COP28: leading now, for a sustainable tomorrow

30 November, 2023

In the lead-up to the 28th COP (COP28), all eyes turn to the discussions that will unfold in Dubai.

The United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP) serves as a global platform where civil society, world leaders, private businesses, scientists, and country representatives come together to address one of the most pressing issues of our time: climate change. Its significance lies in its ability to bring nations into a critical dialogue on the implementation and assessment of commitments made in the Paris Agreement, in 2015, which outlined ambitious goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate the devastating impacts of climate change.

Global Review of the Paris Agreement: the journey so far and challenges ahead

Central to COP28 is the approval of the Global Review of the Paris Agreement –  a critical assessment of the progress made since the signing of the historic agreement in 2015. Every eight years, the world has the opportunity to reflect on commitments made and assess to what extent goals have been achieved. This is a moment of global accountability, where each country needs to face its responsibilities and identify areas that still require action.

Since 2015, many countries have implemented measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote more sustainable practices. However, it has become clear that to achieve the ambitious goals of the Paris Agreement, greater effort and stronger international co-operation are needed. This review is not just a historical record but a guide for the future, outlining the path we need to follow to ensure a healthier and more sustainable planet for future generations.

An analysis by Baker Tilly of more than 300 major Western European companies has revealed serious gaps in business preparedness across the EU for the imminent implementation of the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD). The survey highlights that while businesses are aware the directive is coming, there has been slow progress in facing up to the realities of what will happen next. 88% of companies surveyed said they do not yet feel ready to meet the expectations of the CSRD and 57% of respondents feel they have little or no knowledge of the new ESG reporting obligations that arise from CSRD. Interestingly however, only 21% view CSRD as a burden with little additional value, suggesting the problem is largely a communications gap. There certainly appears to be an appetite to understand more about the implications, with over half of survey respondents (51%) saying they are ‘curious’ to know more.

Climate action financing: the engine for effective change

A key outcome of COP28 is the expectation of a new standard for climate action financing. To turn promises into tangible actions, it is essential that countries commit not only to ambitious goals, but also the financial resources needed to achieve them. This is an opportunity for more developed nations to fulfill their promises to contribute significant financing to developing countries that often face economic challenges in implementing sustainable measures.

Financing is the backbone of climate action. Without adequate resources, crucial projects will remain ideas. Moreover, this is a moment to discuss not only the quantity but also the efficiency of financing. How do we ensure that resources are directed to projects with real impact? How do we create monitoring mechanisms to ensure transparency and accountability in the use of these funds?

Nationally Determined Contributions: designing realistic commitments for the future

During COP30 in 2025, countries will be expected to present their new Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). These individual promises from each nation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change are mandatory for global success. COP28 will be a decisive moment to set the foundations for these future NDCs. Countries must begin to outline their commitments for the coming years. It is an opportunity for serious reflection on what worked in previous NDCs, what can be improved, and which sectors need special attention. This is the moment to learn from past experiences and design realistic and achievable goals for the future.

Urgency and severity: the need for immediate action

COP28 comes after the sixth assessment cycle of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IPCC report emphasised the urgency and severity of climate change, warning of the narrow window available to avoid the point of no return. The world faces disruptive consequences to its ecological and socio-economic systems, and COP28 is an immense opportunity to act.

The IPCC report is clear: the time for action is now. We can no longer postpone decisions and commitments vital to the health of our planet. COP28 is not just another conference; it is a call for global action. Every country, regardless of its size or level of development, has a role to play. International co-operation and collective commitment are essential to face the magnitude of the challenges we confront.

Building a sustainable future

As we prepare for COP28, we are reminded that climate change is a global issue that requires collective action. Nations worldwide must join forces and pressure governments to commit to ensuring a more sustainable future for generations to come, relying on the vital role of private companies in this journey.

Visionary companies are leading the way, adopting sustainable practices, investing in clean technologies, and promoting awareness. COP28 offers an opportunity for businesses to engage, collaborate, and contribute to innovative solutions. Together, we can turn challenges into opportunities and build a greener, more resilient, and sustainable future for all.

Meet the expert
Gabriel Buzzi
Advisory Partner and ESG Expert
Baker Tilly, Brazil

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