There are two crucial messages which have emerged from the ongoing deliberations at COP28 in Dubai, which concludes on December 12. One is that there is an urgent global need to accelerate measures to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius as agreed upon, under the Paris Agreement. The other is that finance must be provided to contain global warming and there is the urgent need to operationalise the earlier agreed upon loss and damage fund, which will help countries/communities to mitigate the negative consequences that arise from climate change.

In fact, on the first day of the meet, member countries agreed that financial commitment was a required for the loss and damage fund. So, $655.9 million was pledged towards the fund, to be based at the World Bank. Of this, UAE and Germany contributed $100 million each, the UK $50.6 million, the EU $145 million; the US gave just $17 million, among some others.

Call for clarity

Early observations from experts show that while the move itself augurs well, many aspects of the fund are not yet known, including who will benefit from it. Given the huge funding required, some feel these questions need to get a lot clearer and the fund a lot bigger with greater commitment.

While COP28 saw negotiations across a number of concerns and pledges, wider climate finance flows to support temperature goals became a key issue for developing nations, particularly the low-income countries.

Some commitments were made at the meet. The UAE, as the host, pledged $30 billion into a new climate finance fund — Alterra — aimed as a catalytic fund to reduce emissions in the global South. Alterra will raise $250 billion by 2030, along with other partners.

But is that enough? Notes Sumit Prasad, Programme Lead, Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), “Several significant green financial commitments were made at COP28... But a lot more must be done considering the trillions of dollars required by developing nations to fulfill their commitments towards collective and quantified goals.”

Discussions at the COP28 meet underscored the pressing need for transformative action given the inevitability of overshooting the 1.5 degrees target. It emphasized the urgent need for a fossil fuel phase-out.

Prof. Johan Rockstrom, Director, Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research, was very clear about the urgency of the situation. “COP28 must get serious about phasing out fossil fuels. Dubai is the grand mitigation moment for coal, oil and gas, which need to shift from increasing 1 per cent yearly to decreasing globally by at least five per cent per year, and for nature by protecting remaining carbon sinks and stocks in ecosystems, plus building resilience and new carbon sinks in agriculture. So far, we have failed on both nature and energy, taking us on a dangerous path towards losing sight of the Paris Agreement’s targets.”

Indian contribution

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has emphasised India’s commitment to bringing down the emission intensity by 45 per cent and increasing the share of non-fossil fuels by 50 per cent, by 2030. He also welcomed the $30 billion Climate Investment Fund and underlined the need for increasing climate finance commitments from billions to trillions.

There was considerable discussion on phasing down of fossil fuels and tripling of renewable energy at COP 28. Making out a case for an orderly and just phase out, COP28 President, Sultan Al Jaber, stressed on speeding up the energy transition. “The world will break down if we don’t mitigate emissions at a giga tonne scale,” he said.

India has made it clear that it could not be forced into early phase out of fossil fuels. In a significant move, 118 nations signed up to triple renewable energy capacity by 2030, a key issue articulated earlier at the G20 summit in Delhi. So instead of phasing out fossil fuels, the pledge calls for accelerating the deployment of renewables and ending investment in new coal-fired plants.

A key aspect of addressing climate concerns involves the developed world financially assisting developing countries. By 2030 an estimated $5.9 trillion is needed by the developing world to achieve climate goals. Clearly, an uphill task.