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What is COP28? Why is it important for the UAE?

What is COP28 - Why is it important for the UAE

Climate Change is a drastic issue on our planet and needs collective efforts and collaborations from all the countries in the world to battle its effects. The world’s developing countries in the global South like Africa get affected by the climate crisis the most, they have to face unprecedented fires, flash floods, droughts, and storms whilst most of the Global warming is caused by the Richest and developed countries in the Global North such as UK, USA, and Canada. This issue requires a Formal Framework that will bind countries to provide assistance to Southern countries to tackle the effects of the climate crisis. COP is one of the largest conventional conferences held each for the purpose of meeting climate needs. This article will walk you through the COP process, its purpose, its importance for the UAE, and everything else you need to know about the mega event.

What is COP28?

COP stands for “Conference of the Parties”, it is a global conference held by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). All 198 parties (197 nations and the European Union) come together in this conference to discuss ways to mitigate the climate effects on the planet.

The first COP was inaugurated in March 1995 in Berlin, Germany. The present-day headquarters of the COP secretariat are in Bonn.

COP28 is the 28th session of this conference which was held in the UAE from 30 November to 12 December at the Expo City Dubai; with the UAE being the host of this conference.

Why is COP28 Important?

COP28 holds a significant deal for the UAE and all other countries alike. UAE has played its role remarkably since its entrance in 1971, it has developed many practical solutions to manage the energy crisis in the UAE. The conference serves as a platform for nations to negotiate and implement policies, share advancements in technology, and collectively work towards achieving the objectives set out in international climate agreements.

How does the COP Presidency work?

COP meetings are held every year to judge the progress based on the previous year’s framework and to make any necessary amendments. However, the parties can opt not to hold the meeting in a certain year if they want.
The Presidency which is a consensus builder is handed down each year to one of the 5 recognized UN regions- Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe (Central, Eastern, Western), and others. This enables different nations and communities around the world to showcase their passion and commitment to amending the climate crisis.

Action Agenda of COP28

COP28 had set a distinctive agenda to measure its progress. The COP28 theme is based on one Pivotal Guiding Principle which is keeping the 1.5C in reach. This means that it is crucial to limit the global temperature to 1.5C. However, dire measures must be taken to achieve and maintain this target as according to many climate activists and scientists, the global temperature can reach up to a warming level of 2.7C by 2100.

Key Objectives

To achieve the 1.5C goal, the presidency has laid out four exclusive objectives to work on. These objectives are:

  • Fast-tracking a just and orderly transition
  • Fixing Climate Finance
  • Focusing on nature, lives, and livelihood
  • Fostering Inclusivity for all

The Paris Agreement

The Paris Agreement was made in 2015 and adopted in 2021, according to which developed countries were bound to review their fossil fuel (oil, gas, energy) consumption every five years and reduce it and provide funds and finances to developing countries which are taking the major blow of the consequences of rich nations. The finances provided to developing nations will be used to reduce the disastrous impact of the climate crisis, harboring advanced technologies in those countries so they can keep up with the ever-changing requirements of the climate. The gist of the Agreement was to maintain the temperature at 1.5C above pre-industrial levels by 2100. However, the finances were not provided to developing countries and even if they were, they all succumbed to never-ending debts on poor nations.

The Global Stocktake (GST)

The Global Stocktake is a systematic process that was included in The Paris Agreement section 14. The GST enables the nations and stakeholders of the climate crisis to measure their performance based on objective means. In COP28, the GST was analyzed to assess whether the deliverables of The Paris Agreement have been met or not. To the sheer disappointment and distress, not much improvement had been made according to the Paris Agreement. The governments at COP28 decided to implement the Paris Agreement firmly and made further action plans that will be implemented starting in 2025.

Loss and Damage

In October 2023, the COP meeting decided to initiate a fund named Loss and Damage Fund. The Fund was meant to compensate the Global South communities for the climate impacts.

In 2010, the Global North Countries agreed to pay $100b annually to Global South countries by 2020. However, the target has not been achieved yet. The rich countries have claimed to pay the finances in the form of interest loans. This has resulted in even more poverty in those countries. In COP28, the need arose to create a Fund similar to Loss and Damage that is not interest-based and is irrespective of the interference of the IMF and World Bank otherwise, the debt payments in those countries will exceed their expense of healthcare and education.

Fossil Fuel Phase-Out

In COP28, the stress was on fossil fuel phase-out. The agreement insisted on doubling the energy efficiency and tripling the renewable energy capacity using wind and solar power by 2030.

Currently, the fossil fuel giants like the UK are expanding their fossil fuel reliance while continuously ignoring its environmental impacts. The UK must be discouraged from its fossil fuel dependency as it is the second largest oil producer in Europe. In COP28, it was agreed upon that the countries must find renewable sources of energy to mitigate the CO2 emissions from Fossil Fuels.

HVAC Systems and Global Warming

Despite the efforts being made to reduce the effects of cooling agents on the environment, a lot is yet to be done. Cooling emissions refer to those emissions generated by Air Conditioners and Refrigerators.

To battle the climate crisis, this year at COP28, many countries came forward to work by a pledge according to which the countries will work to reduce their cooling emissions by 68% by 2050.

Cooling agents such as refrigerants generally called coolants are one of the major sources of Global Warming of the planet. Initially, CFCs were used as refrigerants but they were later banned under the 1987 Montreal Protocol due to their ozone-destructive nature. Now, most of the refrigerants used in domestic and commercial systems are HFCs and HCFCs. Even though HFC and HCFC are ozone-positive, they still pose a threat to the environment because they are also greenhouse gasses.

As Global Warming is rising, the need for space cooling is also increasing. According to the IEA (International Energy Agency), the energy consumption for space cooling has increased significantly since 1990, more than 5% alone in a single year after 2021. All of this consumption is heavily relied on fossil fuels like coal and gas which are more than 75% responsible for the whole planet’s global warming rate.

Certain solutions can be adopted to get out of the vicious fueling cycle of the climate crisis.

  • The Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol which was signed by more than 150 countries in 2016 can significantly reduce the HFC consumption up to 80% by 2047. Acting ferociously by the act can avoid more than 0.4 degrees Celsius of Global Warming by 2100.
  • More natural refrigerants must be used as cooling agents to reduce the carbon footprint on the planet. Use of natural refrigerants such as Ammonia, CO2, and Hydrocarbons must be encouraged.
  • Proper Disposal of refrigerants after their use must be ensured as this step alone could slash 100 billion gigatons of global CO2 emissions between 2020 and 2050 according to BBC.
  • Finally, cool materials and more insulants should be used during the construction of the buildings. This could reduce the need to install heat-emitting cooling projects hence reducing the carbon footprint.

COP28 represents a critical moment in the global effort to combat climate change, and the UAE’s active participation is crucial for shaping the future of sustainable development. By addressing its unique challenges, showcasing its achievements, and contributing to international efforts, the UAE can play a pivotal role in advancing the goals of COP28 and fostering a more sustainable and resilient world.

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