COP28 Exceeding 1.5 Degree Celsius Global Warming Inevitable Fossil Fuel Phaseout Food System Reforms Needed 10 New Climate Science Insights ABPP

COP28: On the fourth day of the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference being held in Dubai, or the 28th edition of the Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28), experts released a peer-reviewed scientific article that highlights 10 new insights in climate science. These insights are some of the most pressing findings in climate research. The article also provides guidance through 2024 and beyond on how to tackle the climate crisis. 

These experts are from Future Earth, a global network of scientists collaborating for a more sustainable planet, the Earth League, a voluntary international alliance that works to find solutions to global problems, and the World Climate Research Programme, an international programme that helps coordinate global climate research.  

Decision makers in business and policy can use these scientific insights to make informed, effective and holistic decisions on climate solutions. 

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COP28: Inevitability of overshooting 1.5 degrees Celsius 

The most important finding mentioned in the report is the fact that exceeding 1.5 degrees Celsius global warming is inevitable for at least some decades. This means that overshooting the Paris Agreement’s 1.5 degrees Celsius global warming target cannot be avoided due to insufficient mitigation of greenhouse gases. However, the magnitude and duration of the overshoot period can be minimised. This is important to reduce loss and damage, and the risk of irreversible changes. 

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COP28: Rapid fossil fuel phaseout necessary to stay within target range of Paris Agreement

The second insight is that a rapid fossil fuel phaseout is necessary to stay within the Paris Agreement target range. The carbon budget is shrinking fast, because of which it is important for the governments and private sector to stop enabling new fossil fuel projects, increase the pace of renewable energy deployment, and ensure early retirement of existing infrastructure.

Low-income countries can combat the climate crisis with the help of finance from high-income countries. A just and socially-equitable clean energy transition is paramount. 

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COP28: Carbon dioxide removal through robust policies

Carbon dioxide removal is not a replacement for rapid and deep emissions reductions, but will be necessary to combat hard-to-deal emissions, and to reduce the global temperature. Currently, carbon dioxide removal is done through forests. In the future, other carbon dioxide removal techniques that permanently remove the greenhouse gas will be required. 

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COP28: Risks linked with natural carbon sinks

The report said that over-reliance on natural carbon sinks is a risky strategy, and their future contribution is uncertain. Anything that absorbs more carbon from the atmosphere than it releases is called a carbon sink. Ocean and carbon sinks are growing due to increasing carbon dioxide emissions. 

As climate change intensifies, ocean and carbon sinks will grow further. There is a possibility that in the future, carbon sinks will absorb less carbon than has been estimated. 

Hence, instead of relying on natural carbon sinks, emission reduction efforts must be implemented on priority. Nature-based solutions can help increase carbon sinks. 

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COP28: Importance of joint governance to tackle interlinked climate crises

In order to address the interlinked climate and biodiversity emergencies, joint governance is important. The Convention on Biological Diversity, which is the international convention on biodiversity, and the UNFCCC, which is the international convention on climate change, must find better alignment, and ensure that climate finance is allocated in such a way that nature is protected, the report said. 

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COP28: Compound events

A combination of multiple drivers and hazards, whose combined impacts can be more harmful than the individual events, are called compound events. Since compound events amplify climate risks and increase their uncertainty, it is important to identify compound events, ensure robust risk management, and the provision of adequate support in emergency situations.

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COP28: Accelerating mountain glacier loss

In high mountain regions, glacier loss is accelerating. These include the Himalayas and polar regions. Glacier loss threatens the livelihoods of those living downstream as they can suffer from water shortages. About two billion people worldwide live at the foothills of mountains. Mountain dwellers will be vulnerable to flash floods due to glacier loss. 

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COP28: Increasing human immobility in regions with climate risks

Several people exposed to climate risks may be unwilling to relocate because existing institutional frameworks are not sufficient to support their needs. 

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COP28: New tools to ensure increased climate adaptation

In order to build resilience to climate change, and decrease the risk of maladaptation, it is important to monitor justice, and incorporate new tools for more effective climate adaptation. 

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COP28: Food system reforms

Just climate action is possible through reforms in food systems, from production to consumption. Mitigation measures should be implemented to ensure equity among stakeholders. 

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