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Navigating Challenges and Fostering Hope for Global Climate Action

The 28th edition of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) annual global conference of parties, COP28, held in the United Arab Emirates, brought together diverse stakeholders with the common goal of addressing the escalating climate crisis. Emily Nalwamba, founder of the Lighthouse Foundation, shares her insights into the summit’s challenges and hopes for meaningful progress.

COP28 faced initial controversies, with questions surrounding the credibility of COP28 President Dr. Sultan Al Jaber and the delegation of climate finance responsibilities to the World Bank. Ms. Nalwamba acknowledges the mixed sentiments, especially among African climate justice organizations, regarding the latter decision.

Despite these challenges, she has highlighted the significant role played by African political leaders, including Zambia’s Minister of Green Economy and Environment, Hon Collins Nzovu, in pivotal climate negotiations. Under Zambia’s leadership, the African Group of Negotiators on Climate Change (AGN) carried Africa’s hopes in these discussions.

The summit, themed “Global Stocktake (GTS),” marked the first global stocktake since the establishment of the Paris Agreement. Alarming reports from authoritative organizations emphasized the urgent need to limit global warming to well below 2°C. However, 2023 recorded one of the hottest years on record, surpassing 1.8°C in September.

Scientific reports, including the UN Global Emissions Gap Report 2023, emphasized the necessity to cut global greenhouse gas emissions by at least 45% before 2030. 

Ms. Nalwamba expressed concern over some individuals profiting from climate funds meant to alleviate the impacts of climate change, casting doubt on genuine climate action.

The operationalization of the Loss and Damage fund marked a significant achievement for Zambia and Africa. However, the unlocked funds fell short of the required amount, highlighting the inadequacy of financial support for the irreversible impacts faced by the continent.

COP28 discussions revolved around the outcomes of the Global Stocktake (GST), with developing nations seeking clear language on fossil fuel phase-out and climate finance promises. However, some countries inserted loopholes, prioritizing short-term profits over long-term environmental sustainability.

The GST synthesis report emphasized the need for urgent action to meet the 1.5°C target. Ms. Nalwamba noted disappointment among developing nations in the leadership failures of developed countries and their insufficient mitigation efforts. Responsibility for the climate crisis should rest with historical major emitters.

As COP28 concluded, the Lighthouse Foundation founder celebrates achievements such as empowering youth in climate action and operationalizing the Loss and Damage Fund. 

However, challenges like inadequate climate finance and uncertainties on the Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA) and mitigation outcomes underscore the ongoing journey towards the Paris Agreement’s goals. 

Ms. Nalwamba calls for global solidarity and strengthened commitments to avert the climate crisis and build a sustainable future.

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