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United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Executive Secretary Simon Stiell speaks during the opening ceremony of the COP28 United Nations climate summit in Dubai on November 30, 2023. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: At the opening ceremony of the COP28 in Dubai on Thursday, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) set a climate action roadmap for countries with a call to present a transparency report in 2024 and deliver new NDCs in 2025.

In 2024, countries will submit their first Biennial Transparency Report, Simon Stiell, UNFCCC Executive Secretary said in his opening remarks, while spelling out that vision for the next two years. He said the new transparency report will mean the reality of individual progress of countries cannot be concealed.

“We will also agree at COP29 how to finance this massive shift, with the new finance goal,” said Stiell. He also announced a new target for the countries to deliver new NDCs or Nationally Determined Contributions.

“Let this be your first official notice that early in 2025, countries must deliver new Nationally Determined Contributions,” Simon Stiell, UNFCCC Executive Secretary said in his opening remarks. “Please start working on them now,” he said.

NDC is a climate action plan to cut emissions and adapt to climate impacts. Each Party to the Paris Agreement is required to establish an NDC and update it every five years. So far, all 193 Parties to the Paris Agreement have issued at least a first NDC; 151 Parties communicated a new or updated NDC as of 2 November 2021. At COP28, a Global Stocktake will assess progress on Paris Agreement goals. This process will further encourage countries to take ambitious climate actions that keep warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Climate action should run

Stiell said the UAE’s climate stewardship at COP28 “is a heavy responsibility.”

Drawing a poignant parallel with his son’s early steps, Stiell pointed out the crucial juncture in humanity’s climate journey. He asserted the need for transitioning swiftly from an unstable world to effective responses to complex climate impacts.

“We must teach climate action to run because this has been the hottest year ever for humanity. So many terrible records were broken and we are paying the price with people’s lives and livelihoods. We’re standing at a precipice, facing the Global Stocktake,” said Stiell.

He suggested two options at the Global Stocktake: delayed progress or making a quick commitment to global safety and resilience, with a just transition away from fossil fuels to climate funding including the response to loss and damage.

“If we do not signal the terminal decline of the fossil fuel era as we know it, we welcome our own terminal decline. And we choose to pay with people’s lives. If this transition isn’t just, we won’t transition at all. That means justice within and between countries.”

He said benefits could be shared across the society, ensuring that everyone — women, indigenous peoples, and youth, in all their diversity — have equal opportunities to benefit from these transitions.

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Delegates held accountable

Calling for transparency “in the actions and decisions we take with each other,” he said the UNFCCC has reformed the badging system to ensure accountability of each and every delegates.

“Every participant at this COP is already publicly listed. The whole world now knows who is here. They will hold us to account for what we do or do not do. As Yoda would say “Do or not do. There is no try,” Yes, this is the biggest COP yet — but attending a COP does not tick the climate box for the year. The badges around your necks make you responsible for delivering climate action here and at home.”

“Turn the badge around your necks into a badge of honour, and a lifebelt for the millions of people you are working for. Accelerate climate action. Teach it to run,” he exhorted the thousands of delegates.

The UNFCCC is committed to tracking all announcements and initiatives beyond the conference, said Stiell. “I am committing the UNFCCC to track all announcements made and initiatives launched. So that long after the cameras have gone, we can ensure our promises continue to serve the planet.”

Science is not substitute for action

Jim Skea, the new chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the UN body for assessing the science related to climate change, meanwhile, said that despite promising emissions reductions and renewable energy cost decreases, immediate and deep emission cuts are essential to meet Paris Agreement goals.

Highlighting the gap in adaptation and financing, Skea said: “I can reassure you that the scientific community is poised, using the resources available to it to support the outcomes of the COP28, in shaping climate actions based on science but finally science by itself is not a substitute for action,” said Skea.