UN puts climate ‘course correction’ on Cop28 negotiating table

In response to a global stocktake report, ministers will debate collective goals such as phasing out coal use by 2040 and mobilising $200-400bn for loss and damage

Climate 'course correction' on the Cop28 negotiating table

Firefighters extinguish fires on peatland in Indonesia (Photo credit: Al Zulkifli/Greenpeace)


The United Nations has put a series of challenging climate goals on the agenda for Cop28, in its effort to get the world back on course to limit global warming to 1.5C.

A UN “stocktake” of progress found the world is heading to blow past the 1.5C goal and, after speaking to governments, the UN has put together a list of options to stop that happening.

The head of the UN’s climate arm Simon Stiell told reporters today that “we are far from where we need to be as a global community” and the “window of opportunity is rapidly closing”. The response to the stocktake is an “opportunity for course correction”.

The 65-page document published today contains several options which are far more ambitious than current policies and targets.

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These include rich countries stopping exploration for fossil fuels by 2030,  delivering $200-400 billion a year to help climate victims through a loss and damage fund and all countries phasing out coal use by 2040.

Government negotiators will narrow down the list at a series of meetings over the next two months, before government ministers decide what they can all agree upon at Cop28 in Dubai.

Stiell said that governments broadly agreed “as to where the gaps are and where those gaps need to close”.

The disagreements, he said, “come from how its done and who should carry the weight in terms of the action and the responses that are required”.

In recent years, developed nations like the US and Europe have pushed for big emerging economies like China to do more to reduce emissions and to deliver climate finance. 

China and allies have pushed back, arguing that the responsibility still lies with the wealthiest nations who have historically polluted the most.

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The stocktake is a once-every-five-years process designed to check that governments are going to meet their collective targets to limit global warming.

Its convenors have been gathering input and data from governments, campaigners and scientists and published a report summarising the evidence a month ago.

Danish climate minister Dan Jorgensen and South Africa’s environment minister Barbara Creecy are jointly leading the response to the global stocktake report.

The two hosted climate ministers at the United Nations in New York last month. That closed-door meeting helped inform the UN’s new document.

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Stockholm Environment Institute researcher Richard Klein told Climate Home that the document was further proof that "the collective sense of urgency to act is undeniable".

But, he added that government negotiations on which bits of the paper to agree on at Cop28 "will still prove really difficult".

"Despite what appear to be unanimous calls for greater ambition, there is no guarantee that the outcome of Cop28 will be an ambitious one", he said.

This article was corrected on 6/10 to remove references to phasing out fossil fuels by 2040 being in the document. While the target was in a UNFCCC summary of the document and was mentioned by Simon Stiell at a press conference, it does not appear in the actual document.

This article was edited on 11/10 to say that the document's reference to phasing out fossil fuel production ahead of 2030 only applies to developed countries, rather than all countries, as originally written. The document's exact wording is "Support differentiated pathways for countries in pursuit of net zero and fossil fuel phase down where no further exploration of fossil fuel is targeted well ahead of 2030". A UNFCCC spokesperson told Climate Home "this submission by [the African Group] refers to developed countries".

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