the world.

Water has the power to connect. The Netherlands is reaching out to the world. We are committed to providing political leadership and deploying our know-how for a more water-secure world. As we look towards the outcomes of the Global Stocktake and COP28, it is essential that we make water the engine of climate action. 



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COP28 Summit and India | Is climate fatigue setting in?

COP28 Summit and India | Is climate fatigue setting in

We are half way through the CoP28 being held in Dubai – with half a million registrations, 77,000 delegates, 189 countries– that will end next week. Many controversies have roiled the UAE Presidency, but they have also been able to clear quite a few agreements. 

  1. Loss and Damage Fund: This was something held over from CoP27 in Sharm El Sheikh last year, proposed by the G-77 in order to help the world’s most climate vulnerable countries. Around $450 million have been committee so far, including $100mn each from UAE and Germany, $145mn from EU, $50 mn from UK and $17mn from the US, to set up the fund to be managed by the World Bank 
  2. Global Stock Take: This will be the first CoP Global Stock Taking exercise (GST) to see how the world’s actions in the past few years measure up against the Paris CoP 21 agreement in 2016. 
  3. Green Pledge: CoP 28 also has cleared a Global Renewables and Energy Efficiency Pledge, which aims to triple renewable-energy generation capacity by 2030 and calls for an end to new investments in coal- significantly India didn’t sign on this. 
  4. Health Pledge: On the first Health Day at COP28, global leaders united in endorsing the health and climate change declaration, sounding the alarm on the severe health implications of climate change. India did not sign on to this either 
  5. Climate Finance: This CoP hopes to sort out the definition and mechanics of delivering $100bn in Climate finance by OECD countries, a pledge that was made in 2009, and was due to start in 2020, but has not been kept so far. 
  6. Fossil Fuel: The role of fossil fuels is being hotly debated in the CoP- particularly as big consumers and big economies China and India are against any curtailment of its planned development- at present the final draft is stuck on using the term Phase-out vs Phase-down of fuel, as India had insisted in Glasgow CoP. India has also made it clear that cuts must be on all fossil fuel, not just Coal which it needs for thermal power- about 73% of Indian power generation is based on coal- and has indicated that Oil and Gas cuts must also be included.

In his speech at the inaugural session with leaders PM Modi made several points: 

  1.  India has 17 percent of the world’s population, is the most populous country but its share in global carbon emissions is less than 4 percent- although Climate agencies say that figure is about 7% 
  2. India is one of the few economies in the world that is on track to meet the NDC targets. 
  3. India’s target is to reduce emissions intensity by 45 percent by 2030 
  4. India will increase the share of non-fossil fuel to 50 percent of the mix 
  5. India is sticking to a net zero target of 2070, not bringing that earlier. 
  6. India and UAE launched a Green Credit Initiative 
  7. The big announcement- that India would like to host the CoP33 to be held in 2028, that India last hosted in 2002.

“We don’t have much time to correct the mistakes of the last century.A small section of mankind has exploited the nature indiscriminately. But the whole humanity is paying its price, especially the residents of the Global South. This thinking of ‘only my welfare’ will take the world towards darkness. Every person sitting in this hall, every head of state has come here with a huge responsibility.”- Prime Minister Narendra Modi

It wasn’t all climate work- and PM Modi met with a number of leaders on the sidelines of CoP,  

  1. Discussing the Israel-Hamas conflict with leaders from the region including Israel President Herzog, UAE President, leaders of Jordan and other countries 
  2. The sentencing of 8 Indian Naval officers came up with the Emir of Qatar 
  3. Meetings with neighburhood leaders like Sri Lanka, and with the new President of Maldives Mohammad Muizzu, who subsequently said PM Modi had agreed to the Maldives demand to take back military personnel stationed there 
  4. And this famous selfie with Italian Prime Minister Georgia Meloni- who hashtagged the picture with Modi #Melodi. 

This CoP has also seen some major controversies and concerns as well:

  1. No Biden-Xi at CoP 28: The absence of both leaders was significant- with some suggesting that neither US President nor VP travelled to UAE given the Middle east crisis with the continuing bombardment of Gaza by Israel may have given a visit a political colour 
  2. At the same time Russian Putin arrived in UAE, but to discuss fossil fuel deals 
  3. Oil Lobby at CoP- there were several reports about the fact that UAE as host , itself a major oil exporter had a conflict of interest, and that many of those who came were pushing down targets on cutting fossil fuel production. 
  4. UAE CoP President Sultan Al Jaber himself came under fire- as he is not only the head of UAE’s renewable energy agency Master, but also of ADNOC, Abu Dhabi’s oil company. In particular comments he made indictating that the evidence against fossil fuels for global warming came under fire- here was his response: “ I am surprised at attempts to undermine cop28, we are guided by science “ – UAE CoP President Sultan Al Jaber
  5. India didn’t sign the Green Pledge, and Climate Health pledge- saying Climate justice was the most important principle 

Earlier I spoke to The Hindu’s Deputy Science Editor Jacob Koshy in Dubai about some of the questions raised over the summit:  

WV Take: It doesn’t need 77,000 delegates to fly to a conference in West Asia to study whether the world is on track with the goals they established at the CoP 21 in Paris in 2016- it should be fairly clear that the world has failed to ensure goals on mitigation of greenhouse gases, keeping global warming in check and on climate change adaptation. While India has done better than many, especially given its large population, it has not broadened the scope to tackle climate change at a regional level – across South Asia, one of the world’s most climate vulnerable areas- and this is where it needs more focus.

WV Reading Recommendations: 

  1. 3 books by Amitav Ghosh right at the top of my list: The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable, Nutmeg’s Curse: Parables for a Planet in Crisis and the Living Mountain 
  2. 2. Drawdown: The most comprehensive plan to reverse Global Warming, edited by Paul Hawken, who wrote Regeneration: Ending the climate crisis in one Generation 
  3. This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate is Naomi Klein’s classic from 2014, but also followed up by On Fire: The Burning Case for a new green deal and All We can Save: 
  4. The Uninhabitable Earth: A Story of the Future David Wallace-Wells an acclaimed well book- also recommended by Jacob Koshy 
  5. The Earth Transformed: An Untold History by Peter Frankopan- who looks at the historical evidence of climate change- he is the author of The Silk Roads and the New Silk Roads, so the book does have a lot on China 
  6. The Next New : Navigating the Fifth Industrial Revolution by Pranjal Sharma, that has a chapter on Green Energy in India worth reading 
  7. The Climate Solution : India’s Climate Change Crisis and what we can do about it by Mridula Ramesh 
  8. Environmentalism : A Global History by Ramachandra Guha – on India’s environmental traditions 
  9. India in a Warming World: Integrating Climate Change and Development Edited by Navroz K. Dubash 

Script and Presentation: Suhasini Haidar

Production: Gayatri Menon and Shibu Narayan

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Smog obscures Dubai skyline on ‘Health’ day at COP28 climate summit

Dubai’s glitzy skyline was obscured by a blanket of smog rated as “unhealthy” on Sunday as thousands of delegates attended the fourth day of the COP28 summit, which was designated as “health” day and where topics of discussion include air quality and the unhealthy affects of climate change. 

  • ​​​​​Hillary Clinton calls for insurance reform at COP28 UN climate talks 

Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on Sunday for reform of the insurance sector, where companies are increasingly withdrawing assistance against climate shocks.

Lower-income countries and workers in nations most affected by climate change are struggling to access insurance to help protect them from economic shocks.

“We need to rethink the insurance industry,” Clinton said during a panel on women and climate resiliency at the summit in Dubai. “Insurance companies are pulling out of so many places. They’re not insuring homes. They’re not insuring businesses.”

  • COP28 delegates urge greater action on climate-linked health risks

Physicians, activists and country representatives at this year’s COP28 summit have called for greater global efforts to protect people from the increasing health and safety risks posed by climate change.

With global temperatures set to continue climbing for decades, experts say countries will need to boost funding for healthcare as heatwaves become more dangerous and diseases like malaria and cholera spread.

Climate-related impacts “have become one of the greatest threats to human health in the 21st century”, COP28 president Sultan Ahmed Al-Jaber said in a statement.

  • Former US vice president Gore takes aim at host UAE’s emissions

Armed with satellite images of pipelines, former US vice president and climate champion Al Gore singled out the emissions of the United Arab Emirates at the COP28 talks in the oil-rich monarchy on Sunday.

Gore and Climate TRACE, an independent emissions tracker, had a message in Dubai to countries and industries around the world: no one can hide their emissions anymore.

Using a network of 300 satellites and artificial intelligence, Climate TRACE can now monitor emissions from more than 352 million sites from 10 industries.

Its data showed the UAE’s greenhouse gas emissions rose by 7.5 percent in 2022 from the previous year, compared to a 1.5 percent increase for the entire world.

“In large regions of the world, it’s very uncommon to have any self-reporting” of emissions, Gore said.

Speaking in the main plenary room of the COP 28 site, Gore pointed to huge monitors showing satellite images of the major emitting sites in the UAE.

Another map showed leaks from pipelines.

  • Air pollution soars in Dubai on ‘Health’ day at COP28

Dubai‘s skyline was obscured by a blanket of smog rated as “unhealthy” on Sunday as thousands of delegates attended the fourth day of the COP28 summit.

The air quality index reached 155 micrograms per cubic metre of PM2.5 pollution — the fine particulate matter that is most harmful, as it can enter the bloodstream — according to WAQI.info, a real-time pollution tracker.

In “unhealthy” air quality, “everyone may begin to experience health effects; members of sensitive groups may experience more serious health effects,” the website warns.

Hazy conditions have been noticeable over the first few days of COP28, where negotiators are trying to hammer out a global agreement to reduce emissions and curb climate change.

Sunday is designated as “health” day at COP28, where topics under discussion include air quality and the unhealthy effects of climate change.

Outdoor air pollution driven by fossil fuel emissions kills more than four million people a year, according to the World Health Organization, as it increases the risk of respiratory diseases, strokes, heart disease, lung cancer, diabetes and other problems.

The damage is caused partly by PM2.5 microparticles, which mostly come from fossil fuels burned in transportation and industry.

COP28 is unfolding about 11 kilometres (seven miles) from the Jebel Ali Power and Desalination Complex, the world’s biggest gas-fuelled power station.

  • Suez Canal and Scatec sign $1.1 billion green methanol MoU

Egypt‘s Suez Canal economic zone and Scatec ASA have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) worth $1.1 billion to supply ships with green fuel, a Suez Canal statement said on Sunday.

The MoU, agreed on the sidelines of COP28, envisages production of 100,000 tonnes of green methanol per year by 2027, the statement said.

  • Global regulators propose tougher scrutiny of voluntary carbon markets

A global securities watchdog proposed 21 safety measures on Sunday to improve integrity, transparency and enforcement in voluntary carbon markets (VCMs) in a sector of growing importance to efforts to combat climate change.

IOSCO, which groups market watchdogs from Asia, Europe, Latin America and the United States, launched a 90-day public consultation on a set of good practices for national regulators to apply.

“VCMs have gained significant importance in recent years. But for these markets to succeed, they need integrity – both environmental and financial,” Rodrigo Buenaventura, chair of IOSCO’s sustainable finance taskforce, told an event at COP 28 on Sunday.

VCMs cover pollution-reducing projects, such as reforestation, renewable energy, biogas and solar power, that generate carbon credits companies buy to offset their emissions and meet net-zero targets.

  • Indonesia and the Asian Development Bank agree to deal to shutter coal-fired power plant early

 

Indonesia and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) have agreed to a provisional deal with the owners of the Cirebon-1 coal-fired power plant to shutter it almost seven years earlier than planned, the ADB’s senior climate change energy specialist told Reuters.

The deal, announced during the COP28 talks in Dubai, is the first under the ADB’s Energy Transition Mechanism (ETM) programme, which aims to help countries cut their climate-damaging carbon emissions.

Supporting a $20 billion Just Energy Transition Partnership agreed last year that aims to bring forward the sector’s peak emissions date to 2030, the ADB hopes to replicate it across other countries in the region.

“If we don’t address these coal plants, we’re not going to meet our climate goals,” ADB’s David Elzinga said on the sidelines of the conference.

“By doing this pilot transaction, we are learning what it takes to make this happen,” Elzinga said. “We’re very much shaping this as something we want to take to other countries.”

ADB also has active ETM programmes in Kazakhstan, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Vietnam, and is considering transactions in two other countries, it said.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP & Reuters)

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Kamala Harris at climate summit: World must ‘fight’ those stalling action

DUBAI — The vast, global efforts to arrest rising temperatures are imperiled and must accelerate, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris told the world climate summit on Saturday. 

“We must do more,” she implored an audience of world leaders at the COP28 climate talks in Dubai. And the headwinds are only growing, she warned.

“Continued progress will not be possible without a fight,” she told the gathering, which has drawn more than 100,000 people to this Gulf oil metropolis. “Around the world, there are those who seek to slow or stop our progress. Leaders who deny climate science, delay climate action and spread misinformation. Corporations that greenwash their climate inaction and lobby for billions of dollars in fossil fuel subsidies.” 

Her remarks — less than a year before an election that could return Donald Trump to the White House — challenged leaders to cooperate and spend more to keep the goal of containing global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius within reach. So far, the planet has warmed about 1.3 degrees since preindustrial times.

“Our action collectively, or worse, our inaction will impact billions of people for decades to come,” Harris said.

The vice president, who frequently warns about climate change threats in speeches and interviews, is the highest-ranking face of the Biden White House at the Dubai negotiations.

She used her conference platform to push that image, announcing several new U.S. climate initiatives, including a record-setting $3 billion pledge for the so-called Green Climate Fund, which aims to help countries adapt to climate change and reduce emissions. The commitment echoes an identical pledge Barack Obama made in 2014 — of which only $1 billion was delivered. The U.S. Treasury Department later specified that the updated commitment was “subject to the availability of funds.”

Meanwhile, back in D.C., the Biden administration strategically timed the release of new rules to crack down on planet-warming methane emissions from the oil and gas sector — a significant milestone in its plan to prevent climate catastrophe.

The trip allows Harris to bolster her credentials on a policy issue critical to the young voters key to President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign — and potentially to a future Harris White House run. 

“Given her knowledge base with the issue, her passion for the issue, it strikes me as a smart move for her to broaden that message out to the international audience,” said Roger Salazar, a California political strategist and former aide to then-Vice President Al Gore, a lifetime climate campaigner. 

Yet sending Harris also presents political peril. 

Biden has taken flak from critics for not attending the talks himself after representing the United States at the last two U.N. climate summits since taking office. And climate advocates have questioned the Biden administration’s embrace of the summit’s leader, Sultan al-Jaber, given he also runs the United Arab Emirates’ state-owned oil giant. John Kerry, Biden’s climate envoy, has argued the partnership can help bring fossil fuel megaliths to the table.

Harris has been on a climate policy roadshow in recent months, discussing the issue during a series of interviews at universities and other venues packed with young people and environmental advocates. The administration said it views Harris — a former California senator and attorney general — as an effective spokesperson on climate. 

“The vice president’s leadership on climate goes back to when she was the district attorney of San Francisco, as she established one of the first environmental justice units in the nation,” a senior administration official told reporters on a call previewing her trip. 

Joining Harris in Dubai are Kerry, White House climate adviser Ali Zaidi and John Podesta, who’s leading the White House effort to implement Biden’s signature climate law. 

Biden officials are leaning on that climate law — dubbed the Inflation Reduction Act — to prove the U.S. is doing its part to slash global emissions. Yet climate activists remain skeptical, chiding Biden for separately approving a series of fossil fuel projects, including an oil drilling initiative in Alaska and an Appalachian natural gas pipeline.

Similarly, the Biden administration’s opening COP28 pledge of $17.5 million for a new international climate aid fund frustrated advocates for developing nations combating climate threats. The figure lagged well behind other allies, several of whom committed $100 million or more.

Nonetheless, Harris called for aggressive action in her speech, which was followed by a session with other officials on renewable energy. The vice president committed the U.S. to doubling its energy efficiency and tripling its renewable energy capacity by 2030, joining a growing list of countries. The U.S. also said Saturday it was joining a global alliance dedicated to divorcing the world from coal-based energy. 

Like other world leaders, Harris also used her trip to conduct a whirlwind of diplomacy over the war between Israel and Hamas, which has flared back up after a brief truce.

U.S. National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said Harris would be meeting with “regional leaders” to discuss “our desire to see this pause restored, our desire to see aid getting back in, our desire to see hostages get out.”

The war has intruded into the proceedings at the climate summit, with Israeli President Isaac Herzog and Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas both skipping their scheduled speaking slots on Friday. Iran’s delegation also walked out of the summit, objecting to Israel’s presence.

Kirby said Harris will convey “that we believe the Palestinian people need a vote and a voice in their future, and then they need governance in Gaza that will look after their aspirations and their needs.”

Although Biden won’t be going to Dubai, the administration said these climate talks are “especially” vital, given countries will decide how to respond to a U.N. assessment that found the world’s climate efforts are falling short. 

“This is why the president has made climate a keystone of his administration’s foreign policy agenda,” the senior administration official said.

Robin Bravender reported from Washington, D.C. Zia Weise and Charlie Cooper reported from Dubai. 

Sara Schonhardt contributed reporting from Washington, D.C.



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France’s Macron calls on G7 nations to ‘put an end to coal’ by 2030 at COP28 summit

French President Emmanuel Macron addressed the COP28 summit on Friday as world leaders gathered in Dubai for the second day of UN climate talks. Attendees are under pressure to step up efforts to limit global warming even as the Israel-Hamas conflict casts a shadow over the agenda. 

  • Spain to contribute 20 million euros to climate disaster fund

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Friday his country will increase its contribution to the climate disaster fund by 20 million euros.

Sanchez made the announcement during the United Nations climate conference, dubbed COP28, held in Dubai.

  • France’s Macron urges G7 nations to ‘put an end to coal’ by 2030

French President Emmanuel Macron urged G7 nations at UN climate talks on Friday to set an example to other countries and “commit to putting an end to coal” by 2030.

Speaking at COP28 in Dubai, Macron said investing in coal was “truly an absurdity”.

  • COP28 advisory board member resigns over reports of UAE fossil fuel dealmaking

A member of the main advisory board of the COP28 climate summit has resigned over reports that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) presidency used the meeting to secure new oil, gas deals, according to her resignation letter seen by Reuters.

Hilda Heine, former president of the low-lying, climate vulnerable Marshall Islands, said reports that the UAE planned to discuss possible natural gas and other commercial deals ahead of UN climate talks were “deeply disappointing” and threatened to undermine the credibility of the multilateral negotiation process.

“These actions undermine the integrity of the COP presidency and the process as a whole,” Heiner wrote in the letter she sent to COP President Sultan al-Jaber.

She added that the only way for Jaber to restore trust in the process was to “deliver an outcome that demonstrates that you are committed to phasing out fossil fuels”.

  • With 80,000 attendees, COP28 is largest UN climate summit ever

COP28 is officially the largest-ever UN climate summit, with 80,000 participants registered on a list that – for the first time – shows who they work for.

Until this year, those taking part were not obliged to say who they worked for, making it tricky to detect lobbyists and identify negotiators’ potential conflicts of interest.

Some 104,000 people, including technical and security staff, have access to the “blue zone” dedicated to the actual climate negotiations and the pavilions of the states and organisations present.

That largely exceeds the previous record at last year’s UN climate summit in Egypt, COP27, which had 49,000 accredited attendees, and where oil and gas lobbyists outnumbered most national delegations, according to NGOs.

This year, there are nearly 23,500 people from official government teams.

Among the host country’s guests are Bill Gates and Antoine Arnault, the son of LVMH boss Bernard Arnault, the second richest man in the world after Elon Musk, according to Forbes magazine.

  • Iran delegates quit COP28 over Israeli presence

Iranian delegates walked out of UN climate talks in the United Arab Emirates on Friday in protest over the presence of Israeli representatives, state media reported.

The Iranian side considered Israel’s presence at COP28 “as contrary to the goals and guidelines of the conference and, in protest, it left the conference venue”, Energy Minister Ali Akbar Mehrabian, who headed the Iranian delegation, was quoted as saying by the official news agency IRNA.

  • UAE president announces $30 billion fund to bridge climate finance gap

United Arab Emirates President Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed announced the establishment of a $30 billion (€27.5 billion) climate fund for global climate solutions that it hopes will lead to $250 billion in investment by the end of the decade.

Dubbed ALTÉRRA, the fund will allocate $25 billion towards climate strategies and $5 billion specifically to incentivise investment flows into the Global South, according to a statement by the COP28 presidency.

In collaboration with global asset managers BlackRock, Brookfield and TPG, ALTÉRRA has committed $6.5 billion to climate-dedicated funds for global investments, including the Global South, the statement said.

ALTÉRRA was established by Abu Dhabi-based alternate investment manager Lunate, and COP28 Director-General Majid Al Suwaidi will serve as ALTÉRRA’s chief executive officer.

  • Britain’s King Charles III praying that COP28 is ‘turning point’ for climate

King Charles III has told COP28 climate talks in Dubai must be a “critical turning point” in the fight against climate change, with “genuine transformational action”.

“I pray with all my heart that COP28 will be another critical turning point towards genuine transformational action,” Charles told assembled leaders including Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, French President Emmanuel Macron and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

“The Earth does not belong to us, we belong to the Earth,” said the king, a lifelong environmentalist, who missed last year’s COP27 in Egypt reportedly due to objections by then UK prime minister Liz Truss.

  • UN chief says ending fossil fuel use is only way to save ‘burning planet’

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told world leaders that the burning of fossil fuels must be stopped outright and a reduction or abatement in their use would not be enough to stop global warming.

“We cannot save a burning planet with a fire hose of fossil fuels,” Guterres said in a speech to the COP28 summit in Dubai. “The 1.5-degree limit is only possible if we ultimately stop burning all fossil fuels. Not reduce. Not abate.”

He urged fossil fuel companies to invest in a transition to renewable energy sources and told governments to help by forcing that change, including through the use of windfall taxes on industry profits.

FRANCE 24’s Valérie Dekimpe from COP28 in Dubai


Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, president of this year’s COP28, makes opening remarks during the opening conference in Dubai on November 30, 2023. © Karim Sahib, AFP

  • COP28 draft calls for fossil fuels to be reduced or eliminated

Negotiators released the first draft of a UN agreement on climate action Friday calling for fossil fuels to be reduced or eliminated, setting up a fierce fight at the COP28 talks in the oil-rich United Arab Emirates.

Divisions over the future of fossil fuels have already surfaced at the COP28 talks and proposals for their “phase-down/out” contained in the draft prepared by the UK and Singapore will be highly contentious.

Calls for the inclusion of explicit curbs on coal, oil and gas in a final agreement have gained momentum, but any effort to limit fossil fuel use will encounter strong opposition.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, Reuters, AP)

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The oil boss, the islander, the ‘ecofeminist’: Five people to watch at COP28

World leaders, scientists and activists gather in Dubai this week for the latest UN-sponsored COP summit aimed at forging a global response to the climate emergency. From the controversial Emirati host Sultan al-Jaber to climate leader and Prime Minister Mia Mottley of Barbados, FRANCE 24 takes a look at some of the likely protagonists of the high-stakes gathering.  

The COP28 climate summit kicks off in the desert metropolis on Thursday, November 30, drawing representatives of almost 200 countries as well as a host of climate experts, activists and lobbyists. Some 70,000 delegates are expected to attend the 13-day gathering, which will be the largest – and, arguably, most controversial – COP to date.  

The high-stakes summit in the oil-rich United Arab Emirates will be closely scrutinised, with tough negotiations on fossil fuels and climate financing on the agenda. A number of high-profile figures will be in the spotlight, none more so than the event’s Emirati president and host, Sultan al-Jaber.   

  • Sultan Al-Jaber, a Trojan horse at the helm?  

Sultan al-Jaber attends a gathering of oil and gas industry workers in Abu Dhabi in 2019. © AFP file photo

News that COP28 would be headed by the host country’s oil supremo immediately sparked a firestorm of criticism. At 50, the Emirati industry minister is an habitué of climate negotiations, having already led his country’s delegations at COP26 in Glasgow and the following gathering in Sharm el-Sheikh. The founder of renewable energies firm Masdar, he likes to tout his credentials as the face of clean energy in the UAE.  

But al-Jaber is also the chief executive of Adnoc, the country’s state oil company – a title many climate activists say disqualifies him from chairing a summit aimed at combating the global warming caused in large part by fossil fuels.   

The COP28 president bristles at accusations that he has a conflict of interest. “I’m someone who spent the majority of his career in sustainability, in sustainable economic development and project management, and renewable energy,” he told AFP in July.  

He has managed to soothe a number of sceptics in the build-up to the summit, including Harjeet Singh of the influential coalition Climate Action Network International, which brings together some 1,900 NGOs.  

“He’s very straightforward, he’s open to listening,” Singh told AFP this week, though cautioning that the pair “agree to disagree” on several issues.  


A first turning point came at a June conference in Bonn, Germany, when al-Jaber described the reduction of fossil fuels as “inevitable” – an unprecedented step for a Gulf official. The next month, the Adnoc CEO reiterated in a letter to COP28 parties that “phasing down demand for, and supply of, all fossil fuels is inevitable and essential”, setting out ambitious targets for renewable energies and climate financing.  

Just days before the summit’s opening, however, al-Jaber’s position was weakened by a BBC report revealing that the UAE planned to use its role as the host of UN climate talks as an opportunity to strike oil and gas deals – allegations he promptly denied.  

“This is exactly the kind of conflict of interest we feared when the CEO of an oil company was appointed to the role,” Greenpeace’s climate policy head Kaisa Kosonen wrote in a post on the social media network X.  

It remains to be seen whether al-Jaber will be able to influence/guide/lead the nearly 200 states taking part in the summit to broker an agreement on an ambitious text. Dozens of countries have already announced their intention to include an explicit call to reduce fossil fuels, something no COP has ever achieved.  

  • Mia Mottley, standing up for the most vulnerable  

La Première ministre de la Barbade, Mia Amor Mottley, s'exprime lors de la cérémonie d'ouverture du Forum de Paris sur la paix au Palais Brongniart à Paris, le 10 novembre 2023.
Barbados Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley speaks during the opening ceremony of the Paris Peace Forum on November 10, 2023. © Stephane Lecocq, AFP

Mia Mottley’s bold oratory and climate advocacy have catapulted the charismatic leader of tiny Barbados to the forefront of the battle against climate change, making her a champion of the ‘Global South’ nations most vulnerable to the effects of rising seas and global warming.  

A lawyer by training, the Caribbean island’s prime minister shot to prominence in 2021 with an impassioned speech to the UN General Assembly, in which she cited the Bob Marley hit “Get Up, Stand Up” to spur concrete action on climate change.  

“In the words of Robert Nesta Marley … who will get up and stand up for the rights of our people?” she asked.

“Who will stand up in the name of all those who have died because of the climate crisis or will stand up for the small island developing states who need [to keep global warming below] 1.5° Celsius to survive?”  


Her role at COP27 in Glasgow the following year cemented her standing as a world leader on climate change. She notably spearheaded successful efforts to establish a Loss and Damage Fund, designed to provide financial assistance to nations most vulnerable and impacted by the effects of climate change.   

Mottley, 58, also played a key part in a summit held in Paris last June for a new global financial pact. The gathering hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron aimed to achieve greater climate justice by writing off the debt of less-developed countries, setting up a guarantee fund backed by development banks and the International Monetary Fund and taxing the profits of fossil fuel companies.  

Her inspirational advocacy earned her a place on TIME magazine’s list of The 100 Most Influential People of 2022. Writing in the magazine, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, director-general of the World Trade Organization, said Mia Mottley “is an embodiment of our conscience, reminding us all to treat our planet and therefore one another with love, dignity, and care”.

Such is Mottley’s rising fame and prestige that her name has reportedly been floated among possible candidates to head the United Nations after Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, whose mandate will come to an end in 2026.  

  • Xie Zhenhua, China’s veteran climate negotiator  

L'envoyé spécial de la Chine pour le climat, Xie Zhenhua, prononce un discours lors de la conférence sur le climat COP27 au Centre international de conventions de Charm el-Cheikh, le 8 novembre 2022.
Veteran climate negotiator Xie Zhenhua represents China at the COP27 summit in Egypt in November 2022. © Ahmad Gharabli, AFP

Known as China’s “Mr Climate”, Xie Zhenhua has represented the world’s top CO2 emitter at every COP since 2007, making him a centrepiece of all recent climate negotiations. He was notably involved in hammering out the landmark Paris climate agreement in 2015.  

An engineer by training, the 74-year-old official has been at the head of the State Environmental Protection Administration since 1993 and is known for his diplomatic skills. In recent years, he has succeeded in forging a close relationship with his American counterpart John Kerry, the US climate envoy, despite the wider context of tense relations between the two superpowers.  

The personal rapport between Xie and Kerry will be all the more important in the absence of the two countries’ presidents, the White House having confirmed on Monday that President Joe Biden will not attend COP28.  

“Xie Zhenhua is a model for future climate diplomats,” former Greenpeace activist Li Shuo, now a researcher at the Asia Society Policy Institute, told AFP. “He is deeply committed to climate action and shows a willingness and ability to bridge the gap between China and the global community.”  

  • Brazil’s Marina Silva, guardian of the Amazon  

La ministre brésilienne de l'environnement, Marina Silva, s'exprime lors d'un séminaire sur l'Amazonie à Belem, dans l'État de Para, au Brésil, le 5 août 2023.
Brazil’s Environment Minister Marina Silva has long been a fierce critic of deforestation in the Amazon. © Evaristo Sa, AFP

A former presidential candidate, Brazil’s Environment Minister Marina Silva is an emblematic figure of the fight against deforestation in the Amazon. After four years of unprecedented destruction of the world’s largest rainforest under former president Jair Bolsonaro, she has made it her mission to save the so-called “lungs of the planet”.  

Silva served as environment minister during President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s first term in office, between 2003 and 2008. She was reappointed to the job in January, following Lula’s defeat of his right-wing predecessor Jair Bolsonaro. Since then, she has secured a European Union commitment to invest €260 million in an Amazon Fund that Bolsonaro’s government had suspended.   

She is expected to push further at COP28, accompanied by Lula, with a proposal to set up a new fund to preserve tropical rainforests in some 80 countries. Speaking at a seminar in the run-up to the summit, Silva said the initiative would involve “a mechanism of payment per standing tree and per hectare of land” to help countries preserve their forests.  

  • Inez Umuhoza Grace, the voice of ‘ecofeminism’ 

Ineza Umuhoza Grace s'exprime lors du sommet Global Citizen NOW au Glasshouse le 28 avril 2023 à New York.
Ineza Umuhoza Grace speaks at the Global Citizen NOW Summit in New York on April 28, 2023. © Noam Galai AFP

Aside from the official country delegations, COP28 will draw a host of civil-society activists determined to weigh on the discussions. They include Ineza Umuhoza Grace, founder of Rwandan NGO The Green Protector, a women-led non-profit that aims to foster environmental awareness among youths. 

Umuhoza Grace, 27, is global coordinator for the Loss and Damage Youth Coalition, which brings together young people from the global South and North to demand action on helping countries most vulnerable to climate change.   

In an interview with the NGO Global Impact, Umuhoza Grace recalled how she first experienced the effects of the climate crisis at an early age when her family home in Rwanda was destroyed due to intensive rainfall and wind. It was only years later that she was able to link this formative experience to the changing climate. 

“I was watching the news one evening and then I saw on the television a particular area in my country where the community was being forced to move because of flooding and erosion,” she said. “On the television you could see that most of the people who were being displaced were women and children. And that reminded me of the powerless feeling that I had back then.”  

Umuhoza Grace studied environmental engineering at the University of Rwanda and describes herself as an “ecofeminist”. Her work focuses on advocacy and training, both petitioning global leaders at international events and sharing the science of climate change at the grassroots level.

“Everyone, everywhere is exposed (to the climate crisis),” she told Global Impact. “Everyone is vulnerable, but the level of vulnerability depends on the level of infrastructure already in place, the educational system, the funds and finance.” 

Her youth coalition plans to present 10 demands at COP28, including the full implementation of the Loss and Damage Fund that Barbados PM Mia Mottley successful pushed for at the COP27 gathering last year. 

This article has been translated from the original in French.

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Could the world finally agree to ditch fossil fuels at COP28?

Neurath power station in Germany burns lignite, a form of coal

REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

The COP28 climate summit is set to begin on 30 November in Dubai, a city largely built on the immense oil wealth of the United Arab Emirates. But the meeting could see the world acknowledge for the first time that addressing climate change will mean ending the use of fossil fuels.

A number of countries and many civil society groups are campaigning to include language on “phasing out” fossil fuels in any agreement at COP28. Others are pushing for weaker language to “phase down” fossil fuels, or to limit the scope of the statement in other ways.

The UAE, COP28’s host nation, is a major oil producer, and observers have been sceptical of its support for ambitious action on fossil fuels. The country has even planned to use the summit to discuss fossil fuel deals, according to documents obtained by the Centre for Climate Reporting.


The question of what to do about fossil fuels, which are by far the largest source of planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions, is shaping up to be a central issue at the summit.

“It’s important to send the signal about fossil fuels,” says Michael Lazarus at the Stockholm Environment Institute, a non-profit research organisation. “We can’t dance around it.”

Haven’t countries pledged to phase out fossil fuels already?

Burning fossil fuels is responsible for more than 70 per cent of the greenhouse gas emissions that drive climate change. But countries didn’t explicitly call out the role of fossil fuels in any official declaration at United Nations climate summits until COP26 in Glasgow, UK, in 2021.

Back then, countries nearly agreed to “phase out” coal power, which is more emissions-intensive than oil or gas. But this language was weakened at the last minute, resulting in a pledge to “phase down” coal power following objections from coal-rich nations India and China. The agreement also referred only to “unabated” coal power, suggesting burning coal could continue as long as carbon capture and storage systems were put in place.

The issue surfaced again at COP27 last year in Egypt, but the declaration didn’t advance beyond what had been agreed in Glasgow. There is now substantial momentum for any agreement at COP28 in Dubai to include stronger language on reducing fossil fuels.

Who is backing a phase-out?

Since COP26, a group of 10 countries and other territories led by Denmark and Costa Rica called the Beyond Oil & Gas Alliance has lobbied for a fossil fuel phase-out. Many other countries and civil society groups have called for some version of phasing out fossil fuels. Last month, the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People group of countries including France, Ireland, the Netherlands, Kenya and Spain called for a plan at COP28 that would “phase-out fossil fuel production and use”.

Others support stronger language on fossil fuels than in past summits, but with caveats. The European Union has said it supports a phase-out of “unabated” fossil fuels. The UK and the US, along with other G7 countries, have used the same language.

The COP28 president Sultan Al Jaber, who also runs the UAE’s main oil company ADNOC, has signalled support for language on reducing fossil fuels, albeit not a full phase-out. In a letter to countries attending the summit, he called for an outcome that “accelerates the inevitable and responsible phase-down of all fossil fuels”.

Who is pushing back?

The anti-fossil fuel movement has met opposition from other nations, including major fossil fuel producers like Russia and Saudi Arabia and other oil-exporting members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. Some low-income nations have pushed back as well, arguing that a phase-out would unfairly limit their ability to use their fossil fuel resources and that high-income countries should stop fossil fuel development first.

“A blanket ban on investment in new fossil fuel projects is NOT equitable or just, and cannot be the basis for a just transition,” a group of African countries, led by Zambia, wrote in a submission to the UN.

Can the world meet its climate targets while still using fossil fuels?

António Guterres, the UN secretary-general, recently said the path to meeting the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C primary target is clear: “It requires tearing out the poisoned root of the climate crisis: fossil fuels.”

He was referring to the findings of the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) influential 2021 net-zero road-map, which found that any new development of oil and gas fields was incompatible with the Paris Agreement’s targets. It found that meeting the targets without substantial reliance on carbon capture technology required a scenario where fossil fuels provided just 5 per cent of the total energy supply by 2050.

Another report from the UN Environment Programme and other environmental organisations found that meeting climate targets would require a “near total” phase-out of coal production by 2040 and a three-quarters reduction in oil and gas production by 2050, assuming only a limited reliance on carbon capture technology.

Can we keep burning fossil fuels if we capture the carbon?

Along with scuffles over “phase out” versus “phase down”, the role that carbon capture and storage systems will play in reducing fossil fuel emissions will also be hotly contested at COP28. An agreement to only phase out “unabated” fuels would imply that burning fossil fuels can continue provided any emissions are captured, but Carl Schleussner at Climate Analytics, a German-based organisation, says this is a false solution.

“In the energy sector, we know we can replace fossil fuels,” he says, adding that carbon capture technology is expensive and largely unproven at scale. There are also substantial emissions associated with extracting fossil fuels that wouldn’t be addressed by capturing emissions when they are burned.

Is the world making progress on reducing fossil fuel use?

Current plans for fossil fuel production remain far above what would be required to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5°C. “We see plans to increase production, while we know that no new fossil fuel infrastructure can be built in line with 1.5,” says Schleussner.

Lazarus and his colleagues recently found that governments’ fossil fuel production plans would see coal production increase until 2030 and oil and gas production increase until 2050. If those plans are realised, fossil fuel production in 2030 will be double the threshold required to meet the Paris target.

“This is the wrong course for governments to be setting,” says Lazarus, pointing out that many countries’ production targets aren’t in line with their emissions pledges, nor with anticipated demand for fossil fuels.

Despite nations’ production plans, the IEA recently forecast that global demand for fossil fuels will peak by 2030, driven by the unprecedented boom in renewable energy and other clean energy development, as well as the accelerating shift to electric vehicles and appliances.

Alongside the momentum for stronger language on fossil fuels, there is growing support for an agreement to triple renewable energy capacity and double rates of energy efficiency gains at COP28. Daniel Jasper at the non-profit group Project Drawdown says the targets on fossil fuels and renewables are complementary. “If we’re going to be phasing out fossil fuels, we’re going to need something to replace that.”

Fossil fuel companies have expertise and resources that could help with this, but they aren’t yet doing much to speed this transition to clean energy. A recent report from the IEA found just 1 per cent of global investment in clean energy has come from fossil fuel companies.

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The state of the planet in 10 numbers

This article is part of the Road to COP special report, presented by SQM.

The COP28 climate summit comes at a critical moment for the planet. 

A summer that toppled heat records left a trail of disasters around the globe. The world may be just six years away from breaching the Paris Agreement’s temperature target of 1.5 degrees Celsius, setting the stage for much worse calamities to come. And governments are cutting their greenhouse gas pollution far too slowly to head off the problem — and haven’t coughed up the billions of dollars they promised to help poorer countries cope with the damage.

This year’s summit, which starts on Nov. 30 in Dubai, will conclude the first assessment of what countries have achieved since signing the Paris accord in 2015. 

The forgone conclusion: They’ve made some progress. But not enough. The real question is what they do in response.

To help understand the stakes, here’s a snapshot of the state of the planet — and global climate efforts — in 10 numbers. 

1.3 degrees Celsius

Global warming since the preindustrial era  

Human-caused greenhouse gas emissions have been driving global temperatures skyward since the 19th century, when the industrial revolution and the mass burning of fossil fuels began to affect the Earth’s climate. The world has already warmed by about 1.3 degrees Celsius, or 2.3 degrees Fahrenheit, and most of that warming has occurred since the 1970s. In the last 50 years, research suggests, global temperatures have risen at their fastest rate in at least 2,000 years.  

This past October concluded the Earth’s hottest 12-month span on record, a recent analysis found. And 2023 is virtually certain to be the hottest calendar year ever observed. It’s continuing a string of recent record-breakers — the world’s five hottest years on record have all occurred since 2015. 

Allowing warming to pass 2 degrees Celsius would tip the world into catastrophic changes, scientists have warned, including life-threatening heat extremes, worsening storms and wildfires, crop failures, accelerating sea level rise and existential threats to some coastal communities and small island nations. Eight years ago in Paris, nearly every nation on Earth agreed to strive to keep temperatures well below that threshold, and under a more ambitious 1.5-degree threshold if at all possible. 

But with just fractions of a degree to go, that target is swiftly approaching — and many experts say it’s already all but out of reach.

$4.3 trillion  

Global economic losses from climate disasters since 1970  

Climate-related disasters are worsening as temperatures rise. Heat waves are intensifying, tropical cyclones are strengthening, floods and droughts are growing more severe and wildfires are blazing bigger. Record-setting events struck all over the planet this year, a harbinger of new extremes to come. Scientists say such events will only accelerate as the world warms. 

Nearly 12,000 weather, climate and water-related disasters struck worldwide over the last five decades, the World Meteorological Organization reports. They’ve caused trillions of dollars in damage, and they’ve killed more than 2 million people.  

Ninety percent of these deaths have occurred in developing countries. Compared with wealthier nations, these countries have historically contributed little to the greenhouse gas emissions driving global warming – yet they disproportionately suffer the impacts of climate change.  

4.4 millimeters  

Annual rate of sea level rise

Global sea levels are rapidly rising as the ice sheets melt and the oceans warm and expand. Scientists estimate that they’re now rising by about 4.4 millimeters, or about 0.17 inches, each year – and that rate is accelerating, increasing by about 1 millimeter every decade.

Those sound like small numbers. They’re not.  

The world’s ice sheets and glaciers are losing a whopping 1.2 trillion tons of ice each year. Those losses are also speeding up, accelerating by at least 57 percent since the 1990s. Future sea level rise mainly depends on future ice melt, which depends on future greenhouse gas emissions. With extreme warming, global sea levels will likely rise as much as 3 feet by the end of this century, enough to swamp many coastal communities, threaten freshwater supplies and submerge some small island nations.  

Some places are more vulnerable than others. 

“Low-lying islands in the Pacific are on the frontlines of the fight against sea level rise,” said NASA sea level expert Benjamin Hamlington. “In the U.S., the Southeast and Gulf Coasts are experiencing some of the highest rates of sea level rise in the world and have very high future projections of sea level.”  

But in the long run, he added, “almost every coastline around the world is going to experience sea level rise and will feel impacts.”

Less than 6 years

When the world could breach the 1.5-degree threshold

The world is swiftly running out of time to meet its most ambitious international climate target: keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius. Humans can emit only another 250 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide and maintain at least even odds of meeting that goal, scientists say. 

That pollution threshold could arrive in as little as six years.

That’s the bottom line from at least two recent studies, one published in June and one in October. Humans are pouring about 40 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year, with each ton eating into the margin of error.  

The size of that carbon buffer is smaller than previous estimates have suggested, indicating that time is running out even faster than expected.  

“While our research shows it is still physically possible for the world to remain below 1.5C, it’s difficult to see how that will stay the case for long,” said Robin Lamboll, a scientist at Imperial College London and lead author of the most recent study. “Unfortunately, net-zero dates for this target are rapidly approaching, without any sign that we are meeting them.”

43 percent 

How much greenhouse gas emissions must fall by 2030 to hit the temperature target

The world would have to undergo a stark transformation during this decade to have any hope of meeting the Paris Agreement’s ambitious 1.5-degree cap. 

In a nutshell, global greenhouse gas emissions have to fall 43 percent by 2030, and 60 percent by 2035, before reaching net-zero by mid-century, according to a U.N. report published in September on the progress the world has made since signing the Paris Agreement. That would give the world a 50 percent chance of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees. 

But based on the climate pledges that countries have made to date, greenhouse gas emissions are likely to fall by just 2 percent this decade, according to a U.N. assessment published this month

Governments are “taking baby steps to avert the climate crisis,” U.N. climate chief Simon Stiell said in a statement this month. “This means COP28 must be a clear turning point.” 

$1 trillion a year 

Climate funding needs of developing countries

In many ways, U.N. climate summits are all about finance. Cutting industries’ carbon pollution, protecting communities from extreme weather, rebuilding after climate disasters — it all costs money. And developing countries, in particular, don’t have enough of it. 

As financing needs grow, pressure is mounting on richer nations such as the U.S. that have produced the bulk of planet-warming emissions to help developing countries cut their own pollution and adapt to a warmer world. They also face growing calls to pay for the destruction wrought by climate change, known as loss and damage in U.N.-speak. 

But the flow of money from rich to poor countries has slowed. In October, a pledging conference to replenish the U.N.’s Green Climate Fund raised only $9.3 billion, even less than the $10 billion that countries had promised last time. An overdue promise by developed countries to deliver $100 billion a year by 2020 to help developing countries reduce emissions and adapt to rising temperatures was “likely” met last year, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said this month, while warning that adaptation finance had fallen by 14 percent in 2021. 

As a result, the gap between what developing countries need and how much money is flowing in their direction is growing. The OECD report said developing countries will need around $1 trillion a year for climate investments by 2025, “rising to roughly $2.4 trillion each year between 2026 and 2030.”

$7 trillion 

Worldwide fossil fuel subsidies in 2022

In stark contrast to the trickle of climate finance, fossil fuel subsidies have surged in recent years. In 2022, total spending on subsidies for oil, natural gas and coal reached a record $7 trillion, the International Monetary Fund said in August. That’s $2 trillion more than in 2020. 

Explicit subsidies — direct government support to reduce energy prices — more than doubled since 2020, to $1.3 trillion. But the majority of subsidies are implicit, representing the fact that governments don’t require fossil fuel companies to pay for the health and environmental damage that their products inflict on society. 

At the same time, countries continue pumping public and private money into fossil fuel production. This month, a U.N. report found that governments plan to produce more than twice the amount of fossil fuels in 2030 than would be consistent with the 1.5-degree target. 

66,000 square kilometers

Gross deforestation worldwide in 2022

At the COP26 climate summit two years ago in Glasgow, Scotland, nations committed to halting global deforestation by 2030. A total of 145 countries have signed the Glasgow Forest Declaration, representing more than 90 percent of global forest cover. 

Yet global action is still falling short of that target. The annual Forest Declaration Assessment, produced by a collection of research and civil society organizations, estimated that the world lost 66,000 square kilometers of forest last year, or about 25,000 square miles — a swath of territory slightly larger than West Virginia or Lithuania. Most of that loss came from tropical forests. 

Halting deforestation is a critical component of global climate action. The U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns that collective contributions from agriculture, forestry and land use compose as much as 21 percent of global human-caused carbon emissions. Deforestation releases large volumes of carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere, and recent research suggests that carbon losses from tropical forests may have doubled since the early 2000s.  

Almost 1 billion tons

The annual carbon dioxide removal gap 

Given the world’s slow pace in reducing greenhouse gas pollution, scientists say a second approach is essential for slowing the Earth’s warming — removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

The technology for doing this is largely untested at scale, and won’t be cheap.  

A landmark report on carbon dioxide removals led by the University of Oxford earlier this year found that keeping warming to 2 degrees Celsius or less would require countries to collectively remove an additional 0.96 billion tons of CO2-equivalent a year by 2030.

About 2 billion tons are now removed every year, but that is largely achieved through the natural absorption capacity of forests. 

Removing even more carbon will require countries to massively scale up carbon removal technologies, given the limited capacity of forests to absorb more carbon dioxide. 

Carbon removal technologies are in the spotlight at COP28, though some countries and companies want to use them to meet net-zero while continuing to burn fossil fuels. Scientists have been clear that carbon removal cannot be a substitute for steep emissions cuts. 

1,000 gigawatts 

Annual growth in renewable power capacity needed to keep 1.5 degrees in reach  

The shift from fossil fuels to renewables is underway, but the transition is still far too slow to meet the Paris Agreement targets. 

To keep 1.5 degrees within reach, the International Renewable Energy Agency estimates that the world needs to add 1,000 gigawatts in renewable energy capacity every year through 2030. By comparison, the United States’ entire utility-scale electricity-generation capacity was about 1,160 gigawatts last year, according to the Department of Energy.

Last year, countries added about 300 gigawatts, according to the agency’s latest World Energy Transitions Outlook published in June. 

That shortfall has prompted the EU and the climate summit’s host nation, the United Arab Emirates, to campaign for nations to sign up to a target to triple the world’s renewable capacity by 2030 at COP28, a goal also supported by the U.S. and China.

“The transition to clean energy is happening worldwide and it’s unstoppable,” International Energy Agency boss Fatih Birol said last month. “It’s not a question of ‘if’, it’s just a matter of ‘how soon’ – and the sooner the better for all of us.”

This article is part of the Road to COP special report, presented by SQM. The article is produced with full editorial independence by POLITICO reporters and editors. Learn more about editorial content presented by outside advertisers.



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Australia offers refuge to Tuvaluans as rising sea levels threaten Pacific archipelago

As sea levels continue to rise due to global warming, Tuvalu, a small archipelago in the Pacific, is seeing its territory disappear underwater, threatening the survival of its more than 11,000 inhabitants. A new treaty with Australia, however, will soon allow Tuvaluans to move to the largest country in Oceania, whose greenhouse gas emissions are partly responsible for the islanders’ plight.  

Canberra announced on Friday that it is offering climate refuge to Tuvaluans, unveiling the terms of a pact that would enable citizens of the 26-square kilometre archipelago – the fourth smallest state in the world – to move to Australia to “live, study and work”. 

Located near the Equator, the island nation of Tuvalu is comprised of nine reef islands and atolls that rise an average of only two metres above sea level. Due to rising sea levels driven by climate change, the low-lying land is forecast to be submerged by Pacific waters by the end of the century. 

The new pact between Australia and Tuvalu, signed by prime ministers Anthony Albanese and Kausea Natano, has been described as “groundbreaking ” by University of New South Wales professor and refugee law expert Jane McAdam. 

“It’s the first agreement to specifically deal with climate-related mobility,” McAdam said. 

Natano hailed the agreement as a ” beacon of hope” for his nation. 

According to the pact, which will have to be ratified by both countries before coming into effect, Tuvaluan refugees will have access to education and healthcare, as well as financial and family support in Australia. 

To avoid a damaging “brain drain”, the number of Tuvaluans able to move to Australia will initially be capped at 280 per year. 

Climate migrants 

Australia’s offer to host its South Pacific neighbours marks a new step towards the recognition of climate change refugees. 

In previous years, Tuvaluans and people from other Pacific islands seeking asylum in nearby countries such as New Zealand have seen their requests rejected, as climate change is not recognised as a basis for obtaining refugee status by the 1951 Refugee Convention

Even the term “climate refugee” has no legal definition and is not endorsed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) meanwhile defines “the movement of a person or groups of persons who, predominantly for reasons of sudden or progressive change in the environment due to climate change, are obliged to leave their habitual place of residence, or choose to do so, either temporarily or permanently, within a State or across an international border,” as “climate migration”.   

This could be applied to the entire Tuvaluan population which is currently threatened by the consequences of climate change. As the archipelago’s shorelines continue to recede, its inhabitants could eventually all be driven from their homes and become some of the world’s first climate migrants.  

Foretold threat 

Many have already warned against the climate challenges that Tuvaluans currently face. 

Fanny Héros, a project officer and scientific journalist in French climate action association Alofa Tuvalu, warned back in 2008 that “the inhabitants of Tuvalu will become the world’s first climate refugees“. 

In 2009, then Tuvaluan prime minister Apisai Ielemia said his archipelago was threatened by rising sea levels due in part to global warming caused by human activity, at the Copenhagen Summit. 

Tuvalu sounded the alarm once again in November 2021 at COP26 in Glasgow.  

“Climate change and sea level rise are deadly and existential threats to Tuvalu and low-lying island atoll countries,” Tuvalu’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Simon Kofe said in a video statement, standing knee-deep in water. 

“We are sinking, but so is everyone else,” he said.  

“No matter if we feel the impacts today like in Tuvalu, or in a hundred years, we will all still feel the dire effects of this global crisis one day,” Kofe said. 


Tuvalu’s top diplomat delivered the same message again the following year, at COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, as he urged the international community to act swiftly to stop the devastating effects of global warming on the archipelago. 

The Tuvaluan government announced earlier this year the creation of a digital version of its territory, “The First Digital Nation“, to raise awareness of the island nation’s plight, and to allow it to continue to exist as a state even after all of its land has been submerged.

“We want to be able to take a snapshot of what culture is today, and allow my children and grandchildren to have that same experience wherever they are in the world,” Kofe said in an interview with nonprofit organisation Long Now.

“So even if the physical territory is lost, we would never lose the knowledge, culture, and way of life that Tuvaluans have experienced and lived for many centuries,” he said. 


According to the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), sea levels have risen by around 23 centimetres since 1880. This increase has accelerated steadily over the past quarter-century, to the extent that sea levels are predicted to rise by an additional 30 cm by 2050, and 77 cm by 2100. 

This means that half of Tuvalu’s territory, which has already lost two coral reefs to rising sea levels, would be underwater by 2050. And by 2100, the archipelago would be wiped off the map. 

This combination picture shows at top a Tuvaluan house, perched over an empty “borrow pit” dug by US forces during World War II in order to build the airstrip on Funafuti Atoll, home to nearly half of Tuvalu’s population of more than 11,000, on February 22, 2004, and the same house flooded at high tide. © Torsten Blackwood, AFP

And yet, shrinking land mass is not the only challenge that Tuvalu faces. 

Tuvalu’s capital, Funafuti, has also witnessed severe drought, water shortages and contaminated groundwater due to rising sea levels. The difficult climate-related conditions have subsequently translated into widespread malnutrition and displacement on the archipelago. 

‘Good neighbourliness’

“Australia and Tuvalu are family. And today we are elevating our relationship to a more integrated and comprehensive partnership,” Albanese said in a tweet on social media platform X on Friday as he announced the inking of the pact baptised ‘Falepili Union’ with Natano. 

“Falepili is a Tuvaluan word for the traditional values of good neighbourliness, care and mutual respect. Put simply, it means being a good neighbour,” Albanese said. 


The two countries will work together on “climate adaptation, work arrangements and security” in a new partnership which “recognises climate change as the single greatest threat to the livelihoods, security and wellbeing of the peoples of Tuvalu”, he added. 

While some lauded the new pact, others pointed out the irony as they highlighted Australia’s share of responsibility for global warming. 

“Australia helping the people of Tuvalu who are suffering from the effects of climate change. The same Australia that has undermined every international agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and is behind many environmentally disastrous projects,” one user said in a tweet. 

Another quipped: “[The] bloody magnanimity of the hero [Albanese] who will throw Tuvalu a lifeline if the island succumbs to the effects of climate change, all the while continuing to sell coal and gas to countries like China and India”. 

Australia’s economic reliance on coal and gas exports has long been a point of friction with its many Pacific neighbours, who face massive economic and social costs from wilder weather and rising sea levels. 

While Australia contributed just over one percent of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions in 2020, it is one of the world’s top exporters of coal which remains largely responsible for global warming. 

According to Geoscience Australia, the country was in 2021 the world’s largest exporter of liquid natural gas (LNG), another cause of rising global average temperatures. 

Albanese said developed nations needed to start shouldering more responsibility as developing countries bore the brunt of the climate crisis. 

Tuvalu is far from being the only island nation threatened by climate change: others such as the Maldives (Indian Ocean), Kiribati (Polynesia), the Marshall Islands and Nauru (Oceania) are also becoming increasingly vulnerable in the face of rising sea levels and multiplying natural disasters, a result of global warming. 

(with AFP)

This article has been adapted from the original in French



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A big climate change stress test is coming for Amazon sellers and suppliers

As Amazon and other big businesses ramp up efforts to reduce their carbon footprint, they’re putting pressure on their suppliers to do the same, and those who don’t may pay a big price.

Starting in 2024, Amazon will require suppliers to share their emissions data, set emissions goals, and report on their progress, the e-commerce giant said in its recently released sustainability report. With that move, it joins Microsoft, Walmart, Apple, and others in saying that suppliers must step up decarbonization efforts. 

The mandates come as big businesses face more demand than ever to adopt eco-friendly practices. Consumers, investors, regulators, and governments are pushing firms for more progress and transparency.

“The pressure is coming at companies, who are then putting pressure on suppliers,” said Bob Willard, a corporate consultant and author of six books on sustainability. 

And in a cascade, those suppliers are leaning on their suppliers.

Businesses typically track three levels of emissions. Scope 1 come directly from operations. Scope 2 are from purchased energy such as electricity. And scope 3 relate to a company’s activities but come from indirect sources such as supplier emissions and emissions from customers using their products. An analysis of major industries by the non-profit CDP found that, on average, scope 3 accounts for about 75% of all emissions. 

Companies have much more control over their suppliers than many other areas of indirect emissions, says Andrew Winston, author of several sustainability-related business strategy books.

For instance, while a consumer goods company can’t force a detergent buyer to wash in cold water, it can be selective in working with eco-conscious suppliers. 

“The supply chain is where there’s going to be continued rising pressure and transparency because companies have a direct impact over that,” Winston said.  

Decarbonization mandates are getting tougher

Salesforce now requires suppliers to disclose scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions, deliver products and services on a carbon-neutral basis, and fill out a supply scorecard each year. AstraZeneca suppliers are expected to annually report emissions data to the CDP and set science-based goals. 

While Amazon doesn’t include suppliers in its scope 3 accounting, it’s effectively dealing with this in the way many other firms have started doing, by forcing suppliers to report emissions to them and set goals which emissions levels can then be tracked against. “We know that to further drive down emissions, we must ensure those in our supply chain make the operational changes necessary to decarbonize their businesses,” Amazon said in the sustainability report. 

Third-party sellers and suppliers — especially smaller ones — face a paradox as the climate mandates arise and become increasingly tougher. Even if they’re eco-conscious, many say they don’t have the resources to meet the tracking and reporting demands. 

Eight in ten small and medium-sized business owners say reducing emissions is a high priority, yet 63% also say they don’t have the right skills, and 43% say they lack the funds, according to a survey from the non-profit SME Climate Hub. In a survey from Intuit QuickBooks, two-thirds of small business owners said they were taking steps to reduce their environmental impact, such as recycling and using renewable materials. Businesses that weren’t acting cited a lack of money, time, and resources. 

“Tracking emissions data is no easy feat,” says Karen Kerrigan, president and CEO of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council. 

She says compliance costs can vary, but upfront expenses can be considerable, which is challenging for the many firms with a tight cash flow.

The information is out there to start getting a handle on the task. Yet, one of the first things that business owners will learn is that it is going to be time consuming, says small-business owner Chaitali Patel, who founded the sustainability advisory firm Evergood. She points to a 152-page document on scope 3 supply chain accounting and reporting from the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, which provides standards for measuring and managing emissions. 

“If you look at the process of data collection and recordkeeping alone to comply with these requirements, it will take up significant resources,” Patel said. 

Small businesses already under economic stress

Amid ongoing fears of recession, higher interest rates cutting into sources of capital, signs of weaker consumer demand, and labor market challenges, small businesses have focused more on employees and their bottom line than sustainability. When asked what issues matter most to them, nearly 40% said jobs and the economy, while 10% said the environment, according to the CNBC|SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey for the third quarter. 

Yet ready or not, suppliers big and small will have to step up soon. “This is coming,” he said. “The procurement arm of the business community is reaching into their supply chains and is starting to ask more pointed questions.”

In addition to the pressure from investors and politicians, another reason big companies will be looking farther down the supply chain is because they are currently coming up short in their emissions reduction goals. Amid the boom in consumer demand and global growth post-pandemic, many of the world’s largest corporations are producing more carbon emissions than they can reduce.

A recent review by the New York Times of climate documents for 20 major food and restaurant companies found that over half have made no progress in reducing emissions or are increasing emissions. The report found, as previous climate accounting has typically shown, that the majority of emissions come from suppliers.

A recent Just Capital report found that more companies than ever before are making carbon reduction commitments, but the results aren’t there yet in the disclosures. Of companies with existing science-based targets, only 26 out of 123 in the Russell 1000 disclosed emissions reductions. Meanwhile, among companies without specific targets — just general net zero targets — emissions have gone up.

Companies that want to retain high-quality suppliers are apt to help partners meet any sustainability requirements, says Mark Baxa, the present and CEO of the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals.

Corporate giants are offering assistance that ranges from direct funding and better terms to training and access to clean tech.

For its part, Amazon said in its sustainability report that it will use its “scale, investment, and innovation to date to provide our suppliers with products and tools that will help them reach their goals — whether that’s transitioning to renewable energy or having more access to sustainable materials.”

But the retail giant also made clear that there may be consequences for partners that don’t measure up. “We will continue to look for suppliers that help us achieve our decarbonization vision as we select partners for business opportunities,” Amazon said in its report.

Amazon spokespeople declined to comment beyond its publicly available materials.

In the end, it comes down to suppliers choosing what works for their business.

“The suppliers themselves and the suppliers of suppliers have to come to their own independent decision on how they’re going to approach this,” Baxa said.

At the same time, companies have to address scope 3 emissions. “Often, they’ll go with a supplier who can comply,” he said. And for those that don’t, “Eventually, the hard conversation will take place.”

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