Going to COP28 was a huge investment for us, was it worth the ✈ fuel?


The decision to attend COP28, after receiving invitations to speak at events organized by influential bodies such as the Global Carbon Council, Ernst & Young, UNFCCC secretariat, UNDP, and the International Development Finance Club, was not made lightly. The environmental cost of travel weighed against the potential for influencing global climate finance represented a microcosm of the broader challenges in climate action.

In retrospect, the insights gained and the connections made have been useful in informing our ongoing work:

:bar_chart: Accountability in Climate Commitments Post-COP28
The International Accounting Standards Board’s decision, made around the time of COP28, to recognize net-zero transition commitments as constructive obligations under IFRS standard IAS37, marked a notable shift towards accountability. The true impact of this decision, especially in terms of justice in climate transition, is an ongoing area of focus for us. Read Andrew Watson for more on this.

:globe_with_meridians: COP28’s ‘Moving Minimum’ and Its Implications for Justice
COP28 brought to the forefront the concept of a ‘moving minimum’ in consensus-based climate agreements, as explained by Ketan Joshi. The event highlighted the inherent challenge in balancing global consensus with the need for justice in climate action. The agreement to transition away from fossil fuels was a significant step, but the discussions at COP28 revealed gaps in addressing the needs of the most vulnerable.

Just Transition: A Global Perspective

For the Most Vulnerable:

  • In less affluent regions, a just transition transcends environmental concerns. It’s about ensuring survival through access to clean energy, sustainable livelihoods, and resilience against climate impacts. The justice aspect means preventing further marginalization of these populations during economic shifts.

For Wealthier Nations and Individuals:

  • In wealthier contexts, just transition often involves economic restructuring, like shifts from fossil fuel industries to renewable energy sectors. For affluent individuals, this could mean altered investment strategies, carbon pricing costs, and lifestyle changes to reduce carbon footprints.

:bar_chart: Article 6.2, 6.3 and 6.4 at COP28: A Reflection on Global Disparities
The slow progress on Paris Article 6 during COP28 underscored the challenges in reaching a consensus across diverse economic and social landscapes. Specifically: the relationship between the state and the market in reducing emissions, while ensuring those most responsible for the mess pay the price of cleaning it up and compensating the communities affected.

:herb: Cap-and-Trade Post-COP28: A Balanced View
While cap-and-trade systems hold promise, their effectiveness in delivering equitable benefits remains under scrutiny. The ongoing evaluation of these systems’ impacts on different socioeconomic groups is crucial for a genuinely just transition.

My stance is that until we get emissions under control, it makes sense to engage in any one emissions reduction project if and only if:

  1. It contributes to reducing global emissions worldwide not just “offsetting”. At scale. Right now.

  2. The project can prove an improvement in the quality of everyday life for individuals in the communities where the projects are run and or from which materials or components are sourced.

  3. The Technology is well established, can be rapidly deployed at an affordable cost right now.

That’s why you will find Tim and myself advocating for solutions like fuel-efficient cookstoves in school kitchens, but not e.g direct carbon capture.

:mag: Advocating for Equitable Engagement
Post-COP28, we are more committed than ever to balancing scepticism with a push for equitable climate action. Our goal is to foster engagement that acknowledges complexities while striving for fair and inclusive solutions. The discussions at COP28, which aimed to bridge idealism with practical financial strategies, are only one piece of multiple puzzles.

:school: The Ghana Green Schools Program: Reflecting Broader Challenges
This program run by myself and Tim through climategains stands as a microcosm of the broader challenges in implementing equitable climate solutions. It serves as a test case for how climate finance can have a direct, positive impact on vulnerable communities while contributing to global emission reduction.

:star2: Next Steps:

Be an ally in our journey towards a just transition.

  • Stay Informed: Follow our news board for opportunities to learn and collaborate.
  • Build Connections: Help us connect with organizations that could be potential partners.
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