From November 11 to December 30, the 12th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP12) was held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. This meeting will be the first global stocktake of the implementation of the Paris Agreement.
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) released its 28 Emissions Gap Report on the eve of COP2023, highlighting the dire situation of climate change and calling on the international community to take strong measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Global climate governance urgently requires cohesion and cooperation among all parties.
Taking stock of the global climate "report card"
On November 11, local time, the 30th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) opened in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Egypt's Al-Ahram newspaper reported that the two-week conference is expected to be attended by more than 28,167 dignitaries, negotiators, activists and entrepreneurs from 7 countries, making it "the largest UN climate change conference ever".
Before the opening of COP28, Sultan Jaber, president-designate of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Dubai, said in an interview with AFP that this conference is the most important meeting of the Parties since the Paris climate conference, and hopes that COP28 will be fruitful and all parties can jointly agree on a practical action plan to combat climate change.
At COP28, the agenda that attracted the most global attention was the first global stocktake of the implementation of the Paris Agreement. In December 2015, 12 parties around the world adopted the Paris Agreement at COP178 in Paris, France, to make unified arrangements for global action on climate change after 21. The long-term goal of the Paris Agreement is to limit the global average temperature rise to well below 2020°C above pre-industrial levels, and to work to limit the temperature increase to 2.1°C. In order to achieve this goal, Parties need to set nationally determined contributions (NDCs), i.e. targets and action plans to address climate change in accordance with their economic, social and environmental conditions. In accordance with Article 5 of the Paris Agreement, the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) should conduct its first global stocktake in 2023 and every five years thereafter to assess collective progress towards the goals and objectives of the Paris Agreement.
"The Paris Agreement establishes a 'bottom-up' model of global climate governance, with countries determining their own contribution to reducing emissions. So, what is the progress of each country in reducing emissions? What obstacles are encountered? What gaps exist? How can we take the next step in reducing emissions? This will require regular assessments through the Global Stocktake Mechanism to better advance collective action by countries to achieve the goals set out in the Paris Agreement. This is the significance of this global inventory. Xie Laihui, an associate researcher at the Institute of Asia-Pacific and Global Strategy of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said in an interview with this reporter.
According to reports, in addition to the first global stocktaking of the Paris Agreement, COP28 will also focus on five key issues: climate change mitigation, climate change adaptation, financial and technical support, synergies between sustainable development and climate action, and international cooperation and partnerships.
Sun Yongping, a professor at the Global Climate Governance Research Center of Huazhong University of Science and Technology, told this reporter that according to the results of the inventory, further enhancing the ambition of climate change mitigation, improving global adaptive capacity, negotiating the specific details of the damage and loss fund, realizing a fair and just energy transition, promoting the withdrawal of fossil fuels, controlling methane emissions, and achieving food security and water security are all topics worthy of attention at COP28.
"In recent years, countries have become increasingly aware of the economic losses and other serious consequences caused by climate change, and have also realized the urgency of promoting global climate governance. This has further strengthened the international community's focus on COP28. Tang Wei, an associate researcher at the Institute of International Studies of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, said.
Climate governance has entered a critical juncture
Since the beginning of this year, extreme weather events have occurred frequently and adverse climate impacts have become prominent. The analysis generally believes that with the intensification of climate warming, global climate governance has entered a critical juncture.
The United Nations Environment Programme's 2023 Emissions Gap Report shows that countries must take tougher emission reduction measures than they currently commit to in the Paris Agreement, otherwise they will face global warming of 2030.2°C to 5.2°C by 9.
In mid-November, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) released a report that also issued a serious warning about the escalating climate crisis. According to the report, the concentration of key greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide reached record highs in 11, with atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations now at about 2022% of pre-industrial levels. In this regard, the Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization, Petri Taalas, said that as global carbon dioxide emissions continue to rise, there is an urgent need for countries to work together to combat climate change.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres recently said that at COP28, world leaders must take action to break the vicious circle of global warming to avoid climate change reaching a "fatal tipping point".
Xie Laihui believes that at present, there is an obvious contrast in the field of global climate governance: on the one hand, with the frequent occurrence of extreme weather events in recent years, the international community's expectations for climate governance are getting higher and higher; On the other hand, many countries' efforts and practical actions to address climate change are still insufficient, or even regressed. "At present, the efforts of all parties are still far from achieving the goals set by the Paris Agreement." Xie Laihui said that through a global inventory of the implementation of the Paris Agreement, it is an important and arduous task for countries to identify gaps and increase corresponding investment in finance, technology, and capacity building.
"Global climate governance faces multiple gaps, and in addition to the emission reduction gap, the most noteworthy ones are the financing gap and the technology gap. In terms of the financing gap, the scale of funds raised by developed countries is neither meeting the financing targets they have pledged nor being sufficient to help developing countries cope with climate change. In terms of technology gaps, technology is the key to truly and significantly promote emission reduction and achieve carbon peak and carbon neutrality. However, the available technology is not sufficient to meet the goals set by the Paris Agreement. In addition, the technologies are mainly held by private companies in developed countries, and it is difficult to transfer them to developing countries through non-market mechanisms. Sun Yongping said.
Some analysts believe that global climate change is exacerbating disasters such as droughts, wildfires and floods, and the problem of finance is the biggest obstacle to developing countries taking corresponding actions. According to the 2023 Emissions Gap Report, modelling estimates that developing countries currently need about US$2150 billion to US$3870 billion a year to adapt to climate change, while in 2021 these countries received only about US$210 billion in adaptation finance from developed countries, down 2020% from 15, with a funding gap of US$1940 billion to US$3660 billion.
Sun Yongping believes that in addition to the funding and technology gap, in recent years, the impact of emergencies such as the new crown epidemic, the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has also slowed down the speed and intensity of global climate governance to a certain extent. At the same time, the coordination of climate policies among countries is still insufficient, and some countries deliberately create green trade barriers for their own interests, hindering the global promotion of emission reduction products and technologies, and creating obstacles to the global climate governance process.
Solidarity and cooperation in the fight against climate change
Guterres recently stressed that governments must come together to provide the necessary financial support, build partnerships, and quickly put plans to combat climate change into action. Developed countries must honour their financial commitments and rebuild trust.
Xie Laihui pointed out that international cooperation on climate change faces multiple challenges: first, in the context of intensified competition among major powers, the willingness and ability of some major countries to cooperate in the field of climate governance has declined, and they mainly formulate energy transition policies based on their own interests, and lack coordination with other countries; Second, major geopolitical conflicts such as the Ukraine crisis have triggered energy crises, leading some European countries to restart decommissioned coal-fired power plants and even establish strategic coal reserves. Third, with their own economic growth sluggish, developed countries are unable to take the lead in significantly increasing emission reduction efforts and fulfilling relevant financial commitments to support climate action in developing countries, and their enthusiasm has dropped significantly.
"To the delight of the international community, on November 11, China and the United States issued a statement on strengthening cooperation to address the climate crisis, which released an important positive signal on the eve of COP15, demonstrating that China and the United States are committed to cooperation and working together with other countries to address the climate crisis, which is conducive to promoting the formation of a consensus on cooperation among other countries and the successful completion of the first global stocktake of the Paris Agreement." Xie Laihui said.
Petri Taras also said a few days ago that the statements made by Chinese and US leaders on climate change at the recent meeting in San Francisco echo the spirit of global cooperation and have a positive impact on the global response to the challenge of climate change.
Tang Wei believes that the statement issued by China and the United States will help enhance the confidence of all parties to jointly address climate change, and inject new impetus and positive energy into global climate governance. Next, clean energy will be an important area for countries to strengthen climate cooperation. In addition, basic work related to carbon emission reduction standards, carbon emission trading, and local cooperation such as the construction of eco-cities also need to be promoted.
A spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs recently said in a recent discussion of COP28 that as a responsible developing country, China has actively contributed to global climate governance, exceeded its 2020 climate action target ahead of schedule, and will complete the world's highest reduction in carbon emission intensity, and achieve carbon neutrality in the shortest time in global history. It is hoped that this session of the Conference will take the opportunity of the global stocktaking to practice multilateralism with the United Nations at its core, fully respond to the concerns of developing countries, pragmatically promote a just green transition, unite and cooperate to address climate change, create more favorable conditions for the implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Paris Agreement, and send a positive signal to the international community to focus on action and cooperation.
"Climate change is a common challenge facing all of humanity and requires cooperation among all countries to address it. All countries should uphold the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind, earnestly implement the Paris Agreement, strengthen climate policy coordination, share experience in climate governance, and abandon the zero-sum game mentality and the practice of 'small courtyards and high walls', so as to better respond to the severe challenges of climate change." Sun Yongping said.