On November 30, the 28th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change officially opened in Dubai. The event traditionally began with a High-Level Summit, where presidents and other world leaders made new (and not so new) commitments to combat the climate crisis. We have prepared for you an overview of the most important statements and new commitments.
As a first breakthrough, countries agreed to launch a Loss and Damage Fund to help countries affected by the climate crisis. While delegates applauded the decision and many commentators hailed the deal as a historic victory, others said the size of the commitments made so far was not a good enough start. So far, developed countries have pledged $260 million to the Fund.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres warned delegates that “we are experiencing a real-time climate collapse,” speaking at the launch of the World Meteorological Organization’s State of the Climate report, which says 2023 will be the hottest year on record.
Britain’s King Charles III addressed world leaders, stating that “The Earth does not belong to us. I pray with all my heart that COP28 will be another critical turning point towards transformational action at a time when, as scientists have long warned, we are seeing the reaching of alarming tipping points.”
In his COP28 speech, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak cited significant financial commitments to climate initiatives, including a historic pledge of £1.6 billion to the Green Climate Fund.
French President Emmanuel Macron has called on G7 countries at the UN climate talks to set an example to other countries and “commit to end coal” by 2030. Speaking at the COP28 conference in Dubai, Macron reiterated that investing in coal is “a real absurdity”.
The summit was also a platform for announcing new commitments from EECCA leaders. A record number of country presidents flew to the Conference this year. We listened to all their speeches and discussed them with our network members.
In his speech, President of Uzbekistan Shavkhat Mirziyoyev noted the growing threat of climate change, emphasizing its disproportionate impact on Central Asia, particularly the Aral Sea disaster. “In our region, the temperature rise is twice as high as the global average. In recent years, the number of extremely hot days has doubled, and a third of glaciers have completely melted,” he said. Drawing attention to alarming regional statistics, he emphasized the urgent need for transition to a green economy and carbon neutrality, demonstrating Uzbekistan’s efforts to double the share of alternative energy and cooperate with international partners to create 25 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity by 2030. The President called for global cooperation in finalizing climate change adaptation strategies, promoting equity in the low-carbon transition, and making the Aral Sea region an innovation hub, suggesting cooperation on climate technologies, scientific forums, and initiatives such as the 2024 Climate Migration Conference.
Natalia Shulepina (regalia):
“In Uzbekistan, we are seeing changes day by day. Climatic pressure of high temperatures is becoming more and more tangible. Problems with water supply to the population with clean drinking water are increasing. The state is attracting international loans. The President of Uzbekistan noted serious programs being implemented in the country. It is obvious that not only climate technologies are needed to solve the problems. There is a need for active involvement of young people to solve problems related to climate change. The Aral Sea issue raised by Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev is more than relevant today. Climate migration started from the Aral Sea region. Low water levels on the transboundary rivers Amu Darya and Syr Darya can increase migration many times over. This is a very serious risk for many thousands of Uzbeks. A conference on this topic will make it possible to clearly assess the situation. UN participation will attract the attention of the world community.”
Kazakhstan’s President Kasym-Jomart Tokayev emphasizing the significance of green technology, announced a new environmental code driving comprehensive green adaptation in various sectors, citing the extraordinary potential for wind, solar power, and green hydrogen. The President pledged Kazakhstan’s role as a major supplier of critical minerals in the global transition, actively supporting green initiatives such as plastic waste reduction, and declared the country’s decision to join the Global Methane Pledge. Additionally, he addressed the challenge of coal in the region, unveiling plans for the first-ever just energy transition partnership in Kazakhstan, calling for concrete support from international partners and increased climate finance commitment. “Even if we successfully limit global temperatures to 1.5 by 2050, Central Asian countries will still experience up to 2.5. Adaptation is inevitable and necessary, which is why we are calling for more funding to support an international fund to save the Aral Sea”
“Kazakhstan’s civil society supports our country’s commitment to low-carbon development. We expect faster and more decisive measures to move away from coal. At the same time, we urge the authorities of our country not to use nuclear technology for energy production, as the full cycle of nuclear energy from mining to decommissioning and waste storage brings many negative consequences for the environment. We urge the government of our country to develop the energy sector even more decisively and effectively by utilizing the potential of wind and solar energy that nature has given to our country.“
Armenia’s President Vahagn Khachatryan underscored the urgency of addressing climate change as a pressing global issue during the COP session, emphasizing the need for a holistic approach to foster greener, healthier, and more sustainable practices. Despite the historical adoption of the Paris Agreement in 2015, the President acknowledged the concerning deviation from climate pathways, attributing the challenge to fossil fuel-based economies. He stressed the imperative shift away from hydrocarbons and fossil fuel reliance to curb demand and supply, advocating for the acceleration of renewable energy sources through increased climate financing, including a loss and damage fund.
As a mountainous developing country, Armenia faces significant challenges, with World Bank projections indicating potential warming of up to 4.7°C by 2090s. The President outlined an ambitious goal of achieving 15% solar energy in total production by 2030, highlighting the nation’s belief in the long-term use of nuclear energy as a carbon-neutral source. Armenia expressed its readiness to contribute to global efforts in combating climate change.
“In his speech, the President of the Republic of Armenia, Vahagn Khachatryan, quite rightly stated that the cause of rampant warming is “…a fossil fuel-based economy. It is clear that we cannot continue on the path of hydrocarbon or energy extraction. It is imperative that we reduce the demand for fossil fuel supplies.” However, it is interesting to note that Armenia, by its contribution to fulfilling the provisions of the Paris Agreement (NDC), intends not to reduce but to significantly increase the demand and consumption of fossil fuel – natural gas and thereby increase greenhouse gas emissions in 2030 by almost 50% compared to current emissions”.
Tajikistan’s President Emomali Rahmon, noting that 93% of the country’s territory is mountainous, emphasized its vulnerability to climate change and frequent water-related disasters. The President spoke about the national strategy of adaptation to climate change and called on the international community to support financially and technologically to strengthen the country’s capacity. He also emphasized that Tajikistan is a leader in green energy production, producing 98% of its energy from hydroelectric power plants. The President expressed his intention to double the capacity to produce green energy, emphasizing the importance of developing a green economy and adopting a strategy for the period 2023-2037. Finally, he emphasized the negative impact of climate change on water resources and called on the international community to support water-related goals in the context of the Second UN Water Conference.
Olga Boiko, CAN EECCA Coordinator:
“Tajikistan does have a great potential for hydroelectric power plants, but at the same time, wind and solar take up less than 1% of the energy mix. Tajikistan was one of 118 countries to sign a declaration to triple RES and double energy efficiency measures by 2030. Energy efficiency is really a niche with a huge potential to save heat in cold weather and save resources. Equally important is the position of civil society, which directly faces the impact of the climate crisis. Civil society organizations working with communities should have enough resources and opportunities for their activities. This will not only help achieve climate goals faster, but also make them more sustainable, as opposed to a top-down approach.”
In his speech, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko emphasized the importance of combating climate change, noting that the country is fulfilling its obligations under the Paris Agreement and even exceeding the plan. “We provide invaluable “ecosystem” services to our continent, preserving a unique source of oxygen – natural marshes, forests, the lungs of Europe. We are developing green nuclear power, minimizing the risks of climate change. Paradoxically, but we get sanctions and restricted access to technology in response,” emphasized Lukashenko. In conclusion, the president called for action to preserve life on Earth, emphasizing that the green agenda is meaningless without respect for sovereignty and justice.
“Belarus is fulfilling its commitments and Belarus’ emissions are currently lower than our GHE, but the main reason is lower GDP growth, which is due to the political crisis, mass emigration and sanctions due to Russia’s support for the war against Ukraine. Thus, mass repression, mass emigration and participation in the war allowed Belarus to fulfill its GHG reduction commitments.”
Kyrgyz President Sadyr Zhaparov expressed serious concern about the sharp rise in temperatures in the country and in Central Asia as a whole, which has led to intensive glacier melting, deterioration of public health and negative impact on key sectors of the economy. Zhaparov emphasized the importance of global cooperation in addressing climate challenges, calling for support for Kyrgyzstan’s Sustainable Mountain Development Initiative. He also announced the country’s plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, inviting international investors to invest in renewable energy projects, emphasizing favorable conditions and investment attractiveness. “Kyrgyzstan plans to reduce emissions by 16% of the emissions level under the business-as-usual scenario by 2030, and by 44% with international support.” – he stated.
Azhar Baisalova is a project manager at NGO Movegreen:
“The President’s speech was good, prepared, it is important to note that we are all part of one country and everyone’s interests are important for its well-being. We as a civil sector only have a question for all green finance processes to be transparent, open. And we also have our own domestic country economic priorities, they should not contradict this statement. We can also say that the position is ambitious, in particular on promises, and if in fact everything needs to be fulfilled, then we also need to increase the capacity of civil servants, because without human resources we cannot achieve this. Separately, I would like to say that nothing was said about a strong civil society. The President mentioned business, investment, it is all necessary, but the needs and opinions of the civil sector must also be taken into account and taken into account.“
The Prime Minister of Georgia Irakli Garibashvili emphasized the importance of maintaining major international efforts, called for halving global emissions by 2030, consistent contributions to the Loss and Damage Fund, and the adoption of a framework for achieving the global climate adaptation goal. The Prime Minister reaffirmed Georgia’s commitment to addressing the climate crisis by allocating more than 500 million dollars from the state budget for climate change mitigation and adaptation measures, integrating low-carbon measures into national infrastructure development, and supporting Europe’s goal of zero emissions by 2050. “In addition, I am pleased to note that up to 85% of electricity in Georgia comes from renewable sources. However, further increasing the share of renewable energy remains a strategic priority for us and I am pleased to announce that Georgia is joining the COP28 Global Pledge on Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency.“
Nugzar Kokhreidze – Chairman of the CAN EECCA Board, Chairman of the Scientific and Intellectual Club “Dialogue of Generations”
“The speech of the Prime Minister of Georgia did not differ much from his previous speeches. It is clear that Georgia, as one of the vulnerable countries with regard to climate change, needs necessary financial support. However, we should note the document that was published by the European Commission on the assessment of the 12 EU candidate countries. Unfortunately, this document states that Georgia is at the initial levels of preparation in such areas as environment and climate change. Other areas such as transportation and energy are also not highly rated. It is necessary to pay more attention to the homework, which is under the responsibility of the government and accelerate the reform process to realize a more effective green policy in the country. This is just absolutely possible by internal efforts of the government.“