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Ecojesuit sharing challenges, expectations, and hopes for COP28 and beyond

Ecojesuit at COP28 team connecting virtually with network partners and collaborators (photo credit: Pedro Walpole SJ)

After a day of rest (and much writing), COP28 resumed with negotiations heating up for the remaining days. Ecojesuit held a simple discussion with in-person and virtual network partners and collaborators to share recent developments, to listen to each other’s reflections and insights, and to express the experience of hope in the coming days.

Some of the updates that the Ecojesuit at COP28 team shared in relation to the themes of the commitment statement include the following:

1. Course-correcting adaptation and mitigation deficiencies. On 6 December, the first draft text of the Global Stocktake (GST) was released for further negotiation. Highlights of the text included the following:

  • Emphasized the critical role of multilateralism and international cooperation to achieve socioeconomic development
  • Called for an orderly and just phaseout of fossil fuels
  • Tripling of renewable energy capacity globally by 2030
  • Scaling up by 2030 low-emission technologies “such as carbon capture and storage”
  • Acknowledged the insufficiency of climate finance provision as estimated adaptation costs “are now approximately 10–18 times as much as international public adaptation finance flows.”
  • Called for the establishment of an implementation programme of the Loss and Damage fund and adaptation fund

While the reference of just fossil fuel phaseout in the text is a significant advancement, technologies such as carbon capture and storage (CCS) are being proposed as solutions. There also no references in the text to food security in the climate action. Several civil society groups are in the process of engaging their country negotiators to push for the inclusion of food systems.

2. Loss and damage, and climate finance. At this stage, the total amount pledged for the Loss and Damage Fund is USD 700 million which is only 0.4% to what climate vulnerable communities need. In a civil society-led side-event hosted by CIDSE, Climate Action Network International, ActionAid, and Christian Aid, the issues of governance and hosting, access and principles, and filling the fund with real finance were unpacked. The discussion explored realistic ways that civil society can stay engaged, and keep the loss and damage fight alive locally, nationally, and globally.

3. Just energy transition. The draft GST text’s emphasis on an orderly and just fossil fuel phaseout, an alarming number of 2,456 fossil fuel lobbyists present at COP28 have been recorded. This overshadows representation from the most vulnerable communities and Indigenous communities. Moreover, the COP28 president and other developed nations continue to push for “phasing out of unabated fossil fuels” and not “phaseout” that is repeatedly raised by climate scientists. In a side event, the chairs and co-chairs of IPCC emphasized that it is highly likely that warming will go over 1.5°C and by 2030, it will be much more difficult to limit warming below 2°C, and phasing out fossil fuels is the only way to keep warming below the 1.5°C threshold.

4. Food security and climate action. The draft decision text of the Sharm El-sheikh Joint Work on implementation of climate action on agriculture and food security (SSJW) was also released on 6 December and highlighted 3 key decision points:

  • Establishment of a coordination group that guarantees representation of all UN geopolitical regional groups to facilitate and catalyze collaboration in addressing food and climate concerns
  • Organize hybrid workshops on topics under the SSJW (Annex II, page 6). Workshop topic 2 include “approaches to sustainable agriculture and food security: understanding and cooperation” and specifies agroecology as one of the approaches
  • Operationalize an online portal for sharing information submitted by Parties and observer organizations

While this is a step forward, DeSmog reported 340 agribusiness lobbyists from meat and pesticide firms, and industrial agriculture trade giants. An interactive map crafted by DeSmog laid out the agribusiness firms and where they are engaging in the COP discussions – most of them are observers, but some managed to be a part of Party delegations.

Ecojesuit network partners and collaborators proceeded to share their reflections and insights.

Charles Chilufya SJ who is representing the Jesuit Justice and Ecology Network Africa (JENA) further elaborated on the moral dimension of climate finance and just transition. Even if the Global North delivers on its climate finance, loss and damage, and adaptation fund commitments for the Global South, the climate crisis will remain pervasive unless a just transition occurs. Moreover, Global South countries particularly in Africa are concerned with the potential debt that will accumulate to keep up with the energy transition. Charles also pointed out that human rights is not adequately reflected in the GST text.

Ngonidzashe Edward SJ from the Jesuit Ecology and Development Centre (JCED) highlighted the historic UAE Declaration on Climate and Health backed by over 120 countries. The declaration underscores the climate-health nexus, and that it would be an interesting topic to take up.

Rev. Fr. Paul Mung’athia Igweta from the diocese of Meru, Kenya cited concerns that the Loss and Damage Fund board being formed has more Global North representatives. Paul emphasized that the Loss and Damage Fund is not just about money as lives and cultures are also lost.

Cristóbal Emilfork SJ, a Jesuit priest from Chile working on environmental anthropology, shared that the Indigenous Peoples Pavilion is sharing the same pavilion as the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). He also observed that many of the participants seemed to be engaging in COP28 for business purposes. Given the technicalities of the process, Cristóbal also shared about a helpful daily COP28 bulletin that simplifies the highly technical language.

Filipe Martins SJ from the Jesuit European Social Centre (JESC) reflected that as COP28 discussions unfold, there is an increased dependence on technological solutions and that this can become dangerous.

After a brief exchange of words of encouragement as engagement with the process continues, Pedro Walpole SJ highlighted that while there are uncertainties still left as to what COP28 will be able to achieve, a positive outcome is that all Party representatives realize the urgency that science is raising. We need to be remined about Pope Francis’ message of reconciliation and finding ways to animate this in different contexts.

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