The latest United Nations climate conference, COP28 has started today in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. With 2023 set to be the hottest year on record, surely this will help focus the thoughts and actions of over 160 world leaders, who are meeting there to discuss collective action on the climate crisis. Notable absentees from this year's COP include US President Joe Biden and China's Xi Jinping, but UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will be attending.
Simon Stiell, executive secretary of the UN climate convention has already outlined ambitious targets for international leaders:
"They must agree to triple renewable energy this decade, and double energy efficiency. And COP28 must show a clear agreement to leave fossil fuel dependency behind."
There is also a real need to put the loss and damage fund - agreed at COP27 in Egypt last year - into action, with decisions made on who will contribute, how much they will have to pay and who can benefit from the fund.
Antonio Guterres, the UN's Secretary General has called for resolutions heading towards a complete "phase out" of fossil fuels, in an effort to keep global temperatures from increasing beyond 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. The 1.5C target was set by the historic Paris agreement in 2015, but since then, global leaders have struggled to agree on actions that will enable us to meet that target, or even the 2C increase that was upper limit set by the Paris agreement. Mr Guterres went on to say that we already have the technologies that we need to combat climate channge, and the money to fund them. "The only thing that is still lacking is political will."
The President Designate of COP28, Sultan Al Jaber has said that he believes that an agreement to keep temperature increases below 1.5C is within reach. It remains to be seen what can be achieved this year, but there can be no doubt that the time for world leaders to put aside their differences and unite around decisive action to tackle the climate crisis is now!