The annual UN climate conference (COP – Conference of the Parties) stands as a significant global forum, intended to provide hope in addressing the climate crisis. Yet, the reality often differs, leaving us frequently disillusioned with the outcomes.
The most ambitious goal to date was set in 2015 at COP 21 in Paris: the Paris Agreement led almost all countries to set climate objectives and commit to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. However, firstly, these objectives fall short in limiting global warming to the set target of below 2 degrees Celsius, ideally 1.5 degrees Celsius. Secondly, there exists a disparity between countries’ pledges and actual actions to reduce emissions.
At the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, wealthy nations also committed to providing $100 billion annually from 2020 to 2025 for loss and damages for countries already suffering from the impacts of the climate crisis. Last year, at COP 27 in Egypt, an international financing mechanism for this purpose was finally established. However, the initial $100 billion target has yet to be met, and there is still no official UN definition of what climate finance actually constitutes. The UNEP estimates the current adaptation finance gap in its Adaptation Gap Report, released in early November, at $194 to $366 billion per year. Moreover, a complete phase-out from all fossil fuels, primarily coal, was not agreed upon in Egypt.
COP 28 in Dubai: Doubts About Genuine Goals for Climate Justice
The upcoming COP 28 in Dubai from November 30 to December 12, 2023, is already overshadowed by controversy. Simultaneously, it is set to become the largest COP ever in terms of attendees. Hosted by the United Arab Emirates, with Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, presiding over the conference, the direction of the COP seems predetermined: representing fossil fuel interests and defending a “business as usual” approach whenever possible. This occurs at a time where each year and every decision are crucial to steer the fight against the climate crisis in the right direction.
Our international delegation, consisting of dedicated Climate Justice Ambassadors, will not accept this status quo and will be actively present, advocating for measures for climate justice and pushing for the implementation of the overarching goals of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). They will even participate in two side events (“Breaking Barriers: Gender Transformative Education as a Catalyst for Climate Justice” and “Youth Voices for Climate Action”) to represent their stances.
Filled with expectations and a considerable amount of skepticism, they will embark on this journey. We asked some of them: What are your expectations for this crucial conference, which is already in a bad light?
The Expectations of the Plant-for-the-Planet Delegation
Dharmendra (27) from India: Climate Justice Ambassador for Plant-for-the-Planet, COP 28 Delegate
“As we eagerly anticipate this significant climate conference, my expectations are grounded in the pursuit of meaningful progress towards global sustainability. I envision COP 28 as a platform for fostering international collaboration on environmental issues, specifically focusing on climate crisis and climate justice. My anticipated outcomes for COP 28 revolve around the following key areas:
• Ambitious Climate Commitments: I hope to witness nations committing to ambitious climate targets and concrete actions to mitigate the impacts of climate crisis. This includes a robust framework for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and transitioning to renewable energy sources.
• Equitable Climate Finance: Ensuring adequate and equitable financial support for developing nations to address climate crisis is crucial. I look forward to discussions that result in fair and accessible funding mechanisms, facilitating adaptation and resilience in vulnerable communities.
• Youth Involvement: Recognizing the role of youth in climate action, I anticipate increased acknowledgment and involvement of young activists and leaders in decision-making processes. Empowering the younger generation is pivotal for sustainable and inclusive solutions.
As for specific expectations concerning decision-makers and politicians, I hope to see genuine leadership and commitment from all participating nations. I urge decision-makers to prioritize the long-term health of our planet over short-term gains and consider the well-being of both current and future generations.”
Julius (25) from Kenya: Climate Justice Ambassador for Plant-for-the-Planet, COP 28 Delegate
“As a youth delegate hailing from the Global South, my anticipation for COP 28 is rooted in the pressing issues of loss and damage. I represent a region that has endured the harsh consequences of climate crisis, particularly in the form of prolonged droughts, which have drastically impacted our subsistence farming.
Over the past decade, our communities have borne the brunt of these weather-related challenges. Our livelihoods, primarily reliant on rain-fed agriculture, have been jeopardized by the erratic rainfall patterns. COP 28 provides an opportunity for me to address this concern on a global stage and to learn how the international community plans to handle loss and damage, particularly in vulnerable regions like mine. One of my primary expectations at COP28 is to explore how to bridge the gap between the aspirations of youth-led climate initiatives and the often complex donor requirements. It’s disheartening to witness the potential of young innovators stifled by stringent eligibility criteria, such as years of experience. We need a more accessible and equitable system that empowers youth-led projects to access funding, fostering innovation and driving collective action to combat climate crisis.
I look forward to engaging in meaningful discussions, collaborating with global leaders, and advocating for policies that address the specific needs of communities like mine. It is my hope that COP 28 will be a turning point in our journey towards a more climate-resilient and sustainable future, where the dreams of young climate activists can thrive without undue obstacles.”
Daniela (31) from México: Climate Justice Ambassador for Plant-for-the-Planet, COP 28 Delegate
““Think Global, Act Local” is one of the main mottos of the SGD´s but the least implemented within the governments at municipality level and enterprises. For me the main goal is to create enough alliances and opportunities with genuine leaders to design more sustainable solutions and capacities for adaptation. Let’s put in the center of the agenda, our natural ecosystems. NOW!”
Johann (22) from Germany: Climate Justice Ambassador for Plant-for-the-Planet, COP 28 Delegate
“At COP 28, my anticipation is centred on the critical role of finance as a catalyst for sustainable transformation. I expect to witness developed nations stepping up to honour their commitments, actively financing climate action across the globe. It’s a pivotal moment for the international community to converge on robust financial strategies that can accelerate our collective journey towards a zero-carbon and environmentally sustainable future. We are at a juncture where promises must be transformed into tangible support, empowering all nations to undertake the bold steps needed to combat climate change effectively.”
Kamran (27) from Pakistan: Climate Justice Ambassador for Plant-for-the-Planet, COP 28 Delegate
“As a climate activist from Pakistan, I have high hopes for COP 28 in the UAE when it comes to addressing the critical issue of loss and damages caused by climate crisis. It’s not just a concept; it’s a harsh reality for us. What we expect is quite straightforward. First and foremost, all nations, particularly those historically responsible for major greenhouse gas emissions, should recognize their role in causing the current climate crisis. This acknowledgment should be the foundation for any meaningful action.
Developed countries must step up and provide substantial financial support to developing nations like Pakistan. This support should be dependable and transparent, and it should be based on the principle that everyone has a part to play in addressing the climate crisis, but responsibilities differ. In practical terms, this means assisting us in coping with the loss and damage that climate crisis inflicts upon our communities and environment.
To be better prepared, we need to build our capacity to adapt to the changing climate. This includes transferring technology, knowledge, and skills that can help us mitigate the effects of climate crisis and reduce the losses we face in the future. Additionally, we believe COP 28 should advance discussions on establishing a strong legal framework for addressing loss and damages. This framework should provide clarity on liability and compensation for climate-induced losses.
The voices of the most affected communities should be heard and actively involved in decision-making processes. This ensures that their unique perspectives and needs are considered in crafting policies related to loss and damage. Creating innovative insurance mechanisms that offer financial protection to developing countries when catastrophic climate events strike is also crucial.
Moreover, supporting research and assessment mechanisms to accurately quantify climate-induced losses will help ensure a fair distribution of support among affected nations. We, as climate activists in Pakistan, are not mere observers; we are deeply affected stakeholders. Our planet’s future and the well-being of our people hinge on meaningful and equitable solutions. COP 28 provides a crucial platform to address these issues and work towards a sustainable future that benefits us all.”
Chris (26) from Nigeria: Climate Justice Ambassador for Plant-for-the-Planet, COP 28 Delegate
“With this special opportunity as a Plant-for-the-Planet COP 28 delegate, I am excited to witness again the positive sessions from different organizations working towards the same goal. The immense potential to make positive change every passionate attendee possesses is something to sort out for especially those who work on environmental conservation and sustainability. As I reflect on the state of our planet, the unprecedented challenges we face, especially the extreme changes in climate conditions for example this year being the hottest in a long time, I am curious to see the counter solutions discussed and the maximized efforts to equal the human activities that cause this problems. Every COP is an opportunity to see the loopholes and deficits in our fight against climate crisis. It is a time to see if they were actual actions taken between the previous COP and the upcoming one. Therefore, this opportunity for me is one to grasp by networking with other attendees working in environmental conservation, health, energy, equality and other sectors and to learn of their “NEXT GEN” solutions for climate justice.”
Caterina (22) from Germany: Climate Justice Ambassador for Plant-for-the-Planet, COP 28 Delegate
“As I look ahead to COP 28, I hold specific expectations concerning decision-makers and politicians to demonstrate visionary leadership and to convert words into action. I look forward to the conference not only as a platform for advocacy but also as an opportunity for learning. Climate negotiations and processes can be complex and multifaceted, and COP provides a setting to deepen my understanding of the intricacies involved in international climate negotiations and agreements. I’m looking forward to participating in discussions, networking with others – experiencing COP, so to speak. I am eager to connect with other youth activists and like-minded organizations. The power of collective action and collaboration cannot be overstated in the fight against the climate crisis. So, I see this event as an opportunity for change in the fight against the climate crisis, but also personally as a chance to collaborate, learn, and connect.”
A heartfelt gratitude to each delegate for their unwavering dedication and contributions.
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