The outcome of COP28

This past month at Jesuit Missions we have been campaigning for ‘Justice at COP28’, in collaboration with the Jesuit European Social Centre and the Jesuit Centre for Faith & Justice. But what we’ve all been waiting for are the outcomes of the final text from COP28… We’re going to break down our thoughts in the article below.

Worth a standing ovation?

The final text which was adopted during COP28 is, rather unbelievably, the first one to even mention the root causes of the climate crisis – fossil fuels. The majority of parties wanted wording around ‘phasing out of fossil fuels’. In the end, the consensus reached was a downgraded text of ‘transitioning away from fossil fuels’. While on one level, it can be considered an achievement to finally have fossil fuels even mentioned in a text, this is not the highly ambitious transformational change that is needed to avert the worst of the climate crisis. 

The response to the text has been varied. The final result has received a generally positive reaction and sets a direction towards renewables. However, it is also far from the level of commitment we need to drive down emissions and fossil-fuel use. This text has big enough loopholes to allow oil tankers to squeeze through, and the language is already lending itself to countries justifying their exploration as ‘transitional’. 

We can be under no illusion that it will be difficult for companies and countries currently investing in fossil-fuel exploration and extraction to reinvest in renewables. The proof will be in the implementation and how fast we actually transition away from fossil fuels.

“We must ensure that these commitments [from COP28] translate into tangible actions that address the unique environmental challenges faced by African nations, promoting not just ecological sustainability but also social justice and economic development.”  

Charles Chilufya SJ – Director of the Justice and Ecology Network Africa

Climate finance and food security

Climate finance and Loss and Damage were high on the agenda for this year’s COP. Finance is an essential part of climate justice and is vital to support developing nations to leapfrog the energy system to renewables over a fossil-fuel-dependent one. Unfortunately, while some money was promised, it is widely agreed that it is nowhere near enough. The continual disappointment in the failure of richer nations to put money on the table, as reparations for the damage caused, fuels distrust. 

This COP was dubbed the ‘Food COP’. There was greater focus in the negotiations on the issue of food security in a changing climate. Much was promised regarding food security, and early in the COP28 process The Emirates Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems and Climate Action was endorsed by 134 countries. However, high numbers of fossil-fuel and, meat and dairy lobbyists turned up in their droves in Dubai, and the food security question seemed a little forgotten by the time the final text came around – overshadowed greatly by the fossil-fuel question.

Where to go from here

The COP process is somewhat limited as the texts are not binding, and its implementation relies on each country incorporating it into its national policies. So that is what now needs to be done. While this text is not perfect, it does not prevent ambition beyond what was reached by consensus. As we enter a climate that is becoming ever more unpredictable and unfamiliar, the work now is to transform our societies into better, more sustainable versions of themselves. We must demand that more money is given as climate finance, recognising that supporting the most vulnerable countries to fight and adapt to climate change ultimately helps everyone.

We must keep putting pressure on our government to keep their commitments at COP28, prioritise food security, provide climate finance and invest more in transforming our energy system into renewables.

Thank you to all those who took part in our ‘Justice at COP28’ campaign. By adding your voice and amplifying the voices of those most affected by climate change, you helped show our government that we are committed to climate justice ahead and during COP28. The resources will remain on our website for you to access as you wish. And subscribe to our campaigns newsletter below to keep up to date with our advocacy work.

“Disappointment is an understatement as countries weave loopholes in the text while doing business as usual. There is a high probability that the world will reach 1.5 C degree climate change by 2030 after more than 28 years of talking. Have people forgotten this year’s record-breaking summer temperatures? Yet it is worth pausing to recognize that, as war rages in different parts of the world, bringing nearly 200 countries together is an achievement despite the limitations of the process. The struggle goes on. May we continue to seek to serve better the human family and future generations.” 

Fr Pedro Walpole SJ,
Research Director at the Environmental Science for Social Change project in the Philippines.

By Ciara Murphy, with additions from John McManus and Rebecca Reece

Photo Credit: Carlos Zepeda


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