Planet Tracker’s takeaways for Financial Institutions from the Climate COP in Dubai
Dubai hosted the 28th Conference of the Parties to the Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP28). This was the best attended COP to date, with estimates of 80,000 plus attendees, including many oil & gas representatives apparently outnumbering national delegations.i, ii In this paper, we share Planet Tracker’s insights and identify what financial institutions should take away from this latest climate summit. For Carbon Tracker’s assessment of COP28 please see ‘COP28: Progress but falls short of key “phase out” language’.
1. Nature is part of climate
Planet Tracker was left in little doubt that participants, state and non-state, recognise the considerable overlap between climate and nature. The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) has previously stated that ‘nature-based solutions with safeguards are estimated to provide 37 per cent of climate change mitigation until 2030 needed to meet the goal of keeping climate warming below 2°C, with likely co-benefits for biodiversity’.iii A joint statement between the UAE, acting as the COP28 Presidency, and China, as the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) COP15 Presidency, signalled a new commitment for countries to collaborate and implement their nature and climate strategies.iv This Joint Declaration encompasses fostering stronger synergies between climate and biodiversity strategies, in view of the new upcoming next round of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), updated National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) and forthcoming revised National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs), as well as scaling of finance and investments for climate and nature. Furthermore, we note that nature-positive growth is identified as one of the ways for pursuing the goals of the Paris Agreement.v
2. The food theme
Food and agriculture appeared as important themes at COP28. The COP hosted the first ever Food Day and three food pavilions. Major food-related announcements included:
- 152 Heads of State, at the time of writing, signed the Emirates Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems and Climate Actionvi and more than 200 non-state actors signed the Call to Action for Transforming Food Systems for People, Nature and Climatevii (see our blog The UN Discusses Food Systems: Key Takeaways).
- FAO launched the Global Roadmap: Achieving SDG2 without breaching the 1.5oC threshold.viii This is the first of three reports aiming to accelerate climate actions to transform agrifood systems and help achieve food security and nutrition both today and tomorrow.
Food made the final text of the Global Stocktake agreed by all the parties and was referenced in the preamble, but more importantly in paragraph 63b, it called for further ambition to ensure “climate-resilient food and agricultural production and supply and distribution of food as well as increasing sustainable and regenerative production and equitable access to adequate food and nutrition for all”.ix It looks inevitable that food systems will become an increasingly important topic for financial markets.x
3. Agri-methane on the menu
Agri-methane is now firmly on the climate agenda, an important shift given that agriculture contributes more to methane emissions than the energy sector.xi Livestock accounts for about 30% of global anthropogenic methane emissions, so it was encouraging to see the announcement that six leading global dairy companies have formed the Dairy Methane Action Alliance, committing to disclose their methane emissions by mid-2024 and develop action plans by the end of the same year. The alliance includes Danone, Bel Group, General Mills, Lactalis USA, Kraft Heinz, and Nestlé, which together represent more than $200 billion in revenue. However, the Alliance does not yet require specific reduction targets.xii
In addition to this, the topic of shifting to sustainable diets (and away from industrial animal protein) was noted in the COP28 UAE Climate and Health Declaration which was signed by over 120 countries and included ‘shifts to sustainable diets’ as one of its priority areas.xiii
4. Ocean Breakthrough
As oceans capture about 25% of carbon dioxide emissions, it is reassuring to see that in the Global Stocktake document ocean-based adaptation and mitigation measures are promoted as necessary actions to tackle the negative effects of climate change.xiv Furthermore, 21 new countries committed to develop Sustainable Ocean Plans, to bring half of the world’s oceans under sustainable management by 2030. In addition, new countries endorsed a Mangrove Breakthrough, to secure 15 million hectares globally by 2030.xv Planet Tracker was proud to be one of the signatories of the COP28 Dubai Ocean Declaration, which called for enhanced protection of the ocean, which would lead to a better understanding and more fully mitigate the risks posed by climate change.xvi
5. Bioeconomy disruption?
The term ‘bioeconomy’xvii was mentioned with increased regularity on a range of presentations and panels that Planet Tracker attended. If we are facing a world economy that will see a decrease in fossil fuel consumption, then it is logical that a move to developing products from renewable biological sources and harnessing bioscience as a major driver of technological change can be expected – i.e. a regenerative economy powered by nature.xviii Should this happen, disruption in the real economy and financial markets will be dramatic.
6. What about plastics?
We noticed that throughout the conference the theme of plastics was not high on the agenda, restricted to a few side events, such as one organized by the Government of Rwanda, a co-sponsor which paved the way for an international legally binding agreement on marine litter and plastic pollution. It is reasonable for the COP Presidency to argue that plastic pollution issues are being addressed by UNEP in the Global Treaty on Plastic Pollution discussions.xix Alternatively, the oil & gas lobby, which was fighting to keep fossil fuels out of the Global Stocktake agreement, had no desire to open up another front.
UNFCCC COP29 will be hosted by Azerbaijan in Baku in November 2024 and UNFCCC COP30 in Brazil in 2025. Colombia has offered to host the Biodiversity COP, UN CBD COP16, in October 2024.
i Financial Times, https://www.ft.com/content/2e22a715-9fe3-4814-8946-4158c3d6a6fd
ii The COP28 Corporate Climate Advocacy Landscape, https://influencemap.org/briefing/The-COP28-Corporate-Climate-Advocacy-Landscape-26130
iii IPBES, The Global Assessment Report On Biodiversity And Ecosystem Services, 2019, https://files.ipbes.net/ipbes-web-prod-public-files/inline/files/ipbes_global_assessment_report_summary_for_policymakers.pdf
iv COP28 Joint Statement on Climate, Nature and People, https://www.cop28.com/en/joint-statement-on-climate-nature
v UAE Leaders’ Declaration on A Global Climate Finance Framework, https://www.cop28.com/en/climate_finance_framework
vii The Call to Action for Transforming Food Systems for People, Nature and Climate, https://climatechampions.unfccc.int/over-150-nsas-sign-cta-calling-for-transformation-of-food-systems-for-people-nature-and-climate/
ix First global stocktake, https://unfccc.int/sites/default/files/resource/cma2023_L17_adv.pdf
x Elwin P., Amadi E., Mitchell E., Hunter P., Financial Markets Roadmap for Transforming the Global Food System, Planet Tracker (2023), https://planet-tracker.org/financial-markets-roadmap-for-transforming-the-global-food-system/
xi Planet Tracker & Changing Markets Foundation, January 2023, Hot Money, https://planet-tracker.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/Hot-Money.pdf
xiii COP28 UAE Declaration on Climate and Health, https://www.cop28.com/en/cop28-uae-declaration-on-climate-and-health
xiv First global stocktake, https://unfccc.int/sites/default/files/resource/cma2023_L17_adv.pdf
xv United For Nature: COP28 Mobilizes Action To Protect And Restore Forests, Mangroves, Land And Ocean, https://www.cop28.com/en/news/2023/12/United-for-Nature-COP28-mobilizes-action-to-protect
xvi COP28 Dubai Ocean Declaration, https://oceanpavilion-cop.org/dubai-ocean-declaration/#signatories
xviiiCOP28 and the re-Nature Hub – putting nature at the heart of climate action (Lombard Odier) 4 December 2023