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Driving Global Climate Action at COP28: Implications for Stakeholders

Hosted by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in Dubai from November 30 to December 12, the annual United Nations climate conference (COP28) is expected to convene more than 70,000 participants including dozens of heads of state and leaders from the private, nonprofit, and public sectors. The talks will look to reset global climate action and address a crisis that is spiraling out of control.

In the last few months, no corner of the globe has been left untouched by climate-related impacts. The world saw the hottest summer on record in human history, destructive wildfires that leveled whole communities and uprooted families, and more frequent and intense storms, droughts and floods. Meanwhile, geopolitical tensions like the war in Ukraine continue to divide political leaders and complicate climate-exacerbated issues of energy affordability, food security, and human rights. Nowhere are these repercussions felt more unforgivingly than in those places least responsible for global warming pollution – developing nations across the Global South.

Set against this backdrop, COP28 comes at a critical moment for global stakeholders to correct course before the end of the decade, but the path is narrow. Currently, climate targets are nowhere near sufficient to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report puts this in stark context:

“The choices and actions implemented in this decade will have impacts now and for thousands of years.”

Setting the scene

Held annually since 1992, the annual “Conference of Parties” (COP) is the main decision-making body of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the single most consequential platform for 197 countries of the world (the “Parties”) and other stakeholders to gather, discuss, and agree on policies and initiatives that limit global temperature rise and mitigate the impacts of climate change. Historically a forum for multilateral negotiations, COP has recently evolved into the leading global venue for leaders across governments, corporations, finance, and civil society to facilitate deals, develop policies, and build their climate and sustainability networks.

At COP21 in 2015, Parties emerged with the landmark Paris Agreement, an international treaty that aims to hold “the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels” and pursue efforts “to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.” The Paris Agreement also requires governments to submit a climate plan, also known as a nationally determined contribution, or NDC.

While COP27 in Egypt was criticized for its lack of critical action on climate goals and clear pathways for implementation, it closed with a historic, breakthrough agreement on “loss and damage” financing for vulnerable countries hit hard by climate disasters. COP28 will be responsible for bringing this fund into full operation.

This year, the UAE has put forward an ambitious framework for ensuring that COP28 is a success across all key areas of focus, including mitigation, adaptation, finance, and loss and damage. COP28 also coincides with the delivery of the first-ever “Global Stocktake,” an UN-mandated report card of global progress towards the goals of the Paris Agreement. While many expect this year’s Stocktake to be a dire assessment of progress, COP28 can provide the forum to take corrective action.

Maximizing engagement

The two-week long COP program offers a platform for business, civil society, and subnational leaders to contribute to critical dialogue, accelerate clean-energy technology deployment, and reinforce government commitments with supportive investments.

Effective participation in COP requires an in-depth understanding of your objectives, audiences, budget, and messaging. It also requires a strong appreciation of existing partnerships and alliances that can be cultivated to drive meaningful impact on the ground, and knowhow to navigate and activate the massive international media presence covering the event.

There are numerous ways for stakeholders at all stages of their climate journey to take an active role at COP28. These include:

–   Identifying speaking opportunities on the most important stages

–   Hosting or sponsoring side-events that cater to relevant audiences

–   Engaging priority international and domestic stakeholders in the leadup to and during COP28 to drive your priorities

–   Leveraging key moments before and during COP28 to secure smart media engagement

Building upon decades of advising clients on their environmental, social, and corporate governance strategies around the world, FGS Global can help clients maximize their presence at COP28 and stand out in a crowded field. Our climate and sustainability experts are plugged into all aspects of COP28, providing clients with the insight and resources needed to capitalize on this pivotal moment and achieve their objectives.

Learn more about our team and services and how you can stay informed on the road to COP28.