COP28: wrap-up and reflections

A pivotal moment in climate action – insights and implications COP28

As the dust settles, concluding a day over schedule, COP28 marked a significant halfway point in achieving the goals set by the Paris agreement. King Charles, in his opening address, poignantly described humanity's actions as a "vast, frightening experiment" on our planet. This set the tone for a conference filled with urgent calls to action and a mixture of hope, compromise, and controversy.

The Global Stocktake

A standout feature of COP28 was its first-ever Global Stocktake, an initiative to assess progress across four key areas: climate change context, mitigation, adaptation, and the implementation of climate finance. The Stocktake, scheduled every five years, is vital in providing a holistic view of where we stand in our fight against climate change.

Financial commitments and the loss and damage fund

Week one saw significant financial announcements, including the launch of the long-awaited loss and damage fund. This initiative, a critical step forward, acknowledges the need for rich historically polluting countries to compensate poorer and vulnerable nations already bearing the brunt of climate change. Although the initial pledges seem 'lukewarm', accumulating $700 billion from developed nations symbolises a landmark shift in climate justice.

Unifying carbon markets standards

In addition, several of the world’s largest carbon crediting programmes have announced a collaboration to increase the impact of activities under their standards. The pledge, signed by Verra, Gold Standard, Climate Action Reserve, ACR, ART, and the Global Carbon Council, outlines a number of critical activities designed to help amplify the impact of carbon markets. These activities include aligning standards to common principles, improving transparency around the use of carbon credits, and working to improve and enhance the flow of finance to developing countries. The goal of this collaboration is to enhance transparency and consistency across the market.

The fossil fuel phase out controversy

Week two was fraught with frustration and controversy around the language for phasing out fossil fuels. The conference concluded at the thirteenth hour with the historic ‘new path for the world’ agreement, marking the first explicit commitment by world governments to ‘transition away from fossil fuels’. This agreement, though seen as a compromise by some, is a significant stride, signalling ‘the beginning of the end’ for the fossil fuel era. The agreement calls for “a just, orderly and equitable” transition, suggesting richer countries to move away from coal, oil and gas more quickly.

A key component of the agreement is the commitment to supporting nature-based solutions and tripling renewable energy capacities by 2030. In addition, the agreement commits to double the rate of energy efficiency improvements, calling on all countries to rapidly scale up the critical innovations and carbon capture technologies needed to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate the effects of climate change.

While some regard the outcomes as a compromise, hoping for a complete phase out, for others, this marks a historic outcome as the first COP to address fossil fuels directly.

Practical implications of COP28 for your organisation

In light of COP28, business and finance leaders are at a crossroads. Despite some contradictions in UK energy policies, as observed his year, there is a clear, irreversible momentum towards sustainable practices. Forward-thinking leaders must adopt an opportunity mindset, focusing on innovation in renewable energy and sustainable supply chains. Investment in green technologies is not just an environmental need but a long-term economic strategy, addressing both the energy and cost of living crises. Questions organisations should consider…

  • How climate resilient are your operations and investments today?
  • How will your business operate in a future with less fossil fuels?
  • What does that mean for your supply chain?

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Every piece of content we create is correct on the date it’s published but please don’t rely on it as legal advice. If you’d like to speak to us about your own legal requirements, please contact one of our expert lawyers.

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