What does COP-28 mean for cities?

What does COP-28 mean for cities?

Context:

The significance of urban cities in addressing climate change, particularly focusing on discussions held at the 28th Conference of Parties (COP-28) in Dubai.

Relevance:

GS – 2, GS – 3 (Important International Institutions, Conservation)

Main Question:

How does COP-28 impact cities’ involvement in climate action, especially in the Global South, and what measures are essential to address the vulnerabilities of urban areas? (250 words)

Dimensions of the Article:

  • COP-28 Overview
  • Significance of Cities in Climate Action
  • City Representation and Governance
  • Challenges in the Global South
  • Role of Global Support
  • Representation in Climate Action Plans
  • Ambitious City Initiatives

COP-28 Overview:

  • COP-28 is characterized as a mixed bag, lacking a decisive stance on ending fossil fuels but initiating discussions.
  • Global Stocktake Overview: The Global Stocktake (GST) serves as a periodic review mechanism established under the Paris Agreement in 2015, outlining a comprehensive strategy through eight key steps to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
  • Renewable Energy and Efficiency Targets: It advocates for a tripling of global renewable energy capacity and a doubling of the average annual rate of energy efficiency improvements worldwide by 2030. Additionally, it emphasizes the significant reduction of non-CO2 emissions, particularly targeting global methane emissions by 2030.
  • Fossil Fuel Transition at COP28: COP28 emphasizes the imperative shift away from fossil fuels in energy systems, urging a just, orderly, and equitable transition. The goal is to accelerate actions in the critical decade, aiming for a net-zero outcome by 2050.
  • Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA): The Global Adaptation Goal underlines the enhancement of adaptive capabilities and the reduction of vulnerability for sustainable development. COP28 calls for a doubling of adaptation finance, coupled with plans for ongoing assessments and monitoring of adaptation needs.
  • Climate Finance Framework: UNCTAD estimates a debt of USD 500 billion from wealthy nations to developing countries in 2025 under the New Collective Quantified Goal (NCQG) for climate finance. COP28 aims to establish a new quantified goal, starting at USD 100 billion per year, with specific allocations for mitigation, adaptation, and loss and damage.
  • Loss and Damage Fund Operationalization: Member countries have agreed to operationalize the Loss and Damage (L&D) fund, designed to compensate nations grappling with climate change impacts. The fund, overseen initially by the World Bank, allocates a specific percentage for Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States.
  • Global Renewables and Energy Efficiency Pledge: Signatories commit to tripling the world’s installed renewable energy generation capacity to at least 11,000 GW by 2030. The pledge also calls for doubling the global average annual rate of energy efficiency improvements, targeting over 4% annually until 2030.
  • Global Cooling Pledge for COP 28: 66 national governments pledge to collaborate in reducing cooling-related emissions globally by at least 68% relative to 2022 levels by 2050.
  • Declaration to Triple Nuclear Energy: A declaration launched at COP28 aims to triple the global nuclear energy capacity by 2050.

Significance of Cities in Climate Action:

  • Urbanization’s Impact: From 44% in 1995, the global urban population has risen to 55%, expected to reach 68% by 2050. Urban areas consume 75% of primary energy and contribute to 70% of CO2 emissions. Paris Agreement goals hinge on addressing urban challenges.
  • Special Day for Urbanization: COP-28 features a dedicated day for a ministerial meeting on urbanization and climate change, involving various stakeholders. The emphasis on “nothing for us without us” highlights the need for inclusive decision-making.

City Representation and Governance:

  • Redefining Architecture: City representatives advocate for multi-level green deal governance, revising energy and climate action regulations. Recognition of city governments’ efforts in COP decision documents is urged.
  • European Advocacy: European city groups push for direct actions in cities, stressing the role of subnational governments in global climate negotiations. Recognition, financing, and technical assistance for cities are essential for driving climate ambition.

Challenges in the Global South:

  • Vulnerability Disparities: Cities in the Global South face heightened vulnerability. Empowerment of city leaders, informal sector employment, adaptation strategies, and addressing social and economic inequities are crucial.
  • Slum Dwellings: In countries like India, 40% of the urban population resides in slums, highlighting the need for radical shifts in urban processes. Pollution, economic disparities, and health issues further underscore the challenges.

Role of Global Support:

  • Climate Atlas Initiative: A proposed climate atlas for Global South cities, mapping and identifying hotspots, is suggested. Financial support from existing architectures, including COP outcomes, is deemed necessary for progress.

Representation in Climate Action Plans:

  • Exclusion in NDCs: Cities find themselves excluded from the preparation of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and National Adaptation Plans. The lack of representation necessitates reclaiming space during COPs and pre-COP discussions.

Ambitious City Initiatives:

  • Chennai’s Example: Despite challenges, some cities, like Chennai, take proactive steps. Chennai aims to achieve zero emissions by 2050, surpassing the national target of 2070. Ambitious initiatives highlight cities’ leadership in climate action.

Conclusion:

While COP-28 might be critiqued as underwhelming, it elevates the critical discourse on recognizing the interconnectedness of climate action, social justice, and the pivotal role of urban areas. The event underscores the need for acknowledging vulnerabilities, ensuring city representation in climate plans, and securing global support, particularly for cities in the Global South, to effectively address the challenges of climate change.