What You Need to Know.
- The UNFCCC has released a draft text of the negotiated outcome of the first Global Stocktake under the Paris Agreement. The draft text currently includes four options to address the question of “phasing out” versus “phasing down” the use of fossil fuels, with the strongest option’s wording being “[a] phase out of fossil fuels in line with best available science.” Options with weaker wording would call on the Parties to the Paris Agreement to take action towards “phasing out unabated fossil fuels and to rapidly reducing their use so as to achieve net-zero CO2 in energy systems by or around mid-century.”
- The distinction between “abated” and “unabated” fossil fuels and the meaning of “abated” are being hotly debated, with many commentators warning about the potential of creating a loophole through legal ambiguity. This draft text will form the basis of intense high-level negotiations between global leaders over the next days.
- Vanuatu and Tuvalu have renewed calls for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation treaty to address the climate crisis. Such a treaty is being promoted by supporters as an alternative to the COP process if world leaders cannot agree to phase out fossil fuels.
- The governments of Armenia and Azerbaijan—until recently at war with each other—issued a joint statement acknowledging not only a “historical chance to achieve long-awaited peace in the region” but confirming that as a “sign of good gesture” Armenia would support Azerbaijan’s bid to host COP29. Hours later, Russia reportedly blocked Azerbaijan’s bid, according to EU diplomats. If countries cannot agree, Germany will be the default host country. Looking further ahead, COP30 in 2025 is widely expected to be hosted by Brazil.
- December 8 was “Youth Day,” and featured events focused on empowering and elevating the voices of young people in the climate negotiation process. Shamma Al Mazrui, COP28’s “Youth Climate Champion” and the UAE’s Minister of Community Development, stated in remarks, “when young people have a seat at the table and a voice in decision making they become agents of change.”
- Leading up to COP28, a “Global Youth Statement” that synthesizes collective climate policy demands and proposals of young people, was provided to the UNFCCC and COP28 Presidency by YOUNGO, the official children and youth constituency of the UNFCCC. The statement includes demands for a “just, equitable and secure transition to a fossil fuel phase-out” and more financial support for vulnerable communities to address the impacts of climate change.
Why This Matters for Businesses.
- The negotiations on the Global Stocktake and the resolution, in either direction, of the “phase out versus phase down” debate will be an important signal for the seriousness of governments’ climate policy in the coming years. As the Inflation Reduction Act in the United States has made clear, businesses stand to gain from aligning their objectives with the trajectories of national climate policies. And the numerous declarations made by members of the private sector over the course of COP29 demonstrate that many businesses are committed to act even without government taking the lead.
- The host nation and respective COP President-Designate has strong repercussions for the outcome of the COP and in turn for the business community. The COP28 Presidency not only influences the substantive agenda for the conference but also the venue and general organization of the meetings and negotiations. With COPs increasingly serving as a global agora for climate change and energy issues—and COP28 being the largest ever conference with over 84,000 attendees —businesses should monitor how next year’s COP Presidency provides space and support to non-government stakeholders from the private sector and civil society.
“While public attention over the next days will focus on the important ‘phase out’ debate, our planet’s warming will also be impacted by the dozens of less visible compromises on procedures and concrete commitments under the COP umbrella. It is important for leaders to get out of their ‘comfort zones’ on these issues as well. Together, these commitments can help or hinder real, meaningful climate action.”
—Carol Browner, Senior Of Counsel, ESG Practice Group
More News and Developments.
- Lottie Limb, Indigenous Children in Colombia Were Given Cameras to Capture Climate Change. Here are Their Photos, EuroNews (Dec. 8, 2023), https://www.euronews.com/green/2023/12/08/indigenous-children-in-colombia-were-given-cameras-to-capture-climate-change-here-are-thei.
- David Gelles, Lisa Friedman, and Vivian Nereim, It’s Big Oil vs. Science at the U.N. Climate Summit, The New York Times (Dec. 8, 2023), https://www.nytimes.com/2023/12/05/climate/cop28-fossil-fuels.html.
- Ewa Krukowska, Carbon Market Push at COP28 Tries to Fix Scandal-Tainted Credits, Bloomberg (Dec. 8, 2023), https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2023-12-08/cop28-carbon-market-push-tries-to-fix-scandal-tainted-credits.
Covington’s multidisciplinary COP28 delegation includes leaders of Covington’s ESG, Environment, Energy, Project Development and Finance, Corporate, and Public Policy practices, as well as our unique Carbon Management and Climate Mitigation (CM2) initiative. Our comprehensive and integrated global team is ready to assist clients as they prepare for COP28, engage with key stakeholders while there, and then strategize about and successfully implement ESG corporate policies aligned with COP28 goals. Follow our Climate Hub for Businesses to stay up to date with the latest developments from COP28.