The past two days at COP28 have witnessed critical developments and concerns, shaping discussions on climate actions and governmental transparency.

The President of Cop28, Sultan Al Jaber, caused major controversy with his comment that there was “no science out there, or no scenario out there, that says that the phase-out of fossil fuel is what’s going to achieve 1.5C”. Sutan AL Jaber, who is CEO of the state-owned oil company, Adnoc, has been forced to defend his claims about fossil fuel phase-out amid uproar from attending nations who see his role as the Summit Leader as a conflict of interests. His comments were made against a backdrop of complaints over a record influx of fossil fuel lobbyists at COP28, further raising concerns about the influence of oil producing nations on climate negotiations.

On a positive note, the French and Moroccan Governments, in collaboration with UNEP, launched the Buildings Breakthrough, uniting 27 nations to drive the transformation of the sector, aiming for near-zero emissions and climate-resilient buildings by 2030. The initiative, part of the Breakthrough Agenda, focuses on accelerating global collaboration and adopting clean technologies to achieve sustainable solutions in the building sector. This commitment aims to make environmentally friendly practices more accessible and affordable worldwide by 2030. The initiative will conduct annual assessments of global progress in collaboration with major climate organisations, and a global forum in 2024 will further propel these efforts toward near-zero emissions and resilient buildings.

This was announced on the same day that The UKGBC reported a 13% drop in built environment emissions from 2018 to 2022, falling short of the required 19% reduction for net-zero alignment. This 11 MtCO2e shortfall underscores the pressing need for nearly twice the pace of decarbonisation over the next two years to meet net-zero objectives. Highlighting the significance of policy support, there’s a call for robust government action to boost home retrofit investments and establish clearer regulatory frameworks for decarbonisation efforts.

Other key points from the last couple of days are:

  • Omission of Agriculture: The latest global stocktake draft excluded agriculture and food systems, igniting worries over vital climate aspects being disregarded.
  • Mary Robinson’s Response: Former UN High Commissioner Mary Robinson addressed the controversy over COP28 president’s reaction to fossil fuel phase-out queries.
  • UK Government’s Press Absence: Criticism mounted over the UK government’s absence from engaging with the press, signalling a lack of transparency.
  • Key Statements and Developments: Russian President Vladimir Putin’s presence alarmed the Ukrainian delegation. The UN’s climate chief urged avoiding political scoring in negotiations. Climate scientists emphasized the climate-fossil fuel phase-out connection. Copernicus Climate Change Service reported another record-breaking month for temperatures.

As negotiations now pause for a day on Thursday, these recent events underscore critical discussions and concerns surrounding lobbyist influence, climate science, governmental transparency, and ongoing temperature records. The impact of COP28 will become apparent as the summit progresses but, given concerns over the presidency and that no country has stepped up to host the conference in 2024 as yet, it may be that the UN Climate Change Conference format is running out of steam.

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