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State of COP28 talks: Little progress, no clear way forward on international cooperation

Five days into COP28, there is little progress on international cooperation and time is running out

The current state of negotiations does not define a clear way forward.”
— Henri Waisman, DDP Initiative Director
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES, December 5, 2023 / -- The Paris Agreement defined the enhancement of international cooperation as one of the two key objectives of the Global Stocktake (GST) at COP28. But, after five days of negotiations, there is very little progress on this question. The current state of negotiations does not define a clear way forward to ensure that this question will be addressed seriously in the coming years.

This gap is concerning because all the analyses, notably those conducted in the context of the Deep Decarbonization Pathways initiative, show that the international assumptions on sectors (e.g. trade, finance, technologies etc.) largely condition the possibilities for countries to implement the drastic changes required to reach the objectives of the Paris Agreement. Significant improvement in the way international cooperation is happening would help countries take more ambitious targets for 2030 and beyond, when they have to revise their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) by 2025. It would help reduce the difference between targets and actual actions (the “implementation gap”).  It would also be essential to advance the adaptation agenda, in particular addressing transboundary risks linked to a gap in adaptation.

Is a positive outcome at COP28 still possible?

Let’s be clear, the few days left in the negotiations will not compensate for the lack of attention given to international cooperation throughout the two years of the Global Stocktake process. But important positive signals can still be given by the decisions made here at COP. Notably, the idea to "Establish a dialogue to inform enhanced international cooperation by UNFCCC and non-UNFCCC towards effective international cooperation starting in 2024" has been proposed by the Africa group, and is supported by other developing countries. But time is running out to discuss its details and there is a risk that it is not kept in the final version of the decision here at COP28.

It is key that the Global Stocktake keeps the dialogue on international cooperation alive and ensures that it starts without delay. This dialogue is a good practical solution to ensure continuity in the discussion on international cooperation, as a lever of ambition for the revision of the NDCs and as an essential condition to support their implementation. To make this dialogue a constructive space to advance the collective agenda, it should be centered on addressing the needs of countries to implement their transformations consistent with the objectives of the Paris Agreement. It should also establish a concrete way for connecting the UNFCCC with all others for when the international cooperation agenda can be concretely advanced.

By adopting a dialogue following these principles, the UNFCCC would play its critical roles of sending clear signals, catalyzing action and ensuring continuity of the conversations on solutions.

Renee Karunungan
Deep Decarbonization Pathways Initiative
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