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Laura Clarke

13th December 2023

Climate

Celebrate with caution: COP28’s final deal

It’s been a tumultuous two weeks in the UAE. From the operationalization of the loss and damage fund on day one, to accusations that the COP Presidency would surreptitiously use the conference to secure further fossil fuel deals; we didn’t truly know what we were going to get from COP this year.

We knew that the Global Stocktake would offer a critical chance to reset, opening a window of opportunity to reestablish trust in the COP process by accelerating climate action and ambition through international cooperation and collaboration. This wouldn’t be with more words and pledges, but by taking action to reduce emissions, addressing loss and damage, and adopting the right policies to allow investments into green energy and the phase out of fossil fuels.

And whilst COP28’s final agreement text gives some cause to celebrate – a commitment to being led by science and the need to limit warming to 1.5C, tripling renewable energy capacity globally by 2030, and calling for a transition away from fossil fuels to achieve net zero by 2050 – there are also numerous loopholes that could potentially lead to a delay in climate action.

We must see the loopholes being closed, and this means States and corporates swiftly adopting the right rules – the right national climate laws, the right policies, and the right international law initiatives - to phase out fossil fuels, support the most vulnerable communities, and secure real-world progress.

It is the adoption of these rules that will allow for fiscal reforms and alignment of financial flows - to both support vulnerable communities, and to deliver on scaling up climate-neutral energy systems. These rules will enable an end to greenwashing and disinformation campaigns, as well as facilitate the adoption of ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions, led by science. And the right rules will put equity and environmental justice at the heart of the response to the climate and nature crises, such as advisory opinions, issued by international courts and tribunals, clarifying the obligations on States to address the climate crisis.

It’s these rules and laws that have an immense power to shape the world around us - from the way governments and businesses behave, to the systems of energy, transport and agriculture we all rely on. They offer a legal foundation to turn global promises into real, enforceable actions.

And although COP28 may be over, at ClientEarth, it doesn’t stop there. We will continue our work to strive for greater environmental justice; strengthening the law, litigating, and supporting local communities in using the law to defend their environment and their rights.

This blog post originally appeared as part of Laura Clarke's LinkedIn newsletter 'The Earth is our client'. Subscribe