Home » Copenhagen Climate Ministerial: Call for accelerated climate action in critical year 

Copenhagen Climate Ministerial: Call for accelerated climate action in critical year 

by Madaline Dunn

This week, ministers and global climate leaders are gathering in Denmark at the Copenhagen Climate Ministerial for the first major climate meeting since COP28. This is all taking place against the backdrop of the WMO’s recently published report, which found that 2023 broke every climate indicator.

Running from 21st to 22nd March, the gathering will discuss the implementation of COP28 outcomes and priorities for this year’s COP29, a make-or-break climate summit. 

Fossil fuel phase-out: “A goal without a plan is just a dream”

At COP28, for the first time at a climate summit, the decision was made to transition away from fossil fuels. Since the UAE Consensus agreement, however, think-tank Carbon Tracker has found that none of the 25 largest listed fossil fuel firms are in line with Paris Agreement climate goals. Many of these companies also have plans to expand production and are incentivising executives to do so.

Similar findings were presented in the Production Gap report, which found that governments plan to produce 110 per cent more oil and gas in 2030 than the 1.5°C carbon budget permits.

Speaking about the road to actioning the UAE Consensus, Greg Muttitt, Senior Associate at the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), said: “The first step in transitioning away from fossil fuels is to stop opening new oilfields, gas fields, coal mines, fossil power plants, or other infrastructure.” 

Muttitt noted that the “science is clear” in that limiting warming to 1.5°C leaves “no room” for new fossil fuel projects to be built. 

“When you are in a hole, stop digging,” said Muttitt. 

Paola Yanguas, Policy Advisor at IISD, echoed this and said that there needs to be transition milestones such as peak and phase-out dates, which can give workers, companies, and communities “the security to plan.” 

“This ministerial is a moment to explore what a fair and orderly transition away from fossil fuels looks like in practice for each country and its climate targets.”

“A goal without a plan is just a dream,” said Yanguas.

“We have to follow the pathway”

Indeed, the ministerial meeting is also a key platform to discuss the next generation of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), which the UN’s climate chief Simon Stiell has warned are “the most important climate documents produced so far this century.” 

The NDCs 3.0, outlining governments’ climate commitments, are due in 2025 and must be ambitious to keep 1.5°C within reach. 

Earlier today, COP28 President HE Dr. Sultan Al Jaber addressed climate leaders and ministers in the Danish capital and called the NDCs “a critical tool for correcting course” on climate action, noting that they must meet the urgency of the moment. 

This is something that Jim Skea, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), emphasised in his remarks at the meeting’s opening. 

“We can’t just pick a single year, we have to follow the pathway,” said Skea, adding that without action now, the option of limiting warming to 1.5°C will be closed, as we will have used up the available carbon budget around the end of this decade – even with the current set of NDCs.

Skea added that the IPCC has already set out “specifically” what can be done across energy supply, energy demand, transportation, agriculture, forestry and other land use, through technology and patterns of human behaviour, noting that we “have the tools.”

Climate finance a key facilitator

Climate finance threads through all of this as a key facilitator. Indeed, today the COP28 President noted that going forward, it will be the priority of COP29.

“Everything we do in the lead up to COP29 must be centred around finance, and making finance available, accessible and affordable,” HE Dr. Al Jaber said.

Likewise, UNFCCC’s Stiell noted today that by the end of this year, a New Collective Quantified Goal for climate finance must be agreed upon. 

“To undo the deadlock between developed and developing countries we need to make climate finance bigger and better,” said Stiell.

This, he said, includes meeting developing countries’ growing needs, finding new sources of finance for global climate action, ensuring investment in resilience, and maximising the ability of National Adaptation Plans to attract financial support. Further, he highlighted the role of reforming development banks, recapitalising them for climate, and making the most of their resources. 

While noting that it will come out of a “working level process”, he said it is those at the political level, including those in attendance in Copenhagen who “have the responsibility of getting the agreement over the line.”

“We’re talking trillions, not billions. That is going to require more from all sources and serious conversations about making new innovative sources real, rather than just words on a page.”

Similarly, Farooq Ullah, Senior Policy Advisor at IISD, said that to meet the finance challenge, governments must look at all forms of resource mobilisation, including the domestic reform of public finances and leveraging private finance, as well as redirecting all harmful finance in line with the Paris Agreement.

Accelerating action on the path to COP29

The data shows that with each year that passes, the climate crisis is intensifying, and we are running out of time to course correct. The next two years until COP30, in particular, have been identified by the likes of climate change think tank E3G, as the most consequential of the ‘critical decade.’

Indeed, earlier this week, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, WWF Global Lead Climate and Energy, COP20 President, Former Minister of Environment, Peru, highlighted that “the world can’t afford another NDC cycle that does not respond to science.”

Collaborative efforts have been identified as the cornerstone to driving action toward ambition in the next round of NDCs, and at the Ministerial, in a segment titled ‘Presenting the Troika Vision,’ HE Dr. Al Jaber underscored the role of the Troika in this.

The Presidencies Troika is a first-of-its-kind partnership that came out of COP28, aimed at enhancing continuity between COPS and fostering international cooperation.

In the same vein, today also witnessed the announcement of a new phase of cooperation from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Together, the two will focus on: 

  • Tracking and reporting on the energy-related outcomes of the first Global Stocktake at COP28; 
  • Building consensus on actions to deliver 1.5 °C-aligned energy transitions; and 
  • Supporting the next round of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement.

Earlier this week, looking ahead to the next climate summit, the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) called for COP29 to deliver critical support to small island developing states (SIDS). 

“This is a critical year, as we must peak global emissions before 2025 to avoid the worst scenarios of increased storms, drought, coastal erosion, sea level rise, and the other devastating impacts of climate change on our homes,” said Toeolesulusulu Cedric Schuster, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment of Samoa, and AOSIS Chair. 

“At the Copenhagen Climate Ministerial, we must see a laser focus on implementing the COP28 Energy Package, and advancing new, significantly more ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) which will lock us on a firm track to maintaining the 1.5°C goal and place us on a pathway to net-zero by 2050.”

Stay tuned for further updates. 

By Madaline Dunn, Lead Journalist, ESG Mena

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