This Article Was Written By Energy Watch | 05.12.23 | 2:44 PM From November 30 to December 12, tens of thousands of people including diplomats from nearly 200 countries and many heads of state and government are gathering for the annual United Nations (U.N.) climate change summit, known as the Conference of the Parties or COP28, in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Reality looms over the two-week conference: time is quickly running out to prevent fossil fuel pollution from causing irreversible damage to our planet. To preserve a livable climate, the production of coal, oil, and gas must rapidly decline – while global renewable power capacity – including wind, solar, and hydro – needs to triple by 2030. With greenhouse gases (GHG) in the atmosphere hitting a record high in 2022, COP28 will be a pivotal opportunity to correct course and accelerate action to tackle the climate crisis – bringing together leaders from governments, businesses, NGOs, and civil society to find concrete solutions to the most defining issue of our time. Read on to understand the historical significance of COP, the key issues being addressed at COP28, as well as the latest developments from this crucial dialogue on climate action. What is COP28? A little over 30 years ago, more than 150 countries signed onto the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) to limit the alarming rise of planet-warming pollution in the atmosphere. While the science behind human-caused climate change was still new, scientists knew even back then that the consequences would be life-changing. The first COP – or “Conference of the Parties” to that agreement – took place in Berlin in 1995, and member states have been convening on climate change almost every year since. In 2015, more than 190 countries approved the Paris Agreement, the first global pact to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius, but preferably to 1.5 degrees. That’s the threshold beyond which scientists say it will be increasingly hard for humans to cope with the severe storms, drought, heat, and sea level rise that will intensify as the planet continues to heat up. However, the planet we live on today has already warmed by 1.2 degrees Celsius, and emissions that are driving the change are also going up, not down. To drive climate action by countries, the Paris Agreement required Parties to put forward their “nationally determined contributions” (NDCs), which represent emissions reduction targets for the post-2020 period. Although the Paris Agreement was a landmark moment that set the world on a path that scientists supported, it did not outline specific steps towards achieving its goal. Since then, COPs have sought to make the plans attached to the Paris Agreement more ambitious and to be more specific about the changes that global society would need to make. COP28’s Action Agenda This year’s UN climate summit will feature a contentious set of issues for countries working to find common ground in tackling climate change. Reining in fossil fuels and carbon emissions are expected to be topping the agenda – while international funding to help countries adapt to climate change will also be hotly debated. In a letter to parties dated July 2023, the Incoming Presidency emphasised the need for “everyone to play their part that transforms our current course and supercharges solutions across the negotiations”. To this end, the Presidency expressed COP28’s vision to deliver on the pillars of the Paris Agreement by focusing on four paradigm shifts: Taking Stock of Climate Progress A primary objective of COP each year is to review and calibrate the implementation of the Paris Agreement. This year, member states will be going into negotiation rooms with the first-ever Global Stocktake (GST) – a scorecard analysing where countries are collectively making progress towards meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement – and where they are not. The GST is a two-year process scheduled to take place every five years, looking at everything related to where the world stands on climate action and support, identifying the gaps, and working together to chart a better course forward. The first-ever GST got underway in 2022 and will conclude at COP28 – informing the next round of NDCs to be put forward by 2025. Since the GST was published in September, an early look at the findings indicates that the world is seriously off-track on achieving its climate goals. Although it has been eight years since the Paris Agreement, we have barely made any progress on slashing climate pollution, and the window is “rapidly narrowing” to raise ambition and implement existing commitments. As such, the GST should serve as a wake-up call for what the world needs to do, but it also offers a concrete blueprint with a mountain of evidence on how to get the job done. This includes urgent steps towards cutting GHG emissions, boosting green technology investments, and strengthening capacity-building programs via local and global partnerships. By evaluating where the world stands when it comes to meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement and using its inputs, the GST can help policymakers and stakeholders strengthen their climate policies and commitments in their next round of NDCs, paving the way for accelerated action going forward. Showcasing Malaysia’s Climate Leadership As one of the original parties to the Paris Agreement, Malaysia has remained steadfast in its efforts to combat climate change, with an ambitious target to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. Over the past decade, the nation has made significant strides in embracing clean and sustainable energy solutions as part of broader decarbonisation efforts. At COP28, Malaysia is showcasing its proactive efforts and achievements as a regional climate leader through a dedicated Malaysia Pavilion, which is being led by the Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment, and Climate Change as well as the Malaysian Green Technology and Climate Change Corporation as the implementing agency. The Malaysia Pavilion stands as a tangible demonstration of the country’s climate leadership to the 40,000 delegates expected to attend COP28. More than just a physical structure, it embodies the spirit of collaboration, highlighting the nation is coming together to recognise that the battle against climate change requires a collective response. Throughout the conference, the Malaysia Pavilion will host interactive exhibits, panel discussions, and side events designed to offer diverse insights into the nation’s climate initiatives, while fostering more collaborations and investments. Critical issues that will be showcased include the just energy transition, mitigation, adaptation, and sustainable finance. Malaysia is also hosting a strong local delegation at COP28 comprising more than 200 delegates, including ministers, government officers, subject matter experts, private sector representatives, and other relevant organisations. This includes the Malaysian Youth Delegation (MYD) to bring forth the voices of Malaysian youth on key climate issues. As Malaysia’s incumbent electricity utility, Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) will be joining the Malaysian contingent at COP28 as well to reinforce the country’s commitment to advancing the global energy transition. The participation will be especially focused on spotlighting the initiatives and goals outlined in the recently launched National Energy Transition Roadmap (NETR). These include TNB’s plans to enhance efficiency in Malaysia’s thermal plants, expand its renewable portfolio, and achieve 8,300 megawatts of renewable energy by 2025. In addition, the utility giant has allocated RM90 billion in investments between 2025 and 2030, which includes RM35 billion specifically for transition-related projects. Through this participation at COP28, TNB aims to forge strategic partnerships in critical areas like hydrogen, nuclear, carbon capture, utilisation, and storage (CCUS) and green funding to further accelerate Malaysia’s transition toward a new low-carbon, high-growth, and sustainable economy in ways that are both transformational and just. Climate Action Can’t Wait As the world continues to face serious and irreversible damage from climate change, COP28 is a critical opportunity to strengthen global solidarity and inspire the hope, optimism, and ingenuity required for more ambitious climate action. Together, the world can accelerate a transition that puts our economies on the path to a more sustainable future.