COP28: half-hearted signals to end the fossil fuel era

COP28: half-hearted signals to end the fossil fuel era

The United Nations Climate Change Conference COP28, hosted in the oil-rich nation of the United Arab Emirates, presented a critical opportunity for making bold commitments to the urgently needed transition away from fossil fuels and to safeguarding our planet’s climate stability. This historic event witnessed the convergence of over 80,000 delegates from nearly 200 countries in Dubai, marking the largest COP in history. An estimated 400 indigenous delegates also attended. 

Together, we engaged in vital discussions aimed at addressing the climate crisis and securing a resilient future amidst the relentless onslaught of extreme weather events and climate related disasters affecting every corner of our globe.   A record-breaking 2,400 fossil fuel lobbyists also descended upon the UN conference, revealing the industry’s perverse efforts to influence negotiations and hinder essential decisions crucial to our planet’s stability.

Throughout two intense weeks of negotiations, high-level meetings with world leaders, and side events and nonbinding declarations, indigenous voices resounded with the call for a swift, equitable, fully-funded transition away from fossil fuels. Our delegation called for a planned phase out of fossil fuels the cornerstone of meeting  the climate crisis. 

However, the COP 28 outcome document fell short of expectations. After 28 years of global UNFCCC gatherings and irrefutable evidence of the role of fossil fuels in the climate crisis, the Global Stocktake (GST) agreement did not adequately signal the end of the fossil era; instead, it danced around with loopholes and ambiguous language, allowing for example for flawed carbon capture technology and natural gas to be viewed as solution pathways. While we were pleased to see the text of the GST calling for tripling renewable energy capacity and doubling energy efficiency by 2030, the agreement lacks a concrete roadmap for achieving these targets or securing the necessary funding.

The GST text did underscore the critical importance of conserving, protecting, and restoring nature and ecosystems in pursuit of the Paris Agreement’s temperature goals. This includes ambitious efforts to halt and reverse deforestation and forest degradation by 2030. It also acknowledges the need for increased support and investment in these endeavors (see Articles 33 and 34 of the GST decision text). In this context, the Amazon Sacred Headwaters Alliance, tirelessly advocating for direct funding to local stewards for the preservation of the Amazon basin and protection of our ancestral lands and cultures, is heartened to witness our efforts resonating at the highest levels. Getting direct funding to indigenous and frontline communities who are stewarding a significant share of the planet’s climate-stabilizing tropical rainforests continues to be a key issue. Less than 8% of the $1.7 billion in funding pledged at COP26 has so far reached local and front line communities. We remain vigilant in ensuring these commitments are not just words on paper but are translated into action and adequately funded.

Equity and justice were central themes of civil society advocacy, with a loss and damage fund agreed on the very first day of the conference to support vulnerable nations and communities most affected by climate change. While the establishment of the fund is a long-fought victory, the current amount  pledged is US$700 million and far from the annual needs of developing countries which is estimated to be greater than US$400 billion a year and rapidly rising. We have a long road ahead on this issue.  

During COP28, parties also adopted the crucial Just Transition Work Program (JTWP) within the framework of international cooperation and made some strides toward realizing the Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA), despite criticism from non-industrialized nations.

Amazon Sacred Headwaters Alliance on the ground

At COP28, Amazon Sacred Headwaters delegation participated in numerous meetings and high-level dialogues and passionately called for increased protection of our territories and rights, emphasizing the intricate connection between healthy Amazonian ecosystems and global climate stability. Indigenous peoples of the Amazon Sacred Headwaters Alliance delegates shared their perspectives on climate action and solutions across numerous panels, forums, and sessions spanning the expansive Blue and Green zones that temporarily transformed Dubai’s Expo City.

We engaged in candid and open dialogues with indigenous communities from around the world, and with multilateral organizations, scientists, and policymakers. These evolving partnerships seek to amplify our voices, ensuring that our perspectives guide international climate policies and garner support for our sustainable initiatives on the ground.

COP28 has once again underscored the vital importance of uniting around shared but differentiated responsibilities in protecting our planet and the Amazon. The ancestral and traditional knowledge, along with the wisdom of indigenous peoples, will play a fundamental role in preserving life on Earth as we know it.

We stand resolute in our commitment to protect the Amazon, knowing that in doing so, we safeguard our collective future.

We protect the Amazon.

We protect the future.

Thank you for your unwavering support.

For the Amazon and Future Generations,