Woefully off-track

Andy Le Gresley (37061920)

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By Russell Waite, of Affinity Private Wealth

EARLIER this year, the UN published a review of progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in line with its 2030 agenda.

“We’re at the halfway point, we’re halfway there but we’re not halfway done,” was the assessment presented by Sanda Ojiambo, assistant secretary-general and chief executive of the UN Global Compact. Her colleague António Guterres, the Secretary General of the UN, went one step further in his messaging, proclaiming “the world is woefully off-track”.

As world leaders and scientists make their final preparations for the COP28 summit in the United Arab Emirates, the latest data on the state of the global climate serve as a reminder that this COP needs to be another urgent call to action. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has recorded the warmest ever September globally, based on its extensive history of compiling data.

Its chief scientist went on to say: “September was far and away the most atypically warm month of any in NOAA’s 174 years of climate record-keeping. To put it another way, September 2023 was warmer than the average July from 2001-2010.”

The organisation has declared the planet’s surface temperature throughout 2023 is the highest it has ever recorded and there is now a 99% probability it will end as the warmest year since 1850.

nCan COP28 make a difference?

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is charged with reducing global climate emissions. The UNFCCC convenes each COP, and has a mandate to negotiate collective action to reduce global emissions. It also tracks how ambitious countries are in the context of their Nationally Determined Commitments to do so.

COP28 will include the first-ever global stocktake, introducing a process for countries and stakeholders to see where they are collectively making progress towards meeting the goals of the Paris Climate Change Agreement – and where they are not.

The window for meaningful change is closing and governments will make decisions based on this stocktake, which will be leveraged to accelerate ambition in their next round of climate action plans due in 2025.

In essence, this is attempting to be one huge nudge – an intervention that maintains freedom of choice but steers people in a particular direction. We should note a tax is not a nudge, a subsidy is not a nudge, a mandate is not a nudge and a ban is not a nudge.

A warning is a nudge, and we are about to be warned.

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