The Opening Day
Posted on 4th December, 2023 in News
The Opening Day of COP is always the moment for the incoming COP Presidency to set the tone not only for the two weeks of their COP but for the year ahead. They host the world on behalf of the region that chose them – for UAE, the Asia Group of UNFCCC. The COP28 outcomes will feed into the global work programme, countries will take home the targets they agreed and try to put them into action on the ground.
What were UAE’s messages as incoming COP Presidency? First, they are doing their job as chair of this global process to table the priorities of the Parties and continue the momentum of the previous COP: the Loss and Damage Fund announced dramatically in the final moments of COP27 has been operationalised at COP28 with contributions of USD420 million on the first day – more will certainly come. More will be revealed about how exactly the Loss and Damage Fund will operate. It will certainly be available to the most vulnerable, least developed countries. There will be a highly concessional loan element for middle income countries. It will address both sudden catastrophic weather-related events and slow-onset climatic shift impacts that develop inexorably over time.
Second, the COP28 Presidency kept a spotlight on Africa. They were part of the Africa Climate Summit in September and are playing the contents of the Nairobi Declaration into the agenda, flagging up a big focus on adaptation and unlocking climate finance by finding feasible and actionable agreements. UAE pledged USD 4.5 billion for climate action in Africa at the Nairobi summit and there are rumours that UAE might announce a huge new USD 30 billion climate finance fund during COP28 – perhaps even today at the Opening of the Leaders Climate Summit.
The Opening Day of COP28 already saw the operationalisation of the Loss and Damage Fund announced at COP27, exceeding its opening target of USD200 million, reaching USD 420 million within the first hour and there will certainly be more announcements on that. This COP feels very focused on the need for real practical actions to translate the high level pledges into reality – and that creates opportunities.
Third, the COP28 Presidency has flagged up an expectation of tough battles in the discussions between the Parties and producers over fossil fuels. COP28 is the first time the oil and gas producers have been openly and proactively brought in. Controversial for many, but real solutions can’t be found without them. Looking ahead to Week 2 of COP28, there is still work to be done if they are to announce a COP28 oil and gas Decarbonisation Accelerator. Much of the discussion focuses on reducing to “near zero” the methane emissions from production and from the products themselves – we are already hearing a lot more about renewable and cleaner energy.
COP28 President HE Dr Sultan al Jaber said that the DNA of COP28 should be: when we commit, we deliver. A challenge to the world leaders gathered for the Climate Action Summit on 1-2 December.