COP28: Did we make progress and what’s next?

And that's a wrap! This year's UN Climate Change Conference COP28 has now concluded and what a whirlwind end to the year it was. There were some major announcements across climate financing, loss and damage, agriculture and the transition to renewable energy sources (some more progressive than others) with the final crescendo taking place on the last day in the form of an agreement by nearly 200 countries to “transition away from fossil fuels so as to achieve net zero by 2050.” Yes, the language may have been loose, but I choose to look at this as a major step in the right direction and believe that it marked the beginning of the end. 

I was lucky enough to be on the ground in Dubai and experience the occasion firsthand. From the offset the sense of togetherness was abundant with so much collaborative discussion and a real sense of shared mission across all “hubs”. The level of innovation on show was truly inspiring across all areas of thee conference whch gave me a lot of hope of keeping 1.5c alive, despite Bill Gates not being as optimistic. 

Some of the more prominent talking points from the event have been:

Loss and damage:  

On the first day of COP wealthy countries most responsible for the climate emergency have pledged a combined total of just over $700m (£556m) to the loss and damage fund. This makes for a good start however this figure is a fraction of the irreversible economic and non-economic losses developing countries are facing from global heating every year, so lot’s more to do on this front. 

The Energy Transition

A total of 118 countries pledged to triple global renewable energy capacity by 2030 and double the progress in energy efficiency. This means increasing it from the current 3.4 terawatts in 2022 to 11 terawatts by 2030.The two targets were among five key steps announced by the International Energy Agency for the success of the UN summit. Additionally, within the initiative, 50 companies representing more than 40% of global oil production signed the Oil and Gas Decarbonization Covenant (OGDC). As part of the initiative, a commitment was made to provide $1 billion in financing for methane emission reduction projects.

Carbon Markets: 

The carbon markets seemed to get off to a great start with the much-needed announcement of the coming together of  VCMI, Science Based Targets initiative, GHG Protocol and The Integrity Council for the Voluntary Carbon Market (ICVCM) to establish an End-to-End Integrity Framework that provides consistent guidance on decarbonisation. 13 national governments also endorsed the UAE Leaders’ Declaration on a Global Climate Finance Framework. The Framework will work to unlock the investment opportunity of climate finance through collective action, opportunity for all, and delivering at scale. Despite the optimistic start the icing on the cake would have been further development on text in Article 6 however, leaders were unable to achieve consensus so no further progress was made. It remains to be seen what the impact of this will b on the carbon markets throughout 2024.

Agriculture and resilient food systems 

The Food, Agriculture and Water Day saw key announcements on global water scarcity and food security, as countries mobilized behind the COP28 UAE Declaration on Agriculture, Food Systems and Climate Action (the Declaration), now endorsed by 152 countries, and the Water Action Agenda. In total, more than USD $7.1 billion has been mobilized during COP28 for climate positive action in the food system sector.

There were so many more key announcement over the 2 week period which you can check out on the COP28 website here:

At Earthchain our focus remains on enabling a greener supply chain. With increased pressure coming from regulators and investors alike many organisations are now mandated to provide detailed reporting on their scope 3 emissions. The lack of access to data, talent shortages and looming deadlines poses a problem for many, particularly those that fall withing the CSRD reporting framework. The challenge also cascades down the supply chain impacting those smaller businesses who will be required to provide adequate insights on their impact for those requesting organisations and where resources and budgets are even more finite.

Having joined several sessions exploring the role of the SME’s, it is clear that they critical stakeholders if we are to reach our targets, often making up around 80% of most enterprise emissions. Technology, if deployed correctly, can offer a solution to remove the SME engagement barrier. AI will play a critical role at all levels of the supply chain by helping to automate data gathering, provide guidance and validation, advise on regulation and even preempt emission hotspots based on business activity. Integration with underlying business application will mean data will be available in near real time, ensuring SME’s can report with confidence to their stakeholders and requesting businesses further up the supply chain can do the same. Ultimately, small businesses require a reliable technology-based solution that will do the heavily lifting for them when it comes to measuring, managing and reporting on their impact, so that they can focus on the real action.

So what’s next? Well in the words of King Charles “In 2050, our grand children will not be asking what we said, they will be living with consequences of what we did or didn't do.” 

So once the dust of the Dubai desert settles, there is nothing left to do now but to take action, together. 


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