Two weeks ago I wrote about my hopes for COP28. We needed a commitment to phase out fossil fuels, make significant progress with the Loss and Damage Fund, prioritise resilience building for climate vulnerable communities, and create a transition to green development pathways that is just and ambitious.
COP28 has seen some progress on these items. Like a cracked record, I say again: Thank you, but we should have done more.
$700m has been pledged for the Loss and Damage Fund, with further funding pledges for adaptation and resilience building. Both are a start, but the amounts are not nearly enough to support even the existing schemes in the pipeline to support the poorest and least resilient communities in the world who have pumped the least carbon into the atmosphere.
While it is very significant that the words ‘fossil fuels’ have made it into the final agreement, it remains disappointing that the parties have failed to agree the most important pledge – the need to completely phase out fossil fuels. The Alliance for Small Island States said: “the process has failed us”.
But when will the world wake up to the urgency?
The UK Government’s clear position of a phase out of fossil fuels means it can have global moral leadership in this area. Without a phase out of fossil fuels there is no pathway to net zero carbon. Those on the frontline of the climate crisis cannot wait yet another year.
I am inspired by how Jesus spoke of finding the fullness of life, how he reached out to the poorest around him, and how he noticed the beauty of nature. The Church of England has a clear role in continuing to be a place of thanksgiving for our life in Jesus, hope for the poor, and prophetic action to care for our planet.
I urge us all, and particularly world leaders, to remember that the pledges made at COP28 do not have to be the upper limits of our climate action. We can and must reach further. That goal must be a fossil fuel phase out and a re-centring of our priorities towards the care of creation and the poorest people with whom we share this one, beautiful planet.
The Rt Revd Graham Usher – Bishop of Norwich