Reflections on COP28

by Megan Rowling, Deputy Climate Editor, Context
Wednesday, 20 December 2023 12:43 GMT

A view of Dubai's Expo City during the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) Climate Summit in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, November 30, 2023. REUTERS/Amr Alfiky

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We’re coming to the end of what will have been the hottest year on record. As the impacts of climate change hit people harder around the world, the need to tackle the root cause of global warming - the burning of coal, oil and gas – has become more urgent. As Context’s correspondents reported from this month’s COP28 U.N. climate summit in Dubai, the big question was whether governments would agree to a phase-out of fossil fuels. In the end, pushback from vested interests prevented that. But there was a deal to transition away from fossil fuels in the world’s energy systems, which was heralded as “the beginning of the end” for those polluting fuels.

A climate activist arranges artwork against fossil fuels at Dubai's Expo City during the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP28 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, December 12, 2023. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya/File Photo

Will that be enough to keep global warming to the lowest Paris Agreement limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius? Unlikely, scientists said. That makes it even more important that COP28 gave birth to a long-awaited fund to help vulnerable countries and communities deal with the rising “loss and damage” caused by extreme weather and rising seas. The summit also heard developing nations call for more finance so they can leapfrog to economies driven by green energy and enable a “just transition” that does not leave countries and workers in high-carbon industries behind.

A community solar project in Gloversville, New York. October 19, 2021. Nexamp/Handout via Thomson Reuters Foundation

In addition, this year’s COP saw a host of new declarations on themes that have come into the climate-change fold relatively recently - from food systems to health and helping conflict-affected states adapt. All of this left our three tireless correspondents in Dubai sprinting between events in the sprawling Expo City, along with some 65,000 other delegates, to bring Context readers a range of voices, from climate justice leaders like Mary Robinson to AI experts and a conservation warden protecting carbon-storing mangroves on Tanzania’s Mafia Island. Find out more from our COP28 collection and follow Context Climate on X

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