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COP28's first week: controversies and some progress

As the first week of the COP28 UN Climate Summit wraps up, the world is at a pivotal moment in the fight against climate change. The summit has been a stage for both significant commitments and heated debates, especially regarding the fossil fuel industry's role in climate negotiations. All the while, 2023 is set to be the hottest year on record, and Earth has temporarily experienced 2C warming above the pre-industrial levels - a crucial threshold that, if stabilized, could have catastrophic and irreversible impacts on the planet and its ecosystems.


Renewable energy pledges


To meet the Paris climate agreement goal of limiting global heating to 1.5°C, experts have highlighted the need for a 43% reduction in emissions by the end of the decade. In a significant response, 118 governments, led by the EU, the US, and the UAE, pledged to triple the world's renewable energy capacity by 2030, targeting 10,000 gigawatts of installed renewable energy.


The increasing role of climate finance


The summit emphasized the increasing importance of climate finance. A notable initiative, the Loss and Damage Fund, was announced on the first day. Seen as a historic milestone, particularly by developing and emerging economies, the fund, however, has only secured $700 million in pledges, covering less than 0.2% of the estimated annual need.


Fossil fuel industry’s impact on COP


A central issue at COP28 has been the influence of the fossil fuel industry on the climate negotiation process. Criticized for its major role in the climate crisis and deceptive public opinion campaigns, the industry's significant presence at the summit – with over 2,400 lobbyists – has raised serious concerns. This, along with the revelation of the COP28 Presidency potentially using the summit to secure fossil fuel deals and the COP28 President’s comments contrary to the UN and IPCC's stance, underscores the need for rebuilding trust in the COP process. Additionally, with fossil fuel subsidies reaching a staggering $7 trillion annually, calls for their elimination, led by figures like U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, have intensified.


Looking ahead


As COP28 continues, the world is keen to see if the commitments will translate into concrete actions and if the summit will address the need to phase out fossil fuels. The outcomes of COP28 are crucial in determining the future course of global climate action.


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