By Unnikrishnan Divakaran Nair and Nirupama Vinayan
LONDON, Jan 31 2024 (IPS)
The 28th Conference of Parties (COP28) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) marked a pivotal moment in the global efforts to combat climate change. Held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) with the participation of delegates from around the world, COP28 showcased a commitment to drive genuine strides in climate action, bringing optimism and progress to the forefront. Here we explore the implications of COP28 outcomes for small and other vulnerable Commonwealth countries and identify the gaps that still need attention. Additionally, it will discuss concrete expectations for COP29, focusing on critical discussions held at COP28.
COP28 was distinctive in its comprehensive approach, covering a diverse range of topics crucial for addressing the climate crisis. Notable discussions included the First Global Stocktake, the Operationalization of the Loss and Damage Fund, the Business and Philanthropy Climate Forum, the UAE Leaders’ Declaration on the Global Climate Finance Framework, and the UAE Climate and Health Declaration.
First Global Stocktake
The First Global Stocktake at COP28 provided a comprehensive assessment of collective progress towards the goals of the Paris Agreement. It involved a thorough review of individual countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and their efforts to limit global temperature rise. This mechanism served as a vital tool for accountability and transparency, fostering a sense of shared responsibility among nations.
For the Commonwealth countries, the Global Stocktake offers an opportunity to showcase their commitment to climate action and demonstrate tangible progress. However, challenges persist in ensuring that the Stocktake remains fair and inclusive, addressing the diverse circumstances of the Commonwealth nations, including those that are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
Operationalization of Loss and Damage Fund
Addressing loss and damage associated with the impacts of climate change is a critical aspect of climate action. COP28 saw discussions on the operationalization of the Loss and Damage Fund, aiming to provide financial and technical assistance to countries facing the most severe consequences. For the Commonwealth nations, particularly those in low-lying regions, this initiative is crucial for building resilience and adapting to climate-induced challenges.
Despite positive strides, gaps remain in determining the fund’s scale and ensuring swift disbursement to affected countries. COP29 must prioritize finalizing the operational details of the Loss and Damage Fund to ensure its effectiveness and responsiveness in times of need.
Business and Philanthropy Climate Forum
The Business and Philanthropy Climate Forum at COP28 facilitated crucial discussions on the role of private sector engagement and philanthropy in climate action. Commonwealth countries, with their diverse economies, can leverage partnerships with businesses and philanthropic organizations to accelerate sustainable initiatives.
However, challenges persist in ensuring that such collaborations align with the principles of climate justice and contribute to the overall well-being of communities. COP29 should focus on refining frameworks for private sector involvement, emphasizing transparency, accountability, and the alignment of business practices with climate goals.
UAE Leaders’ Declaration on the Global Climate Finance Framework
The UAE Leaders’ Declaration at COP28 outlined a framework for global climate finance, acknowledging the need for increased financial support to developing countries. For Commonwealth nations, many of which are developing economies, this declaration holds promise for accessing the necessary funds to implement ambitious climate actions.
Nevertheless, a significant gap exists in defining the specifics of the finance framework, including the sources of funding and the mechanisms for distribution. COP29 should prioritize establishing a clear and robust climate finance framework to ensure that developing Commonwealth countries receive the support needed for sustainable development.
UAE Climate and Health Declaration
The UAE Climate and Health Declaration emphasized the interconnectedness of climate change and public health. Commonwealth countries, facing diverse health challenges exacerbated by climate impacts, can benefit from a holistic approach that integrates climate and health policies.
While the declaration at COP28 recognized the importance of this intersection, concrete steps for implementation and resource allocation are crucial. COP29 should prioritize the development of strategies that integrate climate and health considerations, ensuring the well-being of Commonwealth populations in the face of a changing climate.
Shaping Expectations for COP29
COP28 concluded on a note of optimism and progress, with participants committing to genuine strides in climate action. However, acknowledging the herculean task ahead is essential. COP29, set to be held in Azerbaijan, becomes a crucial milestone for the international community.
Concrete expectations for COP29 include deciding on a new climate finance goal and framing new and ambitious NDCs. The Commonwealth, as a collective voice for equitable and sustainable growth, is expected to play a more prominent role in the global climate action scene. Ensuring that all parties move as one entity with a clear vision is imperative for deriving the desired outcomes and addressing the gaps highlighted at COP28.
Looking ahead, the international community anticipates decisive actions at COP29, setting the stage for framing new NDCs at COP30, hosted by Brazil. The Commonwealth’s involvement will be pivotal in achieving a sustainable and resilient future, fostering global cooperation and ensuring that no nation is left behind in the pursuit of a climate-safe world.
Unnikrishnan Divakaran Nair is the Head of Climate Change at the Commonwealth Secretariat covering 56 small and other vulnerable Commonwealth countries.
Nirupama Vinayan is an intern at the Commonwealth Secretariat working in the area of climate finance for the small and other vulnerable member countries of the Commonwealth.
IPS UN Bureau