Here is a look at the main results of the UN’s last five COPs and their current status as COP28 gets underway in Dubai.
The annual United Nations climate change conference begins on Thursday in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), bringing together world leaders and scientists to debate growing greenhouse gas emissions and their consequences on climate.
The main topics of discussion during the conference, officially known as the UN Conference of the Parties (COP28), will be strategies to lessen dependency on fossil fuels and the creation of an international fund to aid with climate adaption.
nations are expected to assess their progress toward the 2015 Paris Agreement, an international treaty that binds them to limiting the rise in global temperature by 2030 to 1.5 degrees Celsius (34.7 degrees Fahrenheit) beyond pre-industrial levels. Based on these evaluations, COP28 will oblige nations to modify their climate policies.
However, the Gulf Emirates have refuted claims that they are engaging in “greenwashing,” an allegation that has sparked controversy surrounding the meeting. The practice of spreading erroneous or misleading information about an activity’s advantages to the environment is known as “greenwashing.”
The choice to host the largest climate meeting in history in a nation whose economy is mostly dependent on the production of oil and gas has drawn criticism from scientists and environmentalists. Opponents have also taken issue with the UAE government’s choice to choose Sultan al-Jaber as CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company.
The most recent meeting begins against a backdrop of unfulfilled promises as disagreements have caused attempts to solve the climate threat to stagnate. Industrialized nations have been under pressure from the global south to step up their efforts in the battle against climate change.
Here is all you need to know about the outcomes and implications of the last five climate summits:
In 2022, COP27
Where: Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt Presidency: Sameh Shoukry, Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs
Principal result: Damages and loss fund
A key topic of controversy at COP27 was climate finance, with a loss and damage fund established to aid developing nations devastated by climate consequences.
This year, record-breaking droughts, wildfires, and floods have caused billions of dollars’ worth of damage worldwide. According to Yale Climate Connections, just three significant global weather events—hurricanes and droughts in the US and Europe—cost more than $150 billion in 2018. Pakistan suffered the worst flood disaster to date last year, with damages estimated to have cost $15 billion.
However, nations have been unable to agree on who will contribute the most money to the loss and damage fund and how much. At COP28, it is anticipated to be operationalized.
A group of poor nations suggested in September that by 2030, developed countries should contribute at least $100 billion to the loss and damage fund. They contend that industrialized nations need to lead the charge in resolving the climate catastrophe because they are primarily responsible for the majority of carbon emissions.
“The COP summit provides a unique opportunity for governments in the global south to observe the developed world and receive equal treatment.” Deborah Ramalope, head of Climate Analytics’ climate policy analysis, noted that the agreement reached on Loss and Damage last year is a prime illustration of this.
But things have not gone as planned outside the climate summit’s bargaining rooms.
Where: Glasgow, Scotland; British Parliamentary Alok Sharma is the president
Principal result: the Paris Accords Rulebook and the Glasgow Pact agreement
Building on the Paris Accords, the Glasgow Pact of COP26 outlined a strategy for addressing climate change. They reached consensus on uniform deadlines for reducing emissions and on guidelines for international carbon markets.
Emissions are effectively priced via carbon markets, which enable emitters to offset their emissions. By contributing to initiatives that reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere, they can offset their inevitable emissions.
The Paris Agreement was implemented in 2015, and although global temperature has dropped since then, progress has stagnated in the last year, according to a 2022 study by Climate Analytics’ Climate Action Tracker.
The Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero was also formed at the meeting. As a result, 450 businesses with over $130 trillion in private capital committed to quickening the shift to a net-zero economy.
Even though businesses promote net-zero development, there are situations where this leaves out carbon emissions from every stage of their operations, including those of third-party suppliers. Owing to these gaps, proponents of climate change have advocated for more aggressive measures to combat “greenwashing.”
Where: Spain’s Madrid
Carolina Schmidt, the Chilean Minister of Environment, is the president.
Principal result: Finalizing the Paris Agreement Rulebook’s provisions
At COP25, no significant new agreements were declared. Nonetheless, nations improved their emissions pledges in the direction of the Paris Agreement.
Millions of people demonstrated in front of the conference, calling for immediate action to address the global climate problem. Time has named Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg Person of the Year in 2019 after she orchestrated strikes to put pressure on the global community to take action.
COP25 leaders attempted to establish an official global carbon market for emission reductions, but they were unable to reach a consensus on a strong set of regulations.
Where: Poland’s Katowice
Michal Kurtyka, the Polish Energy Minister, is the president.
Principal result: Gender Action Plan
Beginning in 2024, nations pledged to evaluate their progress toward the Paris Agreement every two years. At COP28, this “global stocktake” is now happening.
The summit restated a 2009 COP15 commitment that has yet to be fulfilled: industrialized nations will provide developing nations with $100 billion year until 2020 to help them adapt to climate change.
Even though states agreed to the measures when they initially began signing the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1992, they were unable to come to an agreement on carbon markets and emissions trading.
Through the use of financial incentives like tax breaks, emissions trading aims to lower the carbon emissions of businesses.
Nonetheless, the fossil fuel sector has been a significant contributor to emissions, accounting for 89% of global emissions in 2018, according to ClientEarth. Climate activists claim that strong progress on climate change measures is impeded when leaders in the oil and gas industry are involved in conferences like COP. This is because of their financial interests.
“We find that many of the oil and gas leaders in these debates are unwilling to face the truth that the science dictates,” Ramelope added. “This is the problem with them. “We need to decarbonize our societies, which means we need to drastically reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, in order to limit warming to 1.5C.”
Rather, despite their inefficiency, carbon capture and storage have been pushed as answers, she continued.
By either treating or storing carbon dioxide emissions from subterranean enterprises, carbon capture and storage lessens the pollution they cause to the environment.
Where: Germany’s Bonn
Presidency: Fijian Government
Principal Results: Gender Action Plan and the Paris Agreement Adaptation Fund
With Fiji’s leadership, this summit offered a first for small-island developing states as climate initiatives pushed toward inclusion. Fiji, one of several such governments threatened by increasing sea levels, took use of the occasion to introduce the Ocean Pathway initiative, which aims to address the connection between oceans and climate change.
At COP, the Paris Agreement was ratified by every member of the UN for the first time. However, there was also some regression when the US, led by then-President Donald Trump, declared the country would withdraw from the Paris Accords five months before to the conference.
In order to promote more inclusive policy, monitoring, and climate action, the UNFCC also approved its first-ever gender action plan.
Participants at COP23 agreed that the Adaptation Fund, created by COP7 in 2001 to assist poor nations in adjusting to the adverse effects of climate change, will serve the Paris Agreement.