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COP28 will be key to future planning

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THE 28th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which is commonly known as COP28 and is to be held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the coming days, is expected to be one of the largest gatherings of international climate policy development partakers. Over a period of two weeks, some profoundly important and arguably the stickiest issues will be discussed that will shape the future pathways for climate action globally.

This COP meeting is particularly vital because it will mark the kick-starting of the global stocktaking process, which is an integral part of the Paris Climate Agreement, enabling a transparent, hard and long-term view of the collective progress of the participating countries on their commitments towards cutting their carbon footprints and other pledges and promises.
Evidence suggests that the process is likely to result in exasperating conclusions, because the agreed average global temperature increase limits in the Paris Agreement have been overshot by irksome margins. The top defaulters will have to be asked to cut down the emission levels drastically and speedily.
From the perspective of developing countries, the COP meeting is even more crucial. Dictated by the principle of climate justice and further reinforced by the flurry of climate-induced disasters that many countries faced in the last one year, a passionate and credibly persuasive case for demanding resolute action on bridging the financing gaps along with expediting the mechanisms for technology transfer and capacity enhancement has gained momentum.
Out of the $100 billion pledged by the developed countries to the developing countries annually, so far only $80 billion has been dispersed since the Paris Agreement in 2015. The financing gaps are significant. Flow of funds is not sufficient for developing countries to put their adaptation measures into action.
Pakistan, one of the top 10 climatically vulnerable countries, has struggled to benefit from concessional international climate finance, hindering its climate policy actions, rehabilitation, and resilience efforts, including its National Adaptation Plan (NAP).
High hopes are pinned on the opera- tionalisation of the Loss and Damage Fund (LDF) in the UAE. It is likely to become one of the outcomes of COP28, as promised by its Transitional Committee. However, some contentious issues remain, including the need for additional, scaled financing and the sustainability of funding. It must align with its core objective of financing areas that are threatened and damaged by climate change.
After the devastating floods in Pakistan in 2022, with over 1,700 casualties and economic losses exceeding $30 billion, Pakistan strongly advocated for compen- sation at COP27.
Pakistan will continue to push for the operationalisation of the LDF at COP28 to receive compensation for irreversible economic losses and damages due to climate change impacts.
Pakistan must lead the narrative and demand the uncluttering of the international climate finance system. Many developing countries share the concern that climate action has been undermined due to fragmented international climate finance. Developing countries need fast access to finance to leverage their capital for climate action and resilience-building. This has long been deterred by structural complexities.
With LDF hopefully becoming operational at COP28, it will be time to address fundamental challenges.
This might be the most effective and practical way of ensuring some form of climate justice for the developing countries to be achieved at COP28.

Bilal Anwar
Islamabad

Published in Dawn, November 6th, 2023

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