COP-28 in UAE By Engr Qaiser Nawab
AS the world grapples with the escalating climate crisis, the upcoming COP-28 conference is a beacon of hope, aiming to address the critical themes of Health/Relief and Recovery and Peace. With the United Arab Emirates (UAE) hosting this pivotal event, the global community has a unique opportunity to unite and prioritize policies and investments that safeguard lives and livelihoods, foster community resilience and promote stability in the face of climate change. The action plan for COP-28 is firmly grounded in the 2015 Paris Agreement, aiming to accelerate the transition to a low-CO2 world and address the climate crisis through four essential pillars, often referred to as the “four Fs”: fast-tracking the transition to a low-carbon future, fixing climate finance, focusing on people’s lives and livelihoods and ensuring full inclusivity.
The urgency to transition to renewable energy sources and reduction in greenhouse gas emissions has never been greater. COP-28 provides an opportunity for countries to present and enhance their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to align with the Paris Agreement’s goals of limiting global warming to well below two degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels. This pillar highlights the critical importance of phasing out fossil fuels and investing in clean and sustainable energy alternatives to mitigate the impact of climate change. Climate finance remains a key aspect of climate action, especially for developing nations that bear the brunt of climate change impacts. At COP-28, it is imperative for developed countries to fulfill their commitments of providing $100 billion annually in climate finance to support adaptation and mitigation efforts in developing countries. A robust financial mechanism is essential to build resilience, ensure food and water security and protect vulnerable communities from the consequences of extreme weather events.
Climate change disproportionately affects vulnerable populations, leading to loss of lives and livelihoods, exacerbating poverty and causing social instability. The Health/Relief and Recovery theme of COP-28 aims to prioritize policies and investment that protect communities, enhance healthcare systems and promote climate-resilient livelihoods. This includes supporting small-scale farmers, investing in sustainable infrastructure and strengthening disaster preparedness and response mechanisms. COP-28 acknowledges that climate change affects everyone, but its impact is not evenly distributed. The conference emphasizes the importance of ensuring that marginalized communities, indigenous peoples, women and the youth have a seat at the table and are actively involved in decision-making processes. Achieving full inclusivity ensures that climate policies and actions are equitable and leave no one behind.
The United Arab Emirates has played a crucial role in advocating for climate action on the global stage. As the host country of COP-28, the UAE has a unique opportunity to lead by example and demonstrate its commitment to addressing the climate crisis. The UAE has already made significant strides in renewable energy development and has set ambitious targets for clean energy adoption. Hosting COP-28 presents the UAE with an ideal platform to showcase its commitment to sustainability and innovation. The country’s initiatives, such as the “UAE Vision 2021” and “Energy Strategy 2050,” align with the themes of COP-28 and demonstrate its dedication to a low-carbon future. As a leader in the Middle East, the UAE’s role as a host country also amplifies the importance of climate action in the region and fosters collaboration among nations to combat the global climate crisis.
The aftermath of extreme weather events, such as Typhoon Doksuri in China and Typhoon Khanun in Japan’s Okinawa, serves as a stark reminder of the urgent need for climate action. These calamities result in loss of lives, property damage and disruption to communities, underscoring the importance of COP-28’s focus on Health/Relief and Recovery. South Asia, in particular, faces significant challenges due to climate change. UNICEF’s meticulous analysis reveals that the region has the highest proportion of children subjected to harsh extremities of elevated temperatures. An alarming 76 percent of children in South Asia endure temperatures exceeding 35°C for 83 or more days a year, compared to the global average of one in three children.
The 2021 Children’s Climate Risk Index (CCRI) highlights the vulnerability of children in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Maldives and Pakistan, marking them as ‘extremely high risk’ in the face of climate change impacts. Pakistan’s southern Sindh province, in particular, has experienced both floods and heatwaves, putting millions of individuals at grave health risks. Children, as the most vulnerable population group, suffer from severe consequences due to extreme weather events. Their limited ability to regulate temperature changes makes them susceptible to physical ailments, cognitive setbacks and potential complications for expectant mothers. Urgent countermeasures are required to protect them, including improved healthcare facilities, climate-resilient infrastructure and education on climate change adaptation.
As COP-28 draws to a close, it assumes tremendous importance as a global endeavor to combat the ever-worsening climate crisis. With a focus on Health/Relief and Recovery, as well as Peace, the conference underscores the criticality of safeguarding lives and livelihoods, nurturing community resilience and ensuring stability amidst the challenges posed by climate change. Being the host country, the UAE holds a unique opportunity to lead by example, showcasing its commitment to a future characterized by low-carbon practices. The profound impact of extreme weather events, particularly on vulnerable communities, underscores the urgent necessity for comprehensive climate action. COP-28 must mark a turning point, uniting nations, leaders and stakeholders in collaborative efforts to enact effective policies that protect our planet and secure the well-being of future generations. It is only through collective and immediate action that we can construct a sustainable, resilient and harmonious world for everyone. Let us seize the momentum generated at COP-28 and pave the way toward a more sustainable and climate-resilient future.
—The writer is a Pakistani Climate Youth Leader, UN SDGs Advocate and an expert on Youth Development in the Global South.