I’m Amanda Magnani, a Brazilian (photo)journalist and OptOut News’ climate editor. COP28 started yesterday in Dubai, here are some key concepts you must understand to follow any coverage of the most important climate event of the year.
And don’t forget that I am already in Dubai, and I will share updates on our Instagram over the next two weeks!
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What is COP?
COP stands for Conference Of the Parties. It is the international climate convention organized by the United Nations, and the moment when leaders from countries around the world, as well as members of the civil society, get together to discuss the climate crisis and decide on steps to address it. The first COP was held in 1995 in Berlin. Now, it’s a yearly event.
What is COP28?
COP28 is the 28th climate conference. It started yesterday in Dubai and will officially last until December 12th.
Who will be there?
70.000 people are expected, including heads of state, government officials, industry leaders, private sector representatives, academics, experts, youth activists and non-state actors. Also, I will be there, so don’t forget to follow us on Instagram!
What is COP’s role?
COP’s main role is to try to find solutions to address the climate crisis before we reach the point of no return when the Earth becomes inhospitable for human life. Countries negotiate how bestto do that, considering each nation’s capabilities and responsibility for causing the climate crisis in the first place.
What is the Paris Agreement?
The Paris Agreement is an international climate treaty that resulted from COP21, in 2015 in Paris. Signed by 196 parties, it is the most wide-reaching treaty of this kind. The Paris Agreement was a huge milestone, as it was this agreement which determined the 1.5 degrees Celsius goal and the carbon markets. Under President Donald Trump's administration, the United States withdrew from the agreement. It has since rejoined under President Joe Biden.
What is the significance of 1.5 degrees Celsius?
One of the main goals of the Paris Agreement is to find ways to contain global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, above pre-industrial levels. Scientists have found that if the global temperature changes above that, the climate disasters the world will experience will be even greater than the ones we see today–and it will become even harder for Earth to recover.
What are carbon markets?
Another important element of the Paris Agreement are carbon markets. The idea behind them is that countries, companies, or even individuals can buy and sell carbon credits, to reduce greenhouse gas effects. One carbon credit corresponds to one tonne of carbon dioxide or the equivalent in other gasses which was either avoided or removed from the atmosphere. Critics have pointed out that carbon offsetting is not living up to its promises in terms of reducing emissions.
What is Loss and Damage?
Loss and Damage is a term used to refer to the negative impacts, on humans or the environment, of climate-related events. The events encompassed by the concept of loss and damage are those which can’t or haven’t been mitigated. Negotiations on this subject are particularly dear to Global South countries, which have contributed the least to climate change, but which suffer the most from its consequences.
What is the Loss and Damage fund?
The Loss and Damage Fund is a demand from countries who need financial support to deal with the impacts of climate disasters. Its creation was determined last year during COP27, in Egypt, but how it will work, where it will be hosted, and who will finance it are details to be negotiated this year during COP28.
What is 3x Renewables?
Another important topic for this year’s COP is tripling renewable energy power generation capacity worldwide and doubling emergency efficiency as part of the strategy to transition from a fossil fuel led economy. More than 60 countries have already declared they will back the international deal spearheaded by the European Union, United States and United Arab Emirates.
What is phasing out/phasing down?
While it is clear that the world should stop burning more oil, countries whose economy heavily depends on fossil fuel are not very happy with the idea of completely stopping oil and gas production and trade. As a consequence, even though meeting the Paris Agreement goals would require dropping fossil fuels for good, negotiations are difficult. Must countries and companies pledge to phase out (meaning that the end goal is to no longer use fossil fuels at all), or merely phase down (meaning that the world just needs to reduce the amount of oil and gas produced and consumed)?
What is the Global Stocktake?
Finally, one of the most important things set to happen this year during COP28 is the Global Stocktake, where the parties will look into all that has been done since the Paris Agreement to evaluate whether we have advanced enough as a planet in the fight against climate change. To know more about it, you can check this Instagram Reel in which I spoke with Enrique Maúrtua Konstantinidis, Senior diplomacy consultant for the Independent Global Stocktake.
Before you go, don’t forget to follow OptOut on Instagram, as I will be posting updates on and behind the scenes from COP28!
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