The text for COP28, the 28th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was adopted by 200 States on December 13 in Dubai, after prolonged negotiations. Members of civil society present on the ground and around the world advocated tirelessly for a more ambitious action plan, justice for the populations and countries most vulnerable to the climate crisis, and a clear commitment to phase out fossil fuels. In the face of record numbers of fossil fuel industry lobbyists present, progress was hard won.
It may seem surprising, but after nearly 30 years of negotiations, this is the first time than an official agreement contains an explicit commitment to transition away from fossil fuels — the primary source of emissions that cause climate change. The overreaching goal remains carbon neutrality by 2050 and respecting the +1.5°C threshold for global temperature increase. There was marked progress, however, reactions remained mixed.
Many were encouraged by the explicit mention of fossil fuels and heartened by the adoption of a concret plan to implement a fund to compensate countries of the Global South for loss and damage resulting from climate change, which includes more intense and frequent droughts, forest fires, flooding and major storms. But many civil society organizations expressed disappointment in the lack of ambition, criticizing loopholes and weak language. Climate Action Network Canada lauded the "historic groundswell of support for a just, science-based transition away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy" but also pointed out many short comings in the text. The Climate Reality Project described the final agreement as "imperfect progress". Notably, the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) expressed reservations, deeming the text insufficient to address climate threats, including rising sea levels that threaten the very existence of many of its member states. Also during the conference, Indigenous Climate Action launched the Decolonizing Climate Policy Phase 2 Report: "We know that settler-led climate policies are failing... And so we are looking elsewhere for the real solutions, for transformative approaches to policy-making from the ground up, for centering our own ways relating to the land, waters, and territories."
Regional and city representatives were also present at COP28, highlighting the importance of municipal policy for both emissions reduction and adaptation at the Local Climate Action Summit (a video recording of the first day of the event is available). Both ICLEI and C40 Cities provided analysis and summaries from a municipal perspective.
Local, grassroots advocacy will be extremely important in generating momentum for collective change and ensuring accountability for the commitments made at COP28. Climate Reality Canada's on-going work through advocacy training, the Community Climate Hub network and the National Climate League is part of a broad movement for healthier, just and climate-ready communities. This work cannot be done with the engagement and collaboration people across the country.
As reported in The Hill, The Climate Reality Project founder Al Gore noted, “this is why grassroots pressure — from people who understand how high the stakes are — is the crucial element... It’s time for people at the grassroots level in every country to speak up. We need to break through this blockade that the fossil fuel industry and the big petrostates have been using to block this process.”
“While we do see the North Star, with finally integrating an explicit mention of fossil fuels, it seems like the view is still blurred by the heavy Dubai smog. Science and Indigenous peoples’ knowledge leave no ambiguity: to stop rising temperatures and ensure a livable future, we must equitably phase out fossil fuels and transition to true net zero by 2050. End of story. Wealthy nations created this climate crisis. COP28 was the opportunity to right this wrong and adequately plan a global response to the biggest crisis of all, adequately finance Global South nations to rebuild after climate disasters, adapt to our warming world, and build resilient clean energy economies. Unfortunately, while this decision makes history, it allows dangerous loopholes with unproven technologies, maintains carbon capitalism, and falls short in terms of scale, means of implementation and equity. As civil society, we will keep our eyes on our North Star, uplifting and amplifying the voices of frontline communities and demanding climate justice.”
— Climate Reality Canada's Executive Director, André-Yanne Parent, pictured below at the action for Global Goal on Adaptation.
THE CLIMATE REALITY PROJECT AT COP28
Biodiversity COP15 and Climate COP28: Addressing the Underlying Causes of the Crises
In collaboration with Nature Québec and COPTICOM, Climate Reality Canada was very excited to present a panel discussion at the Canada Pavilion all about the underlying causes of the overlapping biodiversity and climate crises. Effectively addressing the polycrisis requires action in many vast and diverse policy areas — economic systems, institutional structures, production models and resource management — just to name a few. This conversation is a follow up on the Montréal Call. Launched during COP15 and endorsed by representatives from governments and organizations worldwide, it offers hope in the face of the climate crisis and biodiversity loss. How can we make the underlying causes of these crises a part of negociations Conference of the Parties (COP)? This panel, which included Climate Reality Canada's Executive Director, André-Yanne Parent, was opportunity to take a birds eye view of the issues and discuss holistic approaches to tackling complex and interrelated problems.
On December 9th at #COP28, the Canadian Pavilion showcased poems from the RewriteCOP campaign, which aims to broaden the climate policy conversation through stories and art. The collaboration, led by the Agam Agenda and Climate Reality Project branches in the Philippines, Africa and Canada, focused on amplifying the voices of those most marginalized in climate policy negotiations.
The exhibit featured a combination of poems, visual art and other creative expressions that captured the national and regional demands for climate action, as well as individuals' experiences with the climate change.
Using creative exploration, RewriteCOP encourages individuals to connect with the crisis and use their creativity to express demands to policymakers. In brief, the exhibition aimed to challenge them with calls for ambitious climate action while providing a fresh perspective and renewed energy to address the urgency of the climate crisis.
24 Hours of Reality
People from around the world gathered in Dubai in December 2023 for the annual United Nations climate summit. The Climate Reality Project was on the ground taking part, along with world leaders, youth activists, Indigenous representatives — and there were also over 2,400 fossil fuel lobbyists.
We set out to peel back the curtain on this key gathering, bringing you stories, conversations and events from Dubai. From the key issues of debate to the voices of activists taking a stand, scroll down to dig deeper and get a sense of what a day in the life at COP 28 looks like, including videos from regional branch managers, Climate Reality Leaders and a wrap-up video by Al Gore.
The Climate Dialogues series
The Climate Dialogues were two weeks of cross-sectoral meetings throughout the 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
In a space facilitated by civil society from Québec, the program included daily panels, discussions and debriefings to follow the progress of negotiations and identify the issues at stake.