Can COP28 be considered a success?

The UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties 2023, commonly referred to as COP28, just wrapped up in Dubai, UAE. Director Gustaf Hugelius attended the conference, representing the Bolin Centre and the International Cryosphere Climate Initiative (ICCI), who hosted two Cryosphere Pavilions – one Exhibition Pavilion and a Side Event Pavilion, sponsored by the center.

Presenting on permafrost (Earth’s permanently frozen ground), Gustaf shared state-of-the art knowledge about the impacts of permafrost thaw on human communities in the Arctic, highlighting the main message from the new State of the Cryosphere Report from ICCI, namely that we cannot negotiate with the melting point of ice. See the presentation here.

Photo: Private
Director Gustaf Hugelius presenting at COP28. Photo: International Cryosphere Climate Initiative (ICCI). Photo: Private

The conference spanned from November 30th to December 12th with roughly 70 000 participants, making it the most well attended COP in history. But was it successful, and does participation equal action? Considering it being the first time in COP-history that the language around transitioning away from fossil fuels has been agreed upon, it should in fact be seen as a win. In addition, nations agreed to triple the deployment of renewable energy and double the rate of efficiency gains by the end of this decade. An agreement on funds for addressing losses and damages caused by the climate crisis was also brought about on the very first day of negotiations.

Photo: private
Bolin Centre Director Gustaf Hugelius at COP28 in Dubai, UAE. Photo: private

The chances for reaching the Paris Agreement goals have tangibly increased

However, the agreement is not legally binding and the text leaves us vulnerable to false solutions. It does not commit to a phase out of fossil fuels either, which is crucial in order to limit the rise in mean global temperature to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels.

In keeping our hopes and spirits up, we asked Gustaf what advice he would give to the ones who feel defeated after the conference was concluded. What positive outcomes should one focus on to keep the hope and motivation up?

I think one should look at it this way: the COP28 agreement does not guarantee us reaching the 1.5°C goal – not even a 2°C goal. But, if you compare the situation before the conference to the one after, the chances of reaching the goal have tangibly increased, Gustaf urges.

Hear more from Gustaf and his thoughts on this year’s climate conference in an interview with SVT Morgonstudion yesterday, December 13th (in Swedish).