UN Climate Change Conference - United Arab Emirates Nov/Dec 2023
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Summary report, 30 November – 13 December 2023
The 2023 Dubai Climate Change Conference began on a high note. During the opening plenary, parties adopted a decision operationalizing the new loss and damage fund that was established the previous year in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, and a number of parties announced pledges for its initial capitalization. This success was made possible by an agreement reached in the Transitional Committee that was tasked and met throughout 2023 to make a recommendation on the institutional arrangements for the fund.
Parties also swiftly adopted the agendas for the meeting. Pre-sessional consultations managed to secure agreement for a number of contentious issues to be addressed either in presidency consultations or under existing agenda items, rather than as stand-alone items.
Despite these initial high points, negotiations throughout the two-week meeting were difficult, especially on the central outcomes for this conference: the first Global Stocktake (GST) under the Paris Agreement, the framework for implementing the Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA), the mitigation work programme, the work programme on just transition pathways, and matters related to Paris Agreement Article 2.1(c), on aligning finance flows with low-greenhouse gas (GHG) climate-resilient development.
During the second week, negotiations were largely conducted behind the scenes, with the Presidency, its appointed ministerial Co-Facilitators, and others conducting bilateral consultations on draft texts with a view to identify landing zones. Key issues of contention related to, among others, language on fossil fuel phaseout in the GST decision and references to means of implementation for the GGA. Despite the Presidency’s intention to close the meeting on time on Tuesday, 12 December, consultations continued into the early hours of Wednesday, 13 December. In the early morning, draft decisions on the remaining issues were eventually posted and adopted by the closing plenary.
Parties adopted a decision on the GST that recognizes the need for deep, rapid, and sustained reductions in GHG emissions in line with 1.5°C pathways. It encourages parties to ensure their next nationally determined contributions have ambitious, economy-wide emission reduction targets, covering all GHGs, sectors, and categories, and aligned with limiting global warming to 1.5°C.
Among other things, the decision also calls on parties to contribute, in a nationally-determined manner, to global efforts on:
- tripling renewable energy capacity globally and doubling the global average annual rate of energy efficiency improvements by 2030;
- accelerating efforts towards the phase down of unabated coal power;
- accelerating efforts globally towards net zero emission energy systems, utilizing zero- and low-carbon fuels well before or by around mid-century;
- transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly, and equitable manner, accelerating action in this critical decade, so as to achieve net zero by 2050 in keeping with the science;
- accelerating zero- and low-emission technologies, including, inter alia, renewables, nuclear, abatement and removal technologies such as carbon capture and utilization and storage, particularly in hard-to-abate sectors, and low-carbon hydrogen production;
- accelerating and substantially reducing non-carbon-dioxide emissions globally including, in particular, methane emissions by 2030;
- accelerating the reduction of emissions from road transport on a range of pathways, including through development of infrastructure and rapid deployment of zero and low-emission vehicles; and
- phasing out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that do not address energy poverty or just transitions, as soon as possible.
Closing statements showcased how difficult it was to reach the compromise on the GST. Many denounced the lack of a clear reference to fossil fuel phaseout, weak language on coal and methane, and the loopholes associated with so-called “transitional fuels,” which the decision says “can play a role in facilitating the energy transition while ensuring energy security.” Others found the reference to these specific global efforts too prescriptive and underscored the bottom-up and nationally-determined nature of the Paris Agreement. Nevertheless, the decision is celebrated as the “beginning of the end of fossil fuels.”
Other outcomes of the conference include:
- the adoption of the framework for the GGA established in the Paris Agreement, which aims to guide the implementation of the goal and, among other things, establishes impact, vulnerability, and risk assessment (by 2030), multi-hazard early warning systems (by 2027), climate information services for risk reduction and systematic observation (by 2027), and country-driven, gender-responsive, participatory, and transparent national adaptation plans (by 2030);
- the designation of the consortium of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction and the UN Office for Project Services as the host of the Santiago Network on loss and damage;
- the launch of the implementation of the work programme on just transition pathways, with at least two hybrid dialogues to held prior to the two annual sessions of the Subsidiary Bodies;
- the decision to continue and strengthen the dialogue to exchange views on and enhance understanding of the scope of Article 2.1(c) of the Paris Agreement (on aligning finance flows with low-GHG climate resilient development) and its complementarity with Article 9 of the Paris Agreement (on climate finance); and
- the decision to convene an expert dialogue on mountains and climate change and an expert dialogue on the disproportionate impacts of climate change on children at the Subsidiary Bodies meetings in June 2024.
The UAE Climate Change Conference convened from 30 November to 13 December 2024, 24 hours longer than originally scheduled. The conference consisted of the 28th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the 18th meeting of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 18), the 5th session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA 5), and the 59th sessions of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA 59) and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI 59).
In total, 97,372 people were registered for on-site attendance, including 51,695 delegates from parties, 25,360 observers, 3,972 members of the media, and 16,345 support and Secretariat staff. Of the observers, 4,885 were guests of the host country, the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Another 3,074 people, including 177 delegates from parties, 2,821 observers, and 76 media representatives registered for online participation. COP 28 was by far the largest UN climate change conference to date.
A Brief History of the UNFCCC, the Kyoto Protocol, and the Paris Agreement
The international political response to climate change began with the 1992 adoption of the UNFCCC, which sets out the basic legal framework and principles for international climate change cooperation with the aim of stabilizing atmospheric concentrations of GHGs to avoid “dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.” The Convention, which entered into force on 21 March 1994, has 197 parties.
To boost the effectiveness of the UNFCCC, parties adopted the Kyoto Protocol in December 1997. It commits industrialized countries and countries in transition to a market economy to achieve quantified emission reduction targets for a basket of six GHGs. The Kyoto Protocol entered into force on 16 February 2005 and has 192 parties. Its first commitment period took place from 2008 to 2012 followed by the second commitment period, 2013-2020.
In December 2015, parties adopted the Paris Agreement. Under the terms of the Agreement, all countries will submit nationally determined contributions (NDCs) and will review the aggregate progress on mitigation, adaptation, and means of implementation every five years through a Global Stocktake. The Paris Agreement entered into force on 4 November 2016. To date, 193 parties have ratified the Agreement.
Recent Key Turning Points
Paris: The 2015 UN Climate Change Conference convened in Paris, France, and culminated in the adoption of the Paris Agreement on 12 December. The Agreement includes the goal of limiting the global average temperature increase to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5°C. It also aims to increase parties’ ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and make financial flows consistent with a pathway towards low GHG emissions and climate-resilient development. The Agreement will be implemented to reflect equity and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in light of different national circumstances.
Under the Paris Agreement, each party shall communicate, at five-year intervals, successively more ambitious NDCs. Under the common timeframes decision adopted in 2021 in Glasgow, each NDC will last ten years, but will be updated every five years. The Paris Agreement also includes the GST, which convenes at five-year intervals to review collective progress on mitigation, adaptation, and means of implementation. The Agreement further sets out an Enhanced Transparency Framework (ETF) for national reporting by all parties. There are also goals and provisions on adaptation and finance, and further work on technology, loss and damage, and compliance.
When adopting the Paris Agreement, parties launched the Paris Agreement Work Programme (PAWP) to develop the Agreement’s operational details. Parties also agreed on the need to mobilize stronger and more ambitious climate action by all parties and non-party stakeholders to achieve the Paris Agreement’s goals.
Marrakech: The UN Climate Change Conference in Marrakech took place from 7-18 November 2016, and included the first meeting of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA). Parties adopted several decisions related to the PAWP, including initiating a process to identify the information to be provided in accordance with Paris Agreement Article 9.5 (ex-ante biennial finance communications by developed countries).
Fiji/Bonn: The Fiji/Bonn Climate Change Conference convened from 6-17 November 2017 in Bonn, Germany, under the Presidency of Fiji. The COP launched the Talanoa Dialogue, a facilitative dialogue to take stock of collective progress towards the Paris Agreement’s long-term goals. The COP also established the “Fiji Momentum for Implementation,” a decision giving prominence to pre-2020 implementation and ambition. Parties also provided guidance on the completion of the PAWP and decided that the Adaptation Fund shall serve the Paris Agreement, subject to decisions to be taken by CMA 1-3.
Katowice: The Katowice Climate Change Conference convened from 2-14 December 2018 in Katowice, Poland, concluding a busy year that featured an additional negotiation session to advance work on the PAWP. Parties adopted the “Katowice Climate Package,” which finalized nearly all of the PAWP, including decisions to facilitate common interpretation and implementation of the Paris Agreement on the mitigation section of NDCs, adaptation communications, ETF, GST, and financial transparency, among others. Work on cooperative approaches, under Article 6 of the Agreement, was not concluded, and parties agreed to conclude this work in 2019. The COP was unable to agree on whether to “welcome” or “note” the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Special Report on 1.5°C of Global Warming.
Chile/Madrid: The Chile/Madrid Climate Change Conference convened from 2-13 December 2019 in Madrid, under the Presidency of Chile. Delegates established the Santiago Network for Averting, Minimizing, and Addressing Loss and Damage, and adopted the enhanced five-year Lima Work Programme and its Gender Action Plan. Parties also adopted three cover decisions under the different governing bodies, each named the “Chile/Madrid Time for Action.” On many issues, notably Article 6 and long-term finance, parties could not reach agreement.
Glasgow: The Glasgow Climate Change Conference convened in Scotland from 31 October-12 November 2021, following the COVID-19 pandemic-related interruption to the annual rhythm. Parties finalized the Paris Agreement rulebook, adopting guidelines, rules, and a work programme on Article 6 and agreeing on the format of reporting under the ETF. Parties adopted the “Glasgow Climate Pact,” a series of three overarching cover decisions that, for the first time, included a reference to phasing down unabated coal power and phasing out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies. They also agreed to work programmes on a global goal for adaptation, and on urgently scaling up mitigation; created the Glasgow Dialogue on loss and damage; established a process towards defining a new collective quantified goal on climate finance; and launched an annual dialogue on ocean-based climate action.
Sharm El-Sheikh: The Sharm El-Sheikh Climate Change Conference convened in Egypt from 6-20 November 2022 and concluded with the adoption of 60 decisions. For the first time, parties recognized the need for finance to respond to loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change and established a fund and funding arrangements, with the details to be worked out in 2023. Key elements in the package leading to this agreement were work programmes on urgently scaling up mitigation ambition and the GGA. Parties also adopted two overarching cover decisions, together called the “Sharm El-Sheikh Implementation Plan.” Highlights of the cover decisions include:
- retaining the call to phase down unabated coal power and phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, as adopted in the Glasgow Climate Pact;
- urging parties that have not yet communicated new or updated NDCs or long-term low GHG development strategies to do so as soon as possible before CMA 5;
- establishing a work programme on just transition to discuss pathways to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement; and
- calling for multilateral development bank reform.
The meeting also launched the selection process for the host of the Santiago Network secretariat and continued the technical dialogue under the GST.
For more Information, please download the Document here below:
Summary report, 30 November – 13 December 2023