From education to employment

Governments must urgently accelerate global climate delivery as COP28 concludes

hands holding a globe
  • Businesses from across the UK economy and civil society organisations are clear that world governments must redouble efforts to keep 1.5C within reach as COP28 closes with an agreement that leaves the world off track for the Paris Agreement’s landmark goal.  
  • Despite acknowledging the need to transition away from fossil fuels and welcome progress on climate finance – particularly loss and damage – and the expansion of renewable energy, ambition remains below the required level. In particular, the final text’s language on the next set of climate targets (NDCs) and fossil fuel phase-out does not meet the level required to get policy delivery back on track.
  • Leaders must now focus efforts on delivering policy frameworks and support that can enable the private sector to accelerate global progress towards net zero. 

As the international climate summit closes, the global stocktake demonstrates that the world remains off track to limit warming to 1.5C as outlined in the Paris Agreement. The science is clear that any overshoot past this target will have significant consequences for people and economic prosperity across the world. 

Business leaders recognise that getting back on track globally is critical to mitigate the impacts of climate change and maximise the economic opportunity of the net zero transition. For businesses to make the necessary investments and play their part in driving down emissions, it is essential that governments provide policy certainty and clarity. 

The right approach will deliver significant economic and social benefits in the UK and beyond, end reliance on fossil fuels and unlock essential investment in low-carbon industries. It is imperative that leaders now build on the positive steps forward that have been made across a range of sectors and deliver policy frameworks that allow the private sector to accelerate progress towards net zero. 

It was welcome to see progress on loss and damage, particularly on the landmark agreement of a fund to support developing countries, and the next step will be to secure the required finance to meet the scale of the challenge. However, pledges currently fall short of what is required, with costs facing vulnerable nations estimated to be between $100bn to $580bn, and the amount committed only around $700m [1]. 

The private sector and civil society stand ready to drive emissions reductions, make the right investments to deliver on climate ambitions, and create jobs and opportunities across the economy. Governments must urgently match this ambition and work together to close the widening gap between committed policies and the minimum target of limiting global warming to 1.5C.

Sector Response

Rt Hon Theresa May MP, Chair of the Aldersgate Group, said:

“Climate change is the greatest challenge of our generation, as well as the biggest economic opportunity of this century. The international community must now rally together and urgently deliver on the commitments made at the summit to keep 1.5°C alive. It is imperative that we see more ambitious commitments over the next year, backed up by delivery plans and financial support. Government leadership on climate change will mobilise the private sector and ensure that the whole of the economy play their part in delivering on carbon emissions reductions.”

Rachel Solomon Williams, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said:

“COP28’s final text makes progress in some areas, but overall does not deliver the decisive action that is required to limit warming to 1.5C. World governments must increase ambition and create robust policy frameworks that enable the private sector to invest and accelerate emissions reductions. In many cases businesses are now moving faster than governments on climate, but to support a 1.5C trajectory effectively they need certainty and a commitment to action. It’s time for governments to show they can enable that through domestic targets and implementation plans.”

Beccy Speight, Chief Executive Officer at the RSPB, said:

“What’s come out of COP is a mixed bag. With steps forward for nature, and lines on fossil fuels finally strengthened, there is a glimmer of hope. But proposals still fall far short of what is needed. With so much at stake we need to use every tool at our disposal to phase out fossil fuels and to help manage and mitigate against the impact of the increased temperatures already locked into the system. The natural world can help us deal with some of the worst effects that climate change will bring, but it is also in crisis itself, with climate change being one of the factors causing both species and habitats to be in decline and in peril.”

Julia Barrett, Chief Sustainability Officer at Willmott Dixon, said:

“The world remains on track to exceed 1.5C of warming which risks significant impacts for the most vulnerable around the world. Building on the agreement at COP28 to transition away from fossil fuels in energy systems, we must now rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to realise the economic opportunity of the net zero transition. More than ever, we need governments to support the ambition of responsible businesses by providing policy certainty to enable the changes we need to increase energy efficiency particularly in homes and buildings, whilst accelerating renewables deployment and phasing out fossil fuels. Time is running out; it’s Now or Never.”

Ben Reynolds, Executive Director at the Institute for European Environmental Policy UK, said:

“This COP like many before has not been short on visionary statements and pledges, although even by this measure it has fallen shorter than previous occasions and short of what is needed. What really counts for any such vision is a coherent plan for delivery, backed up by effective policy measures and enforcement mechanisms. Governments across the UK, Europe and beyond must embrace the ambition that this challenge requires, and where they take the lead they must also work together to support and compel others to align.”

Steve Andrews, CEO at Earthwatch Europe, said:

“COP28 has exposed the widening gulf between science and action. The time for half-measures is over; our planet is in trouble and its people demand better. To avert a climate catastrophe, governments must step up and implement policies that not only support but accelerate the vital work being done in the private sector. Now is the time to send strong market signals that catalyse the investment and innovation needed to make net zero a reality.”

Quinn Runkle, Director of Education, SOS-UK, said:

“The COP28 agreement falls woefully short of what we know is necessary to limit warming to 1.5C. Delays to mitigation and inaction on adaptation are direct decisions about who dies from extreme weather events. The gravity of the decisions being made cannot be underestimated. COP28 saw a record number of fossil fuel lobbyists in attendance, taking a front row seat in shaping our collective future by watering down fossil fuel phase-out commitments. Fossil fuel lobbyists have no place at COP. 

SOS-UK attended COP28, supporting a delegation of young people to advocate for more ambitious climate education policies. Education is a necessary tool to ensure future generations are better equipped to tackle the climate crisis, as well as to ensure the public support and vote for governments who will take bold and decisive action to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Since COP26 in Glasgow the UK has made strides in its domestic and international work to progress climate education, and young people continue to lead the charge across the UK and around the world to push governments to ensure climate justice is integrated across education systems.”

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