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Pledges made so far at the COP28 climate talks

Agence France-Presse
Pledges made so far at the COP28 climate talks
Environmental activists stage a protest with a earth globe during a demonstration at the venue of the COP28 United Nations climate summit in Dubai on Dec. 6, 2023. A record almost 2,500 fossil fuel lobbyists have been accredited for UN climate talks in Dubai, as negotiators wrestle with calls to end all new oil, gas and coal projects to curb global warming, campaign groups said on December 5.
AFP / Karim Sahib

PARIS, France — The COP28 climate talks in Dubai have seen a flurry of announcements promising action on global warming, led by its big-spending, oil-rich host the United Arab Emirates.

The first five days of the negotiations mobilised over $83 billion dollars and saw 11 pledges and declarations for climate action, the COP28 presidency said Friday.

But observers have warned that the headline-grabbing promises could distract from the real battles on fossil fuels and negotiating a formal COP28 deal.

As pressure builds in talks held during the hottest year on record, here are some of the developments so far.

Loss and damage

Day one of the meeting saw the launch of a landmark "loss and damage" fund to help vulnerable countries cope with the increasingly costly and damaging impacts of climate disasters.

The UAE and Germany pledged $100 million each and France $109 million, along with $50 million from Britain, $25 million from Denmark and $17.5 million from the United States, the world's biggest historical polluter.

Campaigners said the US offering was woefully inadequate.

The total committed as of Friday was around $726 million, according to the COP28 presidency.

That still falls short of the $100 billion a year that developing nations -- which have historically been the least responsible for greenhouse gas emissions -- have said is needed to cover losses from natural disasters and rising seas.

Meanwhile, the Green Climate Fund, focussed on support developing countries in their climate action, saw a boost of $3.5 billion to its second replenishment, with a $3 billion promise from the United States. Other new pledges for the GCF at COP28 were from Australia, Estonia, Italy, Portugal and Switzerland.

Tripling renewables

At least 128 countries had by Friday committed to tripling renewable energy capacity worldwide by 2030 and doubling the annual rate of energy efficiency improvements.

G20 nations, which account for nearly 80 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, paved the way for a deal when they endorsed the renewable energy goal in September. 

Supporters want the pledge to be included in the final outcome of the talks and it currently appears in a draft published on Friday, which is still subject to negotiations before the meeting is due to wrap up on Tuesday.

Fossil fuels

The US committed to phasing out its existing unabated coal plants as it joined the Powering Past Coal Alliance (PPCA) Saturday. On Tuesday, it was joined by the UAE.

Abatement generally means when the emissions from a power plant or factory are captured before going into the atmosphere. 

The PPCA has picked up 10 new members so far during the talks, with over 80 percent of OECD and EU countries now committed to the alliance.   

Global CO2 emissions from coal-fired power plants reached a new high in 2022 and the US has the world's third-biggest capacity behind China and India.

Colombia became one of the largest fossil fuel producers to join the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative, a movement led by climate-vulnerable island nations to end new development of coal, oil and gas.

Tripling nuclear

More than 20 countries led by the US called Saturday for the tripling of world nuclear energy capacity by 2050. While nuclear generates almost no greenhouse gases, the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan in 2011 dealt it a severe blow. 

But experts and activists point to the fact that new nuclear plants can take decades to come online, while renewable energy is significantly faster.

Food and farming

More than 140 countries have agreed to prioritise food and agriculture systems in their national climate plans. 

The non-binding declaration was welcomed by observers, with food systems estimated to be responsible for roughly a third of human-made greenhouse gases.

But some criticised it for lacking concrete goals -- and for not mentioning fossil fuels or signalling any shift to more sustainable diets. 

Healthy future?

Over 130 countries have signed a declaration to "place health at the heart of climate action". It called for governments to step up action on climate-related health impacts like extreme heat, air pollution and infectious diseases.

Almost nine million people a year die from polluted air, while 189 million are exposed to extreme weather-related events.

The declaration notes "the benefits for health from deep, rapid, and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions", but makes no direct reference to fossil fuels. 

UAE climate investment fund

The UAE said it was putting $30 billion into a new private climate investment fund. 

The oil-rich COP28 host said the fund, called Alterra, would partly try to focus on climate projects in the developing world, and hoped to stimulate investments totalling $250 billion by 2030.

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