THE recently concluded Conference of Parties, COP28, held in Dubai delivered a package of agreements setting out the pathway for global climate action in the years to come. The outcome of the Global Stock-Take (GST) under the UAE COP presidency, was historic in many ways. It called for action to transition away from fossil fuels for the first time, made headway in the operationalisation and initial capitalisation of the Loss and Damage Fund and saw record breaking ($85 billion) pledges in climate action.

The narratives emerging at COP28 reflect a climate regime struggling to come to terms with the need for urgency in climate action and maturing to move to an era of ‘implementation’. However, despite consensus and incremental gains, COPs remind us that negotiations are part of a broader agenda and not an endgame, with some wins, some disappointments and a few loopholes carried forward to the next meeting. The ultimate arbiter of COP’s significance will be the delivery of emissions cut, adaptation action, and finance through the Dubai-Baku-Belem roadmap.

The GST has set the stage for accelerating action between now and 2025 when parties are expected to submit their next Nationally Determined Contributions. This will make finance the central focus of COP29, highlighting need for mobilising and aligning financial flows with Article 2.1c of the Paris Agreement and finding a way to incorporate Means of Implementation in the finance package to address debt burdens and forward thinking in strengthening resilience.

The seriousness of the GST decision can be seen in its call for a follow-up, including a two-year dialogue on implementing its outcomes to start at COP29 and a ‘Roadmap to Mission 1.5’ to enhance global cooperation under the guidance of the presidencies of COP28, COP29 and COP30. Notwithstan­ding the lack of detail on transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems, the use of ‘just’, ‘orderly’ and ‘equitable’ in the text language raises hope of significant emissions reductions in this decade and the beginning of the end of the fossil fuel-dominated era.

COP28 was historic in many ways.

COP28 also saw many new announcements and pledges, ranging considerably in their significance and credibility. The UAE-led Finance Framework, along with record-breaking pledges to the Green Climate Fund and new finance for loss and damage of around $655.9 million can be interpreted as a shift in politics of financing.

The UAE announced a package of finances as a contribution to delivering on the framework with a $30bn investment fund for clean transition, $4.5bn for energy transition investment in Africa, and a new announcement plan to re-channel $200m equivalent in special drawing rights to the IMF Resilience and Sustainability Trust Fund. The gap between adaptation finance pledges and the need for implementing adaptation plans signal a need for heightened political attention. Significantly, COP president Sultan Al Jaber called on the need to inject more capital into multilateral development banks to support mobilising and distributing finance for transition.

Other highlights of COP28 include pathways for alignment on climate, food and nature goals ahead of Brazil’s COP30 and a High Ambition Coalition to serve as the centre of gravity for pushing outcomes on fossil fuels, adaptation and finance. The US-China Sunnylands statement ensured a basis of support for the final package, but without a major shift in their pre-COP positions.

The fiercely contested negotiations went into overtime to reach consensus but successful shuttle diplomacy in the last 48 hours played a role in gavelling the agreement.

For Pakistan, it’s important to translate GST into NST (National Stock-take) and convene a multidisciplinary discussion on the impact of global climate agreements on the country and the region. An analytical review to assess the impact will help in setting the course for coping strategies, inclusive of economy-wide impacts and options, for increasing revenue streams to meet mitigation commitments and adaptation needs.

The climate change ministry-led delegation at COP28 marked a new start by taking a ‘whole of society’ approach, working closely with all relevant stakeholders to foster collective ownership in framing Pakistan’s stance. The 29 events hosted at the Pakistan Pavilion included high-level segments with diverse themes that provided opportunity for expanding outreach and showcasing the impact of climate calamities, as well as networking opportunities for deepening engagement and forging new partnerships.

The next steps include balancing national gaps with international obligations and moving towards a point of convergence, where complementarities create an enabling environment for long-term investments.

The writer is chief executive of the Civil Society Coalition for Climate Change.

Published in Dawn, December 19th, 2023