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Summit Action: Speeding up Country Net-Zero Targets by 2030

Parties gather to negotiate elements of the Sharm el-Sheikh joint work on implementation of climate action on agriculture and food security (Photo credit: Criselle Mejillano)

Opening of the World Climate Action Summit

Day Two of COP28 opened with the arrival of Heads of States for the World Climate Action Summit (WCAS) to deliver statements and announce their commitments to transform pledges into real action on-the-ground. It was a hectic start of the day, and with stringent security protocols in place, Blue and Green Zone delegates were herded into an hour-long walk and lengthy queues before entering the venue. Food accessibility is also a growing concern as observers endured high prices and long lines beneath the scorching sun.

The gathered leaders were welcomed by United Arab Emirates President Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan who stated that the UAE has an “established record on climate action.”

UN Secretary General António Guterres then took to the stage and reiterated that keeping the goal of 1.5°C alive is only possible if fossil fuels are phased out with a clear timeline. He emphasized that developed countries need to lead in speeding up their net-zero targets by 2030. He also pointed out that “oil and gas companies’ investments in renewable energy accounted to only 1%”. Guterres strongly urged developed countries to commit to doubling up climate finance by USD 40 billion annually by 2025. COP28 will be successful only if these calls are met, and if the Global Stocktake truly delivers on ambitious and realistic action.

World leaders proceeded to share their statements, and a deepened understanding and recognition of the urgency that the science has been stating resounded in many of the statements. United Kingdom Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s statement on meeting net-zero targets in a pragmatic way that “benefits the British people” was taken poorly. King Charles III statement was better received as he emphasized that progress towards climate goals has fallen off track, and asked, “how dangerous are we actually prepared to make our world?”

Brazil President and COP30 host Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva emphasized that climate change cannot be addressed without combatting inequality. He committed to halt deforestation in the Amazon Rainforest by 2030, meanwhile, Brazil is the second second-largest soybean, beef and poultry producer according to a report by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen urged the world leaders to step up in delivering climate finance goals, as the European Union contributed USD 30 billion in 2023, and has pledged USD 270 million to the Loss and Damage fund.

Blue and Green Zone endure long queues at the entrance in line with stringent security measures during the WCAS (photo credit: Criselle Mejillano)

Grappling with the climate-food-water security nexus

Later in the afternoon, an informal consultation was held by the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI 11) with the Parties on the Sharm el-Sheikh joint work on implementation of climate action on agriculture and food security. This is a critical process with food, water, and livelihood security at stake.

However, a consensus on how to proceed was not reached. Global South Parties urged to build from the informal note on the joint work’s elements released during the Bonn Climate Change Conference 2023 (SB 58). The Global North Parties such as USA, EU, Norway, and Australia vied to start from a ‘clean sheet.’

A group of Catholic Actors that observed the negotiation process gathered and exchanged insights. There seems to be a sense of mistrust between both sides of the Parties due to hidden agendas that inhibited a consensus. It was still a far cry from an agroecological process, and the group sought to engage with negotiators focused on the joint work from the Global South to better understand the limitations of the process such as the tiptoeing around industrial agriculture.

DeSmog, an independent investigative journalism body on science and climate action, recently released an interactive map of industrial agricultural giants present at COP28 and the extent of opportunities for them to influence discussions in their favor. This is a key shift from past COPs wherein the fossil fuel industry lobbyists were under the spotlight.

“Who decisionmakers decide to listen to will determine whether the UAE summit will deliver on results that safeguard climate and nature,” DeSmog stated.

A stronger voice from the Great Ocean States

At the end of the day, Parties from the ccean states gathered for a high-level side-event on Enhanced Transparency for Small Island Developing States (SIDS). The event underscored how ocean states are leading climate action by driving NDC implementation and highlighted a strengthened voice in the process.

The WCAS will conclude on 2 December and will set the stage for the forthcoming negotiations.

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