COP28: Expectations and challenges in global climate policy

As COP28 looms, the spotlight is firmly fixed on the complex interplay of climate change, resilience, adaptation, and biodiversity. Following a tumultuous precursor in the form of climate negotiations in Bonn, the stage is set for robust, if potentially fraught, discussions at the annual event.

A precursor to COP28: Climate talks in Bonn

The lead-up to this year’s conference has not been without tension, as illustrated by recent UN climate negotiations in Bonn, Germany. These critical talks came dangerously close to collapse early in the week, with nations failing to agree on an agenda. Nabeel Munir, the talks’ co-chair, likened the disputes amongst negotiators to “a class of primary school children.”

An agreement was finally reached on the agenda with just a day to spare. However, the absence of crucial elements such as mitigation and finance raised concerns. The culmination of the conference reportedly saw diplomats pushing for stronger climate action depart in disappointment, highlighting the challenges of inter-country disagreements.

Climate change at the forefront

COP28 is set against the backdrop of a stern warning from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The final AR6 ‘synthesis’ report, unveiled earlier this year, is a stark reminder that we are drastically off course in achieving the Paris Agreement’s objectives. 

Notably, the report challenges the misconception that climate risks are merely problems of the ‘future’ rather than pressing ‘current’ issues. Presently, numerous countries globally, including Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Algeria, Thailand, China, India, and Bangladesh, are grappling with unprecedented heatwaves. Such climate impacts underscore the necessity for immediate and concerted global action.

The crucial role of nature protection and restoration

Recognition of the integral role of nature protection and restoration in achieving net-zero emissions has been steadily growing. With COP28 dedicating days to discussions on nature, land use, oceans, and food systems, it is clear that these topics will be areas of focus.

Addressing nature loss is complex, given its location-specific characteristics and the absence of a unifying metric like greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Nevertheless, regulations such as the European Union’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) are rapidly focusing attention on this area.

Policy reforms and investment needs

Countries participating in the convention must devise National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans, detailing their alignment with the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF). The investment gap in nature protection is significant, with current industry estimates suggesting that around $8.8 trillion is needed by 2050 to mitigate biodiversity risks effectively. The global annual investment number stands at a relatively paltry $146 billion. 

Building on COP27 achievements

COP28 has an arduous task of building on the achievements of COP27, particularly regarding the loss and damage funds previously agreed. The details of these funds, along with a framework for setting adaptation goals and delivering the $40 billion adaptation finance agreed upon at COP26, are eagerly awaited.

The conference’s outcomes could shape the regulatory landscape, corporate behaviour, and the risk-opportunity calculus in investments and strategies for the years to come – stay tuned for further insight from the SI Engage team!

 

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