Leeds at COP28 | Evidence to underpin climate action

“It’s now up to world leaders to take up this knowledge and help make impactful decisions towards limiting the global temperature rise to below two degrees.”

Shona Smith and Vanessa Ternes look ahead to COP28

Shona Smith and Vanessa Ternes

On the eve of the United Nations climate change conference (COP28), PhD Intern Vanessa Ternes and Shona Smith, Head of the Priestley Centre for Climate Futures at Leeds, outline the expertise the University will bring to negotiations, and why it’s vital climate action must deliver more and do so with urgency.

COP28 begins this week in Dubai (30 November to 12 December) and the UAE Presidency is calling on leaders to ‘unite, act and deliver’.

Their priorities for COP28 focus on fast-tracking the energy transition; fixing climate finance; putting nature, people, lives and livelihoods at the heart of climate action; and mobilising for an inclusive COP.

Our role at COP28

As official observers to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process, the University is sending a delegation to Dubai, with others participating online. The delegation combines academics, researchers, students and professional service staff equipped with a wide range of expertise, who will be hosting and speaking at events and observing the COP negotiations. This delegation, and the University more broadly, play a vital role in holding parties and stakeholders to the UNFCCC to account, and in ensuring that negotiated outcomes of COPs are informed by, and align with, the latest scientific evidence.

Young COP, young delegation

This year, our COP delegation includes representatives of all career stages, including our first undergraduate delegate and six postgraduate students. Among them are many first-time attendees and people involved with youth engagement. 

With young people from across the globe involved in this year’s conference, the hope is that their influence will be reflected in the outcomes of COP28.

Taking stock of global climate action

Against a backdrop of the hottest year in human history, COP28 is set to conclude the first global stocktake, which is a check on climate action since COP21 in Paris when a 1.5-2°C global temperature threshold was agreed. 

The first synthesis report of the Global Stocktake, published in September, makes clear that current action doesn’t set us on course to meet the 1.5°C target and that systems transformation across all sectors is required. This will require a large and coordinated political response at COP.

The growing adaptation gap

The Paris Agreement isn’t just focused on limiting global temperature rise through emissions reductions but also includes goals focused on adaptation. The Global Stocktake is expected to show that action on adaptation is being made – varying by nation, sector and population – but it remains fragmented, ad hoc and isn’t consistent with the magnitude of risks faced. 

Committing to the costs

Climate finance – an important theme at COP27 – will be in focus again this year. The availability of funding for mitigation projects is seen as a catalyst for further climate action. Discussions about loss and damage deal with the question of who should bear the costs for adapting to life under climate change, and who should compensate for the damages of climate change to human lives and livelihoods. Given climate change already impacts people’s lives now, this conversation is becoming ever more urgent.

Call for action

Delegates and the wider community at Leeds agree that climate action must deliver more and do so with urgency. What the University brings to COP28 is a wealth of research and expertise on climate change, from disciplines as varied as politics, engineering and the arts. It’s now up to world leaders to take up this knowledge and help make impactful decisions towards limiting global temperature rise to below two degrees.

Further information

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