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COP28: What are we expecting?

The 28th Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP28) will take place from 28th November to 12th December 2023. COPs have been taking place for almost three decades and see representatives from hundreds of countries gather to agree actions to tackle the climate crisis. Yet despite some progress, the world is still on track for a global temperature rise of over 2 degrees - considered a critical threshold for dangerous and cascading effects of human-generated climate change.

Issues and Criticisms of COP

COP28 is being held in Dubai. This location in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has led to intense criticism as the UAE is one of the world’s largest oil producers - a huge and direct contributor to climate change. In addition, the appointment of Sultan Al Jabar, CEO of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, to lead the global climate talks has been controversial, as meaningful commitments from oil and gas producers are crucial for a successful transition to net zero.

The process is also heavily influenced by the interests of powerful countries and corporations. Previous COPs, in particular COP26 in Glasgow, faced criticism for not being accessible to delegations and activists from less wealthy nations due to high travel and accommodation costs. Furthermore, it was noted that most representatives were male and that the voices of indigenous peoples, who protect the majority of the world's biodiversity, did not have a significant enough platform.

Despite these valid criticisms, along with many others, meeting up, listening across differences, and collaborating on behalf of the Earth and climate are essential and positive aspects of international meetings. As such, TreeSisters continue to closely monitor international gatherings, pledges, and texts to listen for impacts on trees, women and communities.

What would we like to see coming out of negotiations, and what are we expecting?

We believe that communities should have the self-determination to be stewards of the land and forests they inhabit. And that this should be supported in a myriad of ways by the international community. We support women's active and informed involvement in COP28, with all efforts being made to achieve gender equity in climate discussions. We believe there should be opportunities for an open and detailed review of the impacts of “solutions” being negotiated. In particular, their effects on communities and forests before their adoption, as well as investment in non-market-based mechanisms for supporting trees, communities, and cultures.

We caution against policies that exacerbate deforestation and land grabs. Carbon credit ventures have led to a drive to secure control of lands and forests, often driving poor land and community care practices. In line with our Carbon Position, this monetisation of nature and the pathway presented through a market-based carbon accounting route do not add up to long-term care of life.

We also question several of the proposed “solutions” to addressing climate change, for example, the proposal of global solar dimming, genetic modification of plants, reducing farmer access to seeds, using nanotechnology in ecosystems, and increasing artificial intelligence-monitored surveillance. We believe these should be carefully scrutinised, and thorough examinations of their potential effects should be encouraged before approval.

Despite our frustrations with COP, it remains the most significant occasion when representatives from 197 countries come together to attempt to agree on meaningful action to tackle the climate crisis. The event provides an opportunity for representatives on the frontline of climate change, such as the Alliance of Small Island States threatened by rising sea levels, to address the world's biggest emitters directly. Additionally, the event serves as a platform for mass demonstrations, bringing together millions of protesters at events around the globe to demand urgent action to protect our planet.

What would you like to see?

We would love to hear from you about what pledges and actions you want to see come out of COP. What action would you call for if you were coordinating events at COP28 or making an international announcement on behalf of a major group? And what commitments are you personally making to caring for the Earth’s systems? This can be as simple as spending time listening to nature or donating to an environmental organisation or cause you believe in. Let us know on our Facebook or Instagram platforms.


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