Why the success of COP doesn’t lie with politicians alone, we all have a role to play

COP (Conference of the Parties) is an annual gathering where countries worldwide meet to discuss climate change and commit to actions that address this global challenge. These meetings play a pivotal role in shaping international climate policy and actions. However, as this year’s conference approaches, we need to be aware that placing all our hopes solely on COP28, may not be enough to combat the enormity of the climate crisis we face today, individuals and companies have a role to play too. 

What we can expect at COP28 

COP28 is being held in the UAE on 30th November – 12th December, with the focus primarily centred on revising, building upon and strengthening the commitments made in previous agreements, specifically the targets set in the Paris Agreement (to limit global warming to 1.5°C by the end of this century).  

The key themes that will be discussed are: 

  • The Global Stocktake. The first inventory of everything related to climate action. Where we are making progress and where we aren’t. An important issue to watch is how leaders from countries, companies, cities and financial institutions respond to the outcome. 
  • Concerns over leadership. The UN conference president for COP28 Sultan Al Jaber, is also chief executive of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company. This has raised concerns about a potential conflict of interest, with others claiming he is ideally placed to speak for both renewables and fossil fuels. There are also concerns over a lack of leadership from politicians across the globe. 
  • Renewable energy / fossil fuels. A focus on what to do about fossils fuels, whether it is a phase down or phase out approach and how quickly will this happen. Meanwhile, subsidies for fossil fuels rose to a record $7 trillion in 2022. Meanwhile, there is also a push to treble renewables by 2030. 
  • Food and land use. The rising population and demand for food, feed, fibre and fuel are increasing competition for land, with food systems contributing one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions. While we can’t phase out food in the same way we can fossil fuels, there will be a focus on transforming food systems and restoring nature. 
  • Finance. A loss and damage fund was agreed at COP27 and will continue to be discussed this year. This means that wealthy nations (who have emitted the majority of the greenhouse gases driving the climate crisis) should help pay for losses that developing countries incur due to the impacts of climate change — things like loss of significant portions of land to sea level rise, or loss of infrastructure to extreme weather events. 

Why COP is essential 

COP conferences serve as a platform for countries to collaborate, negotiate, and set goals for mitigating climate change. They enable the sharing of ideas, technologies, and best practices to combat the crisis collectively. The agreements made at these meetings are crucial for setting the tone for global action. But to halve emissions this decade, policy, companies and people are all needed.  

What companies can do 

Businesses have a significant role in the fight against climate change. They can reduce their carbon footprint by adopting sustainable practices, investing in renewable energy, minimising waste, and transitioning towards greener technologies. Companies can advocate for stronger environmental policies and support initiatives that promote sustainability. Additionally, companies are seeing employee, supplier and other stakeholder engagement as a crucial part of their sustainability strategy. 

As sustainability action is increasingly moving up the agenda in many businesses, our Giki Zero Pro offering helps businesses educate and engage their employees as part of a wider sustainability strategy, becoming an essential element of winning new business, as well as fulfilling Net Zero commitments.  

The role of individuals 

Individual actions also contribute significantly to addressing climate change. Changes in daily routines, such as reducing energy consumption, using public transport, eating a more plant-based diet, and supporting eco-friendly products, collectively make a substantial impact. Moreover, raising awareness, advocating for change, and participating in local initiatives are crucial contributions from individuals.  

COP28, like its predecessors, is undoubtedly crucial in setting global targets and guidelines to address climate change, and keep track of progress. However, real progress needs collective efforts. While international agreements are vital, their success ultimately depends on the actions taken at national, local, and individual levels. We cannot solely rely on one conference, one entity or one country to solve this complex problem. We need the ongoing dedication and commitment of everyone involved and understanding that every action matters.  

‘An individual taking a step is progress but a community taking steps together is real change‘ – James Hand, Co-founder of Giki 

If you want to find out more about how Giki can help your company educate and engage your employees, then please get in touch.  

COP Jargon buster 

NDCs (Nationally Determined Contribution) – A climate action plan where countries set targets, how they’re going to achieve it and track it. Countries are required to update it every 5 years.   

The Global Stocktake – An inventory of everything related to climate action. Where we are making progress and where we aren’t. It takes place every five years, COP28 is the first time it is happening. 

SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) – The UN’s 17 goals aim to transform our world. They are a call to action to end poverty and inequality, protect the planet, and ensure that all people globally enjoy health, justice and prosperity.  

Net Zero – Net-zero emissions, or “net zero,” will be achieved when all emissions released by human activities are counterbalanced by removing carbon from the atmosphere. 

Mitigation – This refers to efforts to reduce emissions and enhance sinks (e.g. increasing the area of forests). 

Adaptation – A general term used to cover the planning and measures needed to cope with the current and future climate change impacts.