The World Meteorological Organization declared 2023 the hottest year since records began. Against this backdrop, COP28 did not deliver on the promise of unambiguous climate leadership that many had hoped for, but it did provide some meaningful moments that suggest a new era of climate action is dawning.
One theme emerged consistently throughout the proceedings of COP28: measurements matter — and what we do not measure, we cannot manage. From the Global Stocktake meant to measure and track humanity’s progress toward keeping our planet’s temperature within the limits set in the Paris Agreement, to the Dairy Methane Action Alliance aimed at quantifying and reducing methane from dairy production, COP28 showed that industry leaders are stepping up to take effective action grounded in science and transparency.
And while COP28 delegates did not approve draft language proposing an “orderly and just phase-out of fossil fuels,” the latest agreement, published on December 13th, does state that nations should “[transition] away from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly and equitable manner.” Though this agreement has garnered criticism for, on the one hand, diminishing the need for swifter action to meet the global climate crisis, it leaves space for innovation, collaboration, and most importantly, evolution of the way we live and do business on our planet.
Global Stocktake – Meeting the Paris Agreement Goals
COP28 also revealed that the ways progress is understood and measured are changing significantly. Specifically, the conference amplified the resounding call to improve methods of measuring, tracking, and reporting progress to stay within the temperature threshold goals of the Paris Agreement. A report entitled “Technical dialogue of the first global stocktake” strives to account for humanity’s progress to date. This report points out that, through 2025 (pg. 41), countries will be identifying major challenges and barriers to meet the Paris goals, taking specific steps to address them, finding new ways to bridge gaps, and increasing capacity to mobilize climate action.
SCS found the report’s “Key Findings” 10 and 13 particularly interesting. Key Finding 10 notes that while there is “increasing ambition” for international climate action, most of this action is “fragmented, incremental, sector-specific, and unequally distributed across regions.” And as of August 2021, only “around 25% of countries had a formal monitoring and evaluation system” to track their progress towards emissions reductions, climate adaptation, action, and mitigation. Now is the time for businesses, industry, and governments to show their work — how they are actively supporting the Paris Agreement.
The Stocktake also highlights the need for governments to “rapidly upscale” their “support for adaptation plans and funding mechanisms that avert, minimize, and address loss and damage,” and states that these efforts must be “made consistent with climate-resilient development to meet urgent and increasing needs.”
Food Systems Transformation Is Essential
The COP28 Presidency placed food systems transformation on the global climate agenda center stage, with more than 130 world leaders endorsing the Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems, and Climate Action.
In support of this ambitious Declaration, several leading international brands, joined by Environmental Defense Fund, announced the newly formed Dairy Methane Action Alliance. This global initiative is designed to “accelerate action and accountability on methane across the dairy sector” and “to catalyze accountability, transparency, and ambitious climate action within the food industry.” The Alliance focuses on the reduction of methane, a greenhouse gas that is nearly 150-times more potent than carbon dioxide during its first year of emission, and about 84-times more potent when considered over a 20-year period. Dairies in particular offer great potential opportunities to measure, report, manage, and reduce methane emissions. The Dairy Methane Action Alliance announced an agreement to track and report their methane emissions and draft methane action plans by the end of 2024.
Putting the Pieces Together
Given these developments at COP28, SCS is well poised to support and reinforce our clients’ climate actions and commitments, based on:
- decades of experience helping businesses, government agencies, industries, and non-profit organizations measure, verify and implement their greenhouse gas emissions reduction strategies and related climate mitigation and resilience activities;
- In-depth knowledge of the sustainability and life-cycle issues present across a wide cross-section of industry sectors, including food and agriculture, natural resources, consumer products, green building, energy, and much more.
In this pivotal moment of global transformation, COP28 is another reminder of the importance of innovative partnerships among companies, governments, industries, and stakeholders to find solutions that work. With demonstrated and comprehensive expertise across all elements of greenhouse gas emissions measurement, verification, reporting, reduction, and mitigation strategies, and an understanding of the regulations, reporting frameworks, and the climate science itself, SCS is prepared to support companies in their efforts to work toward a resilient, responsible future with effective climate initiatives.