The 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) (COP28) commences in Dubai today with a blend of hope, despair, and uncertainty. The annual climate summit begins today and concludes on December 12, 2023. More than 70,000 delegates are expected to attend COP28, united in the mission to accelerate the transition towards a low-carbon, climate-resilient future.

Mired with controversies and the absence of notable world leaders such as US President Joe Biden, many are afraid whether this COP will remain inconclusive on its agenda like the previous ones.

This year, the COP member states are expected to negotiate their first Global Stocktake (GST), a scorecard assessing progress toward the Paris Agreement. This analysis will guide adjustments to climate action plans due in 2025.

Additionally, efforts will focus on operationalizing the loss and damages fund, following a proposal by developing nations for developed countries to disperse at least $100 billion by 2030.

Four other key themes are also under consideration:

1. Fast-tracking the energy transition: Emphasizing renewable energy and resilient food and agricultural systems.

2. Fixing climate finance: Prioritizing the Global South in adaptation finance and aiding communities affected by climate disasters.

3. Nature, people, lives, and livelihoods: Addressing food systems, nature-based solutions, and protection against extreme weather events and biodiversity loss.

4. Inclusivity in climate management: Promoting youth involvement and enhancing communication between different sectors and agencies.

But the activists across the world are miffed with concerns as questions of greenwashing are amplified due to the host country’s status as a major oil producer. Many are afraid that the goalposts may be shifted in COP28 to frame carbon capture and storage as the primary agenda instead of the phasing out of fossil fuels.

A crucial task at COP28 will be to evaluate and implement the global stocktake, which assesses progress on efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate change. The stocktake report, released in September 2023, predicts that global warming could reach 2.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. While this is an improvement from the 4 degrees projected ten years ago, it still falls far short of the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius, ideally to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Governments, especially those in developed nations, need to step up and actively lead the way in setting and implementing their respective national climate action plans. Developed countries, whose historical emissions have significantly contributed to the climate crisis, should clearly and explicitly

outline their plans for fulfilling their climate finance commitments, specifying the exact amounts, methods, and destinations for their financial support to those countries most impacted by climate change. These commitments should be in legally binding agreements to ensure accountability and action.

The world stands at a crossroads, facing an unprecedented threat to its very existence. COP28 presents a critical opportunity to reshape our collective response to the escalating climate crisis. Governments and corporations must rise above narrow self-interests and embrace a shared responsibility for the planet’s well-being. It is time to discard these harmful narratives and embrace a more holistic and sustainable approach to development and progress.