Home » A look back at day two of COP28: Big pledges, even bigger jets & climate controversy 

A look back at day two of COP28: Big pledges, even bigger jets & climate controversy 

by Madaline Dunn

The second day of COP28 saw world leaders descend on Dubai, more than 160 of them, to deliver speeches, make more promises, and, yet again, call for “action.”

Hundreds flew in on private jets, including the likes of the UK’s Prime Minister, Foreign Secretary and King, all flown in separate private planes – and while sadly predictable, it’s still a kick in the teeth and undermines any messages of commitment to change. 

Indeed, day two saw an embarrassing performance from PM Rishi Sunak, who dipped out of the summit just eleven hours after he had arrived. Sunak, who has rolled back a number of climate plans in the UK, told the conference, “everyone can do more,” while also discussing the UK’s scrapped energy efficiency plans.

Of course, Sunak has also approved new North Sea oil drilling, something which openly defies climate science. “We must address the disconnect between lofty rhetoric on stages like this and the reality of people’s lives around the world,” he said.

This stood in the shadow of U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres’s speech, where he warned that the world is “minutes to midnight” for the 1.5-degree limit. 

“The 1.5-degree limit is only possible if we ultimately stop burning all fossil fuels. Not reduce. Not abate,” he said. 

This sense of urgency was also echoed by King Charles: “Scientists have been warning for so long, we are seeing alarming tipping points being reached.”

From fossil fuels to food and land, the second day also saw more than 130 countries agree to prioritise food and agriculture in their national climate plans at COP28 in Dubai, which, while promising, lacked detail. However, day two marked the first time the interconnection of food farming and global warming has been recognised. This is a vital area that has been woefully neglected in previous COPs. 

Gaza was also under the spotlight in the summit, when both Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan and South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa accused Israel of war crimes in Gaza. 

Jordan’s King Abdullah II, meanwhile, highlighted the link between the climate crisis and the crisis in Gaza, saying it will only “magnify” the effects of war.

Brazil’s president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, similarly outlined that instead of “joining forces,” the world is fighting wars, fuelling divisions and deepening poverty and inequality. Further, he discussed the devastation across the Amazon, from the “most tragic droughts in its history,” to storms and cyclones in the south of Brazil had left a trail of “destruction and death”.

Elsewhere, in his speech, HE Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber launched the COP28 UAE Declaration on a Global Climate Finance Framework (The Declaration): “We all know that climate finance is not available, accessible or affordable enough. This is impacting lives and livelihoods across the Global South,” said Dr. Al Jaber.

Adding: “The Declaration is a framework for financing a new climate economy and focuses on rebuilding trust, second on reframing climate investments as economic opportunities and third on scaling up climate finance.”

On Friday, the UAE also announced $30 billion in a new climate investment venture, named ALTÉRRA, aimed at mobilising $250 billion in investment by 2030. 

Stay tuned for more COP28 updates from ESG Mena.

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