Each year as the annual Conference of the Parties (COP) on climate rolls around, we ask our Palladium experts about their hopes and expectations. The conference has convened UN member states for nearly 30 years to assess our global progress in the fight against climate change and plan for future action. It always sparks controversy and conversation.
This year’s COP28 will be held in Dubai and will focus on four key themes: health, water, food, and nature.
Palladium co-CEO Jose Maria Ortiz is glad to see nature back on the agenda. “My hope is that nature will be much more prominent than at COP27, where it disappeared from the conversation altogether.”
The Role of Finance
“I also hope we see a much bigger commitment from the global north to support the global south to mitigate and adapt to the new climate reality, which is driving immigration, poverty, and more,” adds Ortiz. “And that support needs to be real, actual money, for problems that require real funding and commitments.”
Florian Kemmerich, Palladium Managing Director of Fund Placement, adds that many of the pledges seen at COP are just that – pledges. “It doesn’t result in anything without implementation, but the conference is necessary because people need to come together to discuss these problems and find solutions.”
Last year’s COP saw the establishment of the loss and damage fund, which aimed to provide funding for vulnerable countries hit hard by climate disasters but has yet to progress a year later.
“I’m disappointed that the world’s wealthy nations were reluctant to establish the loss and damage fund last year,” says Samantha Rubin-Pope, a member of Palladium’s Climate, Environment, & Natural Resources team. “While the fund was established a year ago, it has still not been filled, operationalised, or actioned, so I’m holding out hope that it could be up and running after COP28.”
“In the wake of yet more environmental disasters in the past year (disastrous floods, droughts, hurricanes, wildfires, etc.), it’s abundantly clear that the climate crisis is becoming more immediate, and the relief possible through this fund is vital. We don’t really have time to wait,” she concludes.
Sana Khan, Washington-based Senior Technical Advisor on Data Science and Climate, adds that global commitments with financial backing are critical for implementation. “As part of the climate change adaptation strategy, I’d like to see commitments from the global leaders to explore financial mechanisms to retrofit/construct resilient infrastructure. This includes both physical infrastructure and social infrastructure (e.g., healthcare and education facilities) that can withstand the impacts of climate change, such as sea-level rise and extreme weather events.”
Timing is Everything
This year, COP28 marks the halfway point between the 2015 Paris Agreement and 2030 when many of the Agreement’s targets are due to be met. But Katie McCoy, Team Leader of Partnerships for Forests says that if action on climate change stays at its current pace, the world will fall well short of those targets. “The scaling up that’s required to limit global emissions will not come from tinkering at the edges, or consumer behaviour,” she says.
"Where’s the urgency?” asks Karen James, Australia-based Palladium Director of Nature Based Solutions. “We don’t need more research – we need action, and quickly.”
She equates the pace needed to her past experiences in the IT sector. “We didn’t spend five years deciding whose technology or WiFi was best. Instead, we took it and ran with it. I’d be interested to see the climate sector work at the same speed we did in IT. Think of everything that’s happened and evolved in 28 years in technology. Now think of what we could do with all hands on deck to fight climate change at that pace.”
McCoy explains that in order to achieve that pace, the private sector needs to be crowded in to make sustainability business as usual. “Partnerships for Forests and its partners – a number of whom will be at COP28 – have been creating proof over the past eight years that investment in nature can be de-risked, and can have a strong return on investment.”
COP27, which was held in Egypt, aimed to bolster assistance related to funding, technology, and skills development for developing countries. “What I would like to see in COP28, is the progress on all the commitments made in the COP27,” notes Khan. “What metrics and reporting mechanisms were adapted to measure the progress? If not, what is the action plan for transparency and accountability in tracking and assessing the effectiveness of the measures taken to assist developing countries?”
Fiona Gaske, Palladium Director of Logistics and Facilities based in Australia, adds that because the Global Stocktake of progress since the 2015 Paris Agreement will be featured prominently, there’s a unique opportunity to re-focus the conversation on finance and development. “The recent Global Stocktake synthesis report found the world is far behind Paris and on a trajectory contrary to the aims of the Agreement. It called for major systems transformations.”
The Role of the UAE and Oil and Gas
This year’s COP28 will be the first to include stakeholders from high emissions sectors and private sector oil and gas companies. Both the location and the inclusion of oil and gas organisations have made headlines, but for our Natural Capital team, working with these partners is a positive step forward. “I’m excited to see where the conversation on decarbonisation goes this year, especially given the fact that the conference will be hosted in the UAE, an OPEC member, and that this year, we are expecting participation from oil and gas companies, who are major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions,” says Erin Leyson, Palladium Natural Capital Business Manager based in New York.
“We engage with extractive companies on a daily basis, and my team and I often think about the role that oil and gas enterprises play in our road to a better future and the measures these companies can adopt to reduce carbon emissions,” she continues.
“We know that these companies will not stop extracting in the near future and until then, it is paramount that they find ways to better extract, refine and transport materials and that policymakers and consumers find ways to better align incentives that motivate oil and gas companies to invest in emission reducing technologies and practices to support a sustainable transition to a green economy and a better future for us all."
Abdullah Alnabhan, Palladium Middle East Regional Director, says that the conference’s presence in the region has inspired positive change. “We have particularly seen its impact in the region with long term transition strategies and net zero commitments. The region is working on multiple fronts including reducing greenhouse gas emissions, transitioning to renewable energy sources, protecting, and restoring ecosystems.”
“However, a global effort is still needed particularly to bridge the current US$2.4 trillion climate finance gap to fund the climate transition.”
For many, it’s hard to avoid the reality that large conferences like COP28 are notoriously bad for the environment. As thousands of people fly in from all over the world, there are fuel emissions to contend with and the potential for single-use plastics across the conference grounds.
“I hope they at least recycle,” says Ortiz.
Read 'Addressing Climate Change and the 2023 Outlook' or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.