Reflections from COP28 and Looking Forward to 2024

by Martina Otto, Head of UNEP-convened CCAC Secretariat - 19 December, 2023
"Together, we will have a busy and exciting year ahead to spur SLCP action to put people and the planet on a safer pathway before 2030. A MUST DO, A CAN DO. And as we have proven to be a Coalition of the Working: We DO." - Martina Otto, Head of UNEP-convened CCAC Secretariat

After two intense weeks, COP28 delivered the Dubai Consensus that, for the first time, sends a signal that the world is ready to transition away from fossil fuels. COP28 President Al Jaber highlighted: “We should raise ambition and keep 1.5 as our north star so no-one loses sight”. And the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres defined very clearly that “to truly cap heating at 1.5 degrees, we must phase out fossil fuels. It's time to protect our planet and future generations. It's as simple and as urgent as that”. 


As stated in the IEA/CCAC/UNEP report, ‘The imperative of cutting methane from fossil fuels’ decarbonisation of our energy systems must go hand-in-hand with decisive, far-reaching efforts to cut methane emissions from fossil fuel production and use to limit global warming to 1.5 °C. 

In that respect, the first-ever prioritization of non-CO2 emissions, COP28 marks a turning point. The new level of attention from Parties given to the non-CO2 agenda reflects the rising acknowledgement of their vital role in mitigating climate impacts, their ability to curb warming in the near-term and thereby bend the curve earlier than with CO2 action alone. Also, the Global Stocktake reflects the need for a dual strategy: Article 26, paragraph (a) Tripling renewable energy capacity globally and doubling the global average annual rate of energy efficiency improvements by 2030; and Article 26, paragraph (f) Accelerate and significantly decrease non-carbon-dioxide emissions globally, including in particular methane emissions by 2030. During the Super Pollutant Summit at COP28, 1 billion USD of catalytic funding was announced following a call for a Methane Finance Sprint. 

As we reflect on COP28 and the outcome of the first global stocktake, we can take a moment to acknowledge that our collective efforts have paved the way for bringing non-carbon dioxide (non-CO2) super pollutants to the top of the global climate agenda.

As partners to the CCAC, and since the first report by UNEP on short-lived climate pollutants, we have all been advocating for action on short-lived climate pollutants as a ‘MUST DO’. We have identified and promoted solutions, demonstrating that we ‘CAN DO’. We have continuously highlighted the multiple benefits of SLCP action for air quality, health, food security and overall sustainable development. We have known this truth for a decade, and now the world knows it too. 

The message has become louder, as is evidenced by the sheer number of events at COP28 directly addressing methane, black carbon, cooling and air quality, a challenge intimately intertwined with climate change. The message has become clearer, too: in a context where we have delayed decarbonisation of our economies and our societies, action to cut SLCPs offers a vital lifeline to slow the rate of warming while we make the transitions in our energy systems, the food system, the transport system, etc. Not as an alternative to the critical work of transitioning away from fossil fuels – which also can significantly reduce methane emissions – but as a necessary complement to keep our North Star in sight. Cutting 45% of Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (SLCPs) can get us as much as a 0.3-degree reduction. 

Throughout the COP28, we collected testimonials of action at home, and how teaming up in this Coalition has helped to advance, from sharing experience to matchmaking to the support provided to countries via the CCAC Trust Fund. Several countries are now demonstrating their willingness to act as regional leaders in converting ambition into action, others have become Champions for the Global Methane Pledge, and others lead sector action via our sector Hubs, or new initiatives and instruments such as the Technology and Economic Assessment Panel (TEAP). This makes the collective strength of this Coalition. 

The Climate and Clean Air Ministerial 2023 brought together over a hundred ministers, agency heads, and non-state partners, discussing finance for Short-lived Climate Pollutants (SLCPs) as a way to close a critical implementation gap, allowing to scale-up solutions. 

Ministers announced the pilot work of the CCAC-Technology and Economic Assessment Panel (TEAP), which will highlight context-specific, practical mitigation measures with the aim of closing the finance gap by amplifying the business potentials of emerging technologies and coordinating opportunities for investors and technologies to channel technological investments in priority areas as the growth of carbon markets will make investments in existing emissions mitigation technologies more and more enticing.

Noting the transformation of Glasgow’s ‘methane moment’ into a ‘methane movement’ where this powerful climate and air pollutant has taken centre-stage at COP28, delegates highlighted the integral role of CCAC in the conception of the Global Methane Pledge (GMP) and appreciated that CCAC Secretariat will now provide secretariat services for the GMP. Ministers recognised that there is increasing demand for support from countries as methane emissions will be made more visible with satellite technologies. 

In the area of fossil fuels, support for inventories and regulation has been at the fore; the support provided to Nigeria, Mexico and Colombia is a great example for that. In the Waste sector, the reductions can go hand in hand with greater resource valorisation and addressing pollution. While in the agriculture sector, measures that generate productivity gains and measures that have adaptation benefits have been highlighted alongside reductions in food loss and waste. The first time Emirates Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems, and Climate Action notes that foods and agriculture are fundamental and realizes the rights of smallholder farmers and food workers and calls on urgent adaptation and transformation. Over 150 Non-State Actors committed to food system transformation.    

Ministers welcomed the LOW-Methane Initiative, which will be supported by a coordination group housed within the CCAC Secretariat. The initiative will aim to deliver at least 1 million metric tons of annual waste sector methane reductions well before 2030, working with 40 subnational jurisdictions and their national government counterparts and unlocking over $10 billion in public and private investment. 

COP28 also saw a first with regard to the participation of Health ministers and a Declaration of Climate and Health. It was hence very timely that [MO1] we launched the Clean Air Flagship 2024-2026, which will give impetus to action on reduce air pollution at regional, national and sub-national levels, through an integrated approach that harnesses the tight interlinkages between both. In a similar way that the methane flagship prepared the ground for action when the Global Methane Pledge was created, the Clean Air Flagship will aggregate current air quality efforts and give direction to the near-term goals of improving air quality. 

Looking Forward to 2024

The coming year will be critical to integrate SLCPs into the next round of NDCs with a level of specificity that drives ambition and action. This is also an opportunity to unlock funding under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement. 

In light of available funding – with 1 percent of development funding going into air pollution action and less than 2 percent of climate funding going into methane action – working at the intersection of climate and clean air will provide us with an opportunity to channel more investments into integrated solutions that generate a double dividend.

Building on critical sectors stepping up, we have a unique chance to further break down silos. The national SLCP plans are one way to start this, the cost-of-inaction study that will be developed over the coming 1,5 years will give us the numbers and with-it additional reasons to do that. Multi-ministerial cooperation, efforts across levels of government, as well as the parallels of for example integrated inventories by countries and integrated inventories of companies, are all examples of this can further build the movement and increase speed and scale.     

In providing Secretariat functions to the Global Methane Pledge, the CCAC Secretariat will put into place tools to track progress, offer crucial support for NDC reviews and Biennial Transparency Report (BTR), further foster a support system for countries, and run a second round of our Methane Roadmaps Action Programme (M-RAP). 

Together, we will have a busy and exciting year ahead to spur SLCP action to put people and the planet on a safer pathway before 2030. A MUST DO, A CAN DO. And as we have proven to be a Coalition of the Working: We DO.


From Summit on Methane and Non-CO2 GHGs, Climate and Clean Air Ministerial 2023, Global Methane Pledge Ministerial 2023

The Super Pollutant Summit or ‘Summit on Methane and Non-CO2 Greenhouse Gases’ held in Dubai emphasized that swift action on non-CO2 greenhouse gases is crucial for achieving the 1.5-degree Celsius goal and reducing the risk of near-term tipping points, offering a three-in-one solution for climate, health, and food security objectives. It showcased an unprecedented collaboration between governments, philanthropies, and the private sector, announcing over $1 billion in new grant funding for methane reduction since COP27. It thereby addressed an imbalance of the relative attention given to non-CO2 greenhouse gases and their contribution of 30 percent to current warming (or almost half of net warming). 

It saw announcements regarding methane, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), and cooling exemplify a commitment to rapid and impactful measures. Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Angola, Kenya, and Romania joined the Global Methane Pledge.

The United States announced stringent standards to reduce methane emissions significantly, and Kazakhstan, Nigeria, and Brazil made noteworthy commitments under the Global Methane Pledge. The emphasis on reducing HFCs, with the United Arab Emirates ratifying the Kigali Amendment and the launch of the Global Cooling Pledge, underscores the Summit's comprehensive approach to combatting climate change across all sectors.

Leaders at the Summit urged Parties to the Paris Agreement to submit comprehensive 2035 nationally determined contributions covering all greenhouse gases. 

The Climate and Clean Air Ministerial 2023, saw over one hundred ministers and heads of agencies and non-state partners sharing groundbreaking initiatives and financial commitments to address short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs), with a focus on methane abatement. COP28 saw remarkable financial pledges to the methane agenda, facilitated through a Methane Finance Sprint with 1 billion USD mobilized to support methane abatement. Developing countries highlighted the catalytic role of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) in advancing the SLCP agenda, emphasizing the need for continued support. The CCAC launched the Clean Air Flagship 2024-2026 and announced initiatives addressing nitrous oxide and integrated agriculture and food systems. The role of CCAC in implementing the Kigali Amendment of the Montreal Protocol was also underscored. As the 'methane movement' gains momentum, the world is witnessing a shift from pledges to tangible actions, marking a decisive step towards a sustainable future.

At the COP28 Global Methane Pledge Ministerial, ministers welcomed transformative national actions and catalytic grant funding aimed at achieving a minimum 30% reduction in methane emissions by 2030. The Global Methane Pledge (GMP) partners announced remarkable milestones, including over $1 billion in new grant funding since COP27, game-changing national commitments from major methane emitters, and the introduction of groundbreaking data tools. As the 'methane movement' gains momentum, the Global Methane Pledge is steering the world towards rapid, impactful action to address climate change, health, food security, and energy security simultaneously. The COP28 also witnessed major strides in reducing methane emissions from the fossil energy, food and agriculture, and waste sectors, underscoring the urgent need for collaborative global efforts to combat climate change.

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