As Week 1 of COP28 draws to a close, the Climate Strategies Secretariat reflect on the mixed progress of these increasingly urgent negotiations.  

We have witnessed some major victories at COP28 in Dubai, including: 

  • Operationalisation of the Loss & Damage Fund 
  • Over 120 countries pledging to triple renewable energy capacity 
  • Launch of the Climate Club 
  • Contributions made to the Green Climate Fund (more than $12bn), Least Developed Countries Fund ($141.7m) and Adaptation Fund ($165.8m)

In addition to following these key negotiations, we have been facilitating a wide range of events. Full list of events here.

Coltrane Morley-Williams, Programme & Networks Officer at Climate Strategies, moderates a panel on “How Just Transition Can Help Deliver Climate Action”, organised by the Just Transition Institute in the Spanish Pavilion, COP28.

However, amid these successes, COP28 has been mired in controversies and criticism: 

As time runs out at COP28, there are concerns about the scale of the challenge for Week 2. There are a number of crucial matters that remain unresolved, including negotiations on the Global Stocktake and a decision on the future of fossil fuels. 

Updates on negotiations 

Loss & Damage Fund 

COP28 kicked off with the historic agreement to operationalise the Loss and Damage Fund – a pot which will be used to compensate countries in the Global South for the ‘loss and damage’ resulting from climate-induced disasters. Following the launch, several Global North nations announced pledges to fill the fund, amounting to over $700m in total. 

UNFCCC Formal Opening of COP28. Credit: UN Climate Change.

However, “the money offered so far falls far short of [the] estimated $400bn in losses developing countries face each year”.  

There are also great concerns about whether this climate finance will be mobilised quickly and how accessible it will be to developing countries – a frequent criticism of previous funds established by COP processes. 

You can find out more about the challenges of (& solutions to) translating international climate finance into reality by reading the latest research from our SNAPFI project

The cover art of our recent SNAPFI reports from Indonesia, India, Brazil, South Africa and the EU. Read them here.

Just Transition Work Programme – a perspective from Nicole Kempis, Programme & Development Officer 

“I have been following the Just Transition Work Programme at COP28, and the week started with optimism for a transformative work programme aimed at achieving ambitious climate action and enhancing global equity. Parties have made progress, but divisions are emerging as countries have different visions for international cooperation on just transitions. 
 
After working on Climate Strategies’ South-to-South Just Transitions project for the past year, it’s clear that we don’t need another talk shop or series of workshops. We need a work programme that can actually deliver and support just transitions around the world with knowledge sharing, capacity strengthening, technology support, and financing.  
 
This is the time to not only take ambitious action to ensure a liveable planet, but also to enact just transitions and confront the systems of inequality that brought us to this moment.  
 
To do this, it is also critical that international discussions, which can often feel so theoretical, are grounded in people’s lived realities. There is no just transition without participation.  
 
If you want to know more, join us (either in Dubai or online) for our COP28 panel event, bringing together speakers from around the world to identify ways to connect the international cooperation to local realities of just transitions.” 

COP28 Highlight: Climate Strategies and Just Transitions

Adriana Chavarría Flores, Programme & Impact Manager, addressing the 2023 High-level Roundtable on Just Transition.

On 3rd December, Climate Strategies made a statement at the 2023 High-level Roundtable on Just Transition at COP28, rooted in our submission to SBSTA and SBI on the work programme on just transition pathways referred to in the relevant paragraphs of decision 1.CMA.4.

Global Stocktake – a perspective from Gintarė Zinkevičiūtė, Programme & Networks Officer 

“The first draft of the Global Stocktake (GST) was viewed as not ambitious enough, with many calling for it to be more action-oriented. To reflect all views and submissions communicated by parties, the second draft of the text produced by co-chairs was twice the size of the initial one. After communicating a long list of surgical edits, parties remain divisive in terms of key priorities, especially in terms of pre-2020 emissions and the way forward section.  

The third iteration of the GST was not produced due to the challenges to accommodate all parties’ requests. The contact group concluded that “text is not agreed and represents work in progress”, noting that the parties’ views and submissions were not yet fully reflected [and] that a third iteration was expected.”

In Week 2, E3G reports that “The Global Stocktake response will be the critical negotiation where fossil fuel phase out, a renewable energy and energy efficiency revolution, a new direction for mobilising climate finance, and high standards for governments’ next climate plans due in 2025 all still hang in the balance.” 

Tripling of renewable energy capacity 

On Saturday, more than 110 countries committed to triple renewable energy capacity worldwide by 2030 and double the annual rate of energy efficiency improvements. We welcome this significant announcement, with the stipulation that we also need to phase out fossil fuels to achieve net zero by 2050. 

Phase-out vs phase-down 

Conversation has revolved around the debate on “phasing-out” versus “phasing-down” fossil fuels, with calls for greater ambition from NGOs and small island states met with a hard “no” from many of the world’s largest polluters and producers. 

However, on Tuesday, Reuters reported: “A second draft of what could be the final agreement from the COP28 U.N. climate summit shows negotiators are considering calling for an “orderly and just” phase out of fossil fuels.” 

This news is substantiated by reports on “Quiet progress at summit sidelines as more countries pledge to phase-out” (Business Green), the historic decision of Colombia to join the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, and Australia ending finance for fossil fuel expansion overseas. 

Looking for an overview of research on this topic? Dive into the new Special Issue from the Climate Policy Journal – supported by our Oil and Gas Transitions project – for the latest research on oil and gas phase-out, decarbonisation, the energy transition & more.

Climate Club – a perspective from CEO Andrzej Błachowicz 

“A climate club was launched at COP28 to support decarbonisation of carbon intensive industries. The idea is not new, there have been many concepts and analyses on the subject over the years. But we should welcome this initiative as the first step towards finding a solution which would harness the power of trade to decarbonise industries across developed and developing countries. 

That challenge is one of the key equations to solve if we are serious about climate change. The big part of the job is to co-create solutions by all at the same time, rather than imposing lots of unilateral measures and then trying to remedy the situation. 

Tune in for our upcoming event (find out more here: Climate Clubs & Border Carbon Adjustments) and, above all, engage with Climate Strategies during 2024 as we look into how trade can really support sustainable development and just transition of regions and countries. “

Carbon capture 

Discussions on carbon capture and storage have also been a hot topic at COP28, reportedly drawing the attention of investors while being criticised as a red herring and delay tactic by many NGOs and media outlets. 

Across our projects – C-SINK and C4U in particular – we emphasise that carbon dioxide removal (CDR) solutions are necessary but should not serve as a substitute for continued mitigation efforts. In fact, fossil-fuel emissions are over a million times greater than carbon removal efforts, demonstrating the value of CDR and mitigation occuring in tandem. 

Check out our brand-new C-SINK website to find out more about this project.

And make sure to follow our C4U social media channels for the latest updates – including two brand-new op-eds from C4U researchers in Euractiv and Carbon Pulse.

Dive into our COP28 hub to view our upcoming events and watch recordings of our previous events: