COP28 Can Hold Developed Nations’ “Feet to the Fire” on Finance

Ahead of COP28 experts from climate-vulnerable countries remain “cautiously optimistic”; calling on wealthy nations to turn words into action later this month

Voices from climate-vulnerable countries are urging global leaders at COP28 to “define and deliver” an ambitious plan to combat the climate crisis by building on outcomes from COP27 in Egypt last year.  

Speaking on a webinar hosted by the World Resources Institute (WRI), members of the Climate Transformation by 2025 (ACT2025) placed equitable phase out of fossil fuels, the US$100 billion climate finance commitment, the global goal on adaptation, and ‘loss and damage’ funding at the top of their agenda for COP28  later this month. 

“2023 has been marked by an unprecedented impact of the climate crisis worldwide, evident in record-breaking temperatures across numerous countries,” Mohamed Adow, Director at Power Shift Africa – Kenya, a climate action NGO, told onlookers.  

“As COP28 approaches, the question looms: Will it respond adequately to the escalating climate crisis?” 

While Adow acknowledged progress, citing the agreement to create a Loss and Damage Fund for the world’s most vulnerable nations at COP27 in Egypt, fulfilling that promise, along with others like the doubling of climate adaptation funding “is still pending”.  

A report by the Vulnerable Twenty Group (V20), demonstrated how, over the last 20 years, the most climate-at-risk economies lost over half their economic growth potential due to the negative effects of human-induced climate change.   

“Financial support is pivotal; the world needs substantial and timely aid from wealthy countries to vulnerable ones, aiding their transition to sustainable futures amid economic pressures exacerbated by climate-related disasters,” said Adow, adding that COP28 must deliver an ambitious package, ensuring implementation and honouring past financial commitments to support vulnerable nations. 

“It’s imperative that COP28 defines and delivers an ambitious plan to combat climate change, building on the outcomes of COP27,” he added, noting that a successful conference will pave the way for a safer global trajectory. 

Negotiations on operationalising the Loss and Damage Fund have been slow but a meeting of the Transitional Committee, chaired by the UNFCCC, established agreement on recommendations earlier this month. 

These will be discussed at COP28, held from 30 November until 12 December at the Expo City in Dubai.  

Taking stock 

COP28 will see the conclusion of the first Global Stocktake, designed to assess countries’ progress toward the goals of the Paris Agreement. 

In October, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) published a new synthesis report to support governments in their decision-making process for the Global Stocktake. This synthesis report follows the release of a technical report, which outlined actionable climate solutions ready for implementation.     

Also speaking at the event, Tony La Viña, Associate Director for Climate Policy and International Relations, Manila Observatory, Philippines, commended the work of the UNFCCC on both reports, but caveated that there were “missing points”, citing the failure of developed countries to deliver on their US$100 billion climate finance commitment, which has not yet been met, and will expire in 2025.  

La Viña noted that neither report provides any recommendations for developed nations to close the shortfall of funding; neither do they address the need for developed countries to further scale up finance before 2025. 

“We’re also concerned that the report lumped together the US$100 billion commitment and Loss and Damage Fund, as we’ve consistently been advocating […] that it’s important for loss and damage to be its own distinct issue […] to enhance efforts at all levels.” 

He said the Global Stocktake at COP28 should serve to promote specific actions to “springboard greater ambition”, not only on climate mitigation, but including adaptation, loss and damage, and the means of implementation. 

“Equity and fairness must be at the centre of the Global Stocktake,” he said, adding that the outcomes from this process should consider social, economic and environmental consequences of the shift to a low-carbon and climate-resilient economy. 

“Unconditional commitments or adequate financing must be secured from developed countries so that these commitments are in fact done in a way that is truly just,” concluded La Viña.  

Feet to the fire 

A recent report by the UK-based Energy Institute found that fossil fuels continued to make up 82% of global energy consumption in 2022, leading to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions climbing by 0.8%. 

“The crisis that we face at the moment is a crisis of emissions,” noted Mark Bynoe, Assistant Executive Director, Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, Belize, told onlookers.  

“It’s a crisis based on the fact that, as countries, we continue to pursue fossil fuels and to utilise them to drive our economic development.” 

Current policies do not reflect that “we are nowhere close to achieving the 1.5°C”, nor do they ensure that emissions fall to a point that is manageable.  

“Countries that have said we need to make a conscious decision to move away from fossil fuels are now investing in oil and gas,” he said, noting that the subsidies that need to be cut back are now increasing. 

In reaction to the economic turmoil of the pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war, fossil fuel subsidies have surged by US$2 trillion over the past 24 months, according to data from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).  

“COP 28 provides an opportunity, if just a small one, for us to continue to hold the developed countries’ feet to the fire,” said Bynoe, noting that it was “encouraging” to see a joint statement from the US and China – the world’s largest emitters – on cutting back on their emissions levels. 

“G20 countries emit 80% of the emissions, yet we [developing nations] are the ones that are faced with seeking to adapt, combat, and address these emissions as they continue to have ravaging effects on our economies.” 

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