Modern “climate consensus”: multilateralism and diplomacy in action

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The COP28 was a sobering reminder that the world was far off its targets in climate actions: i.e. global emissions continued to rise by 1.5% a year, when they have to be reduced by 7% annually to keep the goals of Paris climate agreement by 2030. Among main outcomes of the recent summit has been the diplomatic victory for the “global stock take” as a global “climate consensus” to reduce growing emissions.

  One of the main COP28 outcomes was the adoption of the first ever Global Stock Take, GST, which represented a mid-term review of progress that UN member states were making towards implementing the 2015 Paris Agreement: i.e. a sort of “modern climate consensus”. The GST committed countries to limit temperature’s increase to below 2°C and targeting 1.5 °C compared to the pre-industrial era. The final GST’s text called the global community to “transition away” from fossil fuels. All in all, the UAE Consensus can be seen as a win for multilateralism and climate diplomacy.

  However, it’s important to note that the COP28 consensus, just like the Paris Agreement, is not legally binding. Therefore, there is a pressing need to define a roadmap for this transition and ensure a swift and effective implementation of the GST by nations. For example, COP28 successfully mobilized over $85 billion in financing, it is clear that this falls short of rebuilding trust and translating the first GST into tangible actions that can effectively reduce growing emissions.

Global Stock Take, GST concluded that:
= There is “the need for deep, rapid and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions” and calls for parties to contribute to “transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly and equitable manner, accelerating action in this critical decade, so as to achieve net-zero by 2050 in keeping with the science.”
= Tripling the global capacity of renewable energy and doubling the annual rate of energy efficiency improvements before 2030.
= Significantly curbing non-CO2 emissions, with a particular focus on reaching near-zero global methane emissions by 2030 – which are 80 times more harmful than carbon dioxide in the short run.
= Phasing out inefficient subsidies for fossil fuels (those that do not address energy poverty or facilitate just transitions), as soon as feasible and possible.

Summit’s world-wide effects
= Acknowledged interdependence between the two vital agendas (nature and climate strategies), the COP28 launched a series of initiatives with an initial commitment of $1.7 billion to simultaneously meet climate and biodiversity goals. In view of political-economy, about half of average national GDP comes from natural resources (air, water, human existence, etc.); so, loosing nature, many businesses, which are dependent on it directly and/or indirectly would undermine their supply chains and clients. It is high time to evaluate economically and financially the available natural resources.
= Maritime actions. Although it is the world’s largest carbon sink, which absorbs 90% of the warming generated from climate change, investment into ocean action remains the least funded of the UN SDGs. The summit provided an opportunity to bolster blue solutions, including 21 countries joining the Mangrove Breakthrough, to restore and protect 15 million hectares of mangroves world-wide by 2030, which can hold more than four times more carbon than tropical forests. During the COP28 summit, it was successfully mobilizing over $2.5 billion to bridge the substantial funding gap in nature conservation and restoration for climate resilience.

  = Food systems are an impact multiplier for a just and equitable transition, accounting for 30% of global emissions, rising costs and nutrition issues. The COP28 summit placed this issue as a core part of the new climate action agenda, announcing the Emirates Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems and Climate Action with the support of 134 countries (representing 70% of the world’s land), with commitments to include emissions from agriculture and farming into their national climate action plans. In response, the World Economic Forum launched the First Movers Coalition for Food, creating aggregated market demand for sustainably produced and low-emission agricultural commodities. The initiative, which is championed by the UAE and a growing coalition of corporate and research partners, aims to de-risk upfront investment, with its 20 current member states promising a combined estimated procurement commitment of $10-20 billion by 2030.

Some global business outlook
There are already some hints regarding challenges to entrepreneurship that the World Economic Forum has revealed. Among them are for example, some transformative “provocations” for corporate strategies: e.g. making corporate governance grasping national political-economy’s changes for existing business model and/or long-term strategies. As to the big multi-nationals, they have “to be trained in synthesizing” the new global order already under formation’s process, including new growth opportunities, world-trade’s compliances and analysis of emerging supply chains. Finally, both the big companies and SMEs have “to track the foreign policy strategy of the country where their headquarters are situated”, as well as transforming relationships with the greatest global powers, e.g. the US, China, EU, etc.
Contemporary governance systems have to understand the present socio-economic situation and modern challenges to re-assess the role of existing and available national resources, forces and factors likely to shape long-term decisions in order to formulate policies which could bring wellbeing to people.
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World Economic Forum: takeaways from COP28
The annual meeting takes place during 15-19 January 2024; there are numerous issues on agenda, among them are those from the COP28: such as growing recognition of the urgency to address climate change and the determination to accelerate actions, enhanced Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), the commitment to transition away from fossil fuels, triple the renewable energy capacity by 2030, significant climate pledges, the operating of the “loss and damage fund” and the acknowledgement of a just climate-energy transition, etc.
Moreover, the emphasis on nature-based solutions and the climate-health nexus signals a shift towards a more holistic and inclusive approach to climate actions. Hence, the global community’s expectations towards more cross-sector collaborations, in fostering inclusivity in the world-wide pursuit of a desired 1.5°C, which “leaving no one behind”.
Besides, much work is to be done by national governments: e.g. the global governance has to control the process of “revising national NDCs by 2025” in accordance with the GST-guiding changes adopted in COP28.
World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos (January 2024) will draw international organizations, global companies, relevant civil society and academic institutions, as well as more than 100 governments “to move forward the takeaways” from COP28 milestone goals.
Speeding closer to 2030, the global community and the European Union shall be ready to adopt critically vital and often quite complicated and controversial decisions in modernising existing political-economy’s patterns.

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