IGP Stories

IGP Director reflects on the upcoming COP28 in the UAE

Professor Henrietta L. Moore

28 November 2023

IGP Director and Fellow of the Clean Growth Leadership Network (CGLN) writes on her hopes and expectations ahead of COP28.

Ahead of COP28, I am optimistic that progress can be made following the previous COPs. However, the present situation in the UK is particularly concerning, not only regarding our goal to reach to net-zero by 2050, but the implications of this for sustainable prosperity and future flourishing. In September, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced that the UK will effectively water down its key pledges, delaying the urgent action needed to reform our carbon-intense economic system. This is dangerous at a time where the climate and biodiversity crises have reached tipping points.

The UK Government’s position is sustaining an assumption that climate action and economic prosperity are incompatible, and the current dependency of the most vulnerable members of society on a carbon-intense economic system perpetuates this idea. However – as Simon Stiell pointed out at last year’s conference – the cost of inaction is far greater than the cost of action. Nicholas Stern and Joseph Stiglitz as well as other prominent economists and academics have argued that tackling climate change can enhance our growth and societal wellbeing. I hope to see this point reemphasised at COP28, to make clear that climate action is essential for ensuring progress towards social and economic systems characterised by longevity, diversity and flexibility.

Earlier in September, I joined the inaugural Africa Climate Summit (ACS) 2023 in Kenya, which focused on ecological adaptation and resilience, renewable energy, sustainable development, and financing for climate action. Conferences like COP and ACS provide an important floor upon which to bring together a variety of perspectives, and these discursive spaces should reflect the experiential and epistemic diversity that we wish to cultivate on a planetary level. This means not only representing indigenous participants and vulnerable communities around the COP table, but building upon these alternative frameworks and worldviews, by way of reshaping the direction and accessibility of COP28 and climate policies.

Ecological and social change should be tackled hand in hand, and must address the intersection of the climate emergency with the legacy of colonial expansion – as this has maintained the dependency upon fossil fuels and exploitative capital growth across the globe. Therefore, the glaring dominance of northern worldviews, knowledges and scientific approaches over efforts to decarbonise and mitigate is an irony that remains prevalent and alarming.

I hope it will become increasingly clear that climate injustice manifests itself in many forms including racism, capitalism, colonialism, gender-based discrimination and violence, and displacement of indigenous populations. This impacts dynamics between urban and rural life, technology and population health, bringing a complex set of intersecting challenges and creating new landscapes of vulnerability. These need to be tackled through a whole-systems approach which I hope will be a key feature at COP28, complementing measures such as the loss and damage fund announced last year. This way, we can continue refining our work towards a new vision of achieving shared prosperity for both people and planet.

To read all the reflections from members of the Clean Growth Leadership Network (CGLN), click here.

Photo by Singkham

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