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COP28 aims to bolster climate action, reinforcing Paris Agreement as a global cornerstone

COP28 aims to bolster climate action, reinforcing Paris Agreement as a global cornerstone
11 Nov 2023 13:24

ABU DHABI (WAM) - The unprecedented heatwaves that hit different parts of the world in July and August of last year caused widespread disruptions in many countries, leading to forest fires, water and food shortages, and hurricanes that killed thousands of people. This has accelerated the global momentum for effective solutions that world leaders will take to address climate change at COP28, which will be hosted by Expo City in Dubai from November 30-December 12.

This edition of the conference marks a turning point in the history of climate change mitigation, following the Paris Agreement (COP21) held in France in 2015, which is the first legally binding global agreement to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius and pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Resilient Solutions

The parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) reached an agreement in Paris in 2015 (COP21) that was described as "historic," aimed at strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping the average global temperature rise this century below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature rise further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The most important provisions of the Paris Agreement include addressing the issue of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, finding solutions to adapt to them, mitigating their impact on the environment, and requiring industrialised countries to facilitate the transfer of technology and adaptation to a carbon-free economy. The agreement also provides for two review processes, each over five years, until 2025.

The Paris Agreement entered into force in 2016 after 195 countries that are party to the UNFCCC signed the agreement in December 2015 and 191 out of 197 countries ratified it.

The first global stocktake of progress made in implementing the goals of the Paris Agreement will begin at COP28. This is a measurement mechanism that tracks the progress of countries in meeting their climate commitments. This process will encourage countries to take ambitious climate action to keep the temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Recalibrating the course

In September 2023, the United Nations said on its website, "The 28th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28), must be the point at which we begin to recalibrate the course."

Estimates from the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) indicated that August 2023 was about 1.5 degrees Celsius warmer than the average temperature in the pre-industrial period between 1850-1900.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres described the climate crisis as "having opened the gates of hell," adding in his opening remarks to the Climate Summit, which was held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly's annual meetings in September 2023, "that we can still limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. However, strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change is still very difficult, especially in developing countries, due to their need for funding. The implementation of climate pledges to reduce carbon emissions and rely on clean energy is also difficult for most countries, especially developing ones."

In September 2021, World Health Organisation (WHO) issued Global Air Quality Guidelines, which state that every year, exposure to air pollution is estimated to cause 7 million premature deaths and result in the loss of millions more healthy years of life. Since WHO’s last 2005 global update, there has been a marked increase of evidence that shows how air pollution affects different aspects of health.

“Air pollution is a threat to health in all countries, but it hits people in low- and middle-income countries the hardest,” said WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “WHO’s new Air Quality Guidelines are an evidence-based and practical tool for improving the quality of the air on which all life depends. I urge all countries and all those fighting to protect our environment to put them to use to reduce suffering and save lives.”

The United Nations reported that energy is at the heart of the climate challenge and is the key to the solution. It points out that fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, and gas, are by far the largest contributor to global climate change, accounting for more than 75 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and about 90 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions.

The organisation affirms that to avoid the worst effects of climate change, emissions must be reduced by nearly half by 2030 and reach zero by 2050. It notes that the world needs, to achieve these efforts, to end our reliance on fossil fuels and invest in alternative sources of energy that are clean, accessible, affordable, sustainable, and reliable.

Renewable energy sources – which are available in abundance all around us, provided by the sun, wind, water, waste, and heat from the Earth – are replenished by nature and emit little to no greenhouse gases or pollutants into the air.

The UN continued, "Fossil fuels still account for more than 80 percent of global energy production, but cleaner sources of energy are gaining ground. About 29 percent of electricity currently comes from renewable sources."

Source: WAM
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