By Keith Norman, Chief Sustainability Officer – Lyten | 7/24/2023
COP28 stands as the pinnacle of climate events worldwide, uniting leaders from across the globe to forge collaborative solutions to combat climate change. It serves as a pivotal forum where government officials convene to engage in discussions to address some of the most pressing and convoluted challenges of our generation.
Taking place in Dubai during late November and early December, COP28 will be presided over by this year’s president, Sultan Al Jaber. The recently revealed agenda items provide a unique insight into the state of our planet and shed light on the urgent issues we must face in unison.
“Today I am calling on all of us to disrupt business as usual, unite around decisive action and achieve game-changing results.”
Sultan Al Jaber, COP28 President
Here is a link to one of many articles on Al Jaber’s speech in Brussels last week, and below are some thoughts on the proposed four pillars for COP28.
Pillar 1: Fast-tracking the energy transition.
This is the obvious first pillar. We simply need to move quicker. One of the most interesting features of this year’s COP is that 2023 is the year of a “global stocktake” of progress in limiting global warming to 1.5°C. In other words, it is our first detailed climate report card executed by experts around the world. In essence, it reveals that we are not on track, not even close. Phrases used by Al Jaber such as the need to be “brutally honest,” “disrupt business as usual,” “challenge old models,” and “bridge divides,” underscore the urgency of the matter. The message is that we must make uncomfortable changes today.
Pillar 2: Fixing climate finance.
This addresses one of multiple elephants in the room. Access to capital is frustratingly slow, and the traditional capital markets alone cannot shoulder the risk associated with the crucial investments required at the necessary scale. This is precisely where governments can collectively create a transformative impact, exemplified by gatherings like COP. My hope is that discourse pertaining to finance is closely followed by conversations about permitting, as these two aspects are inextricably connected. If capital is made available but the process to permit new clean energy projects is not streamlined, our progress will be rendered stagnant, despite the additional funds.
Pillar 3: Focusing on people.
I am inspired to witness a revitalized focus on people and the impacts of climate change on health, food security, and biodiversity. Climate change has long grappled with PR challenges, often perceived as a distant scientific phenomenon with minimal tangible impact on people’s daily lives. However, this perception is rapidly evolving.
2023 may mark a turning point as public opinions begin to shift globally. We are now witnessing a surge of life-altering climate disasters – unprecedented heatwaves sweeping across regions worldwide, alarming occurrences such as ocean surface temperatures surpassing 90°F off the coast of Florida, devastating wildfires in Canada, and destructive flooding in Vermont, to name a few. The reality of climate change is coming into sharp focus, propelling a new wave of awareness among people around the world. The expanding list of real time experiences has the power to change long term mindsets. My hope is a turning point in mass scale public opinion.
Pillar 4: Making inclusivity a hallmark of the summit.
Enter the second elephant in the room. The richest economies in the world hold a massively disproportionate share of the wealth and emitted a massively disproportionate share of historical CO2 emissions. But climate change is a global problem and developing economies, without an economic pathway to break the link between economic growth and emissions growth, are left with a no-win situation of tradeoffs between the economy and the environment.
Al Jaber is targeting rich countries to finally arrange the $100 billions of annual climate funding for the developing world as part of the road to COP28. This challenge has been long delayed and frankly, diving into the topic highlights the sheer difficulty of garnering worldwide support for this critical cause.
Implementing a more equitable pathway to net zero as a foundational pillar for COP28 fills me with hope. It reminds me of my more than 10 years working in Africa in the early 2000s, where access to communications went straight from no communication to cellular communication, entirely skipping the technological step and enormous infrastructure cost of landlines for phones and internet. The magnitude of the climate challenge is undeniably vast and intricate, yet it serves as a testament to the transformative power of modern-day technology and policy.
At Lyten, we eagerly anticipate participating in COP28 to express our unwavering support for these four pillars, and to share how our cutting-edge technology is positioned to play a pivotal role in facilitating an equitable transition to net zero emissions. We are enthusiastic to collaborate with climate leaders to amplify our collective efforts further. If you are attending COP28, we invite you to explore our company to promote the possibility of a sustainable future together.