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Poorer nations showing the strongest ambition at COP28 - unlike the UK

The UK is contributing nowhere near enough to climate mitigation, adaptation reconstruction, both nationally and internationally, and is being left behind by poorer nations when it comes to investing in mass transit systems, reports Martina Juvara

05 December 2023
Countries like Indonesia and Brazil are leading the way in developing mass transit systems and electrifying fleets
Countries like Indonesia and Brazil are leading the way in developing mass transit systems and electrifying fleets

Day 5 at COP28 – it’s 30 degrees in Dubai and there are lots of people. The focus of today’s summit is Nature and Finance, although, in truth, funding is a key topic of discussion every day.

Here are some of the key quotes from the day:

“1.5 Degrees is not a target: it is a limit. An existential limit.”

H E Razan Al Mubarak, UN Climate Champion, President of IUCN

“The planet is no longer a natural planet. It is now ruled by human interference.”

Jim Skea, IPCC Chair

“Fresh water and large forests are the world’s global commons and must be protected by all.”

Johan Rockstrom, Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research

“Nature is a technology for implementation.”

Jose Pugas, JGP Asset Management, Brazil

 “What we see is organised outrage: people demanding real change.”

Sharon Dijksma, Mayor of Utrecht and Cities Advisor to the UN Secretary General

Looking at finance from a British perspective, nations like ours contribute really small amounts to climate mitigation, adaptation and reconstruction after climate events. Both nationally and internationally, ours is a meagre response to ‘Loss and Damage’, that being direct damage and economic and livelihood losses. 

Our government sees contributions as emergency funding in the UK or as international aid abroad. Our approach in both cases is flawed because they are optional when they should be structural and embedded in radical and systemic change. In our economy, every business, activity or household needs to engage in achieving net zero, and enabling public funding should be seen as enlightened investment in the future to prepare the country, as well as helping prevent global instability, emergency and forced migration.

Investment in transport, for instance, has been massive in countries like Brazil and Indonesia. Their banks and finance ministers explained how they used public and private funds to boost mass transit provision, electrify all public fleets, promote private EVs and retrain drivers and mechanics. And they are doing this at speed and at scale, systematically and comprehensively making sure that all citizens understand the reasons for change.

The other big topic of the day was Nature and Nature Based Solutions, or NBS. The importance of regaining the planet for nature was stated very plainly by Zac Goldsmith, Minister of State for Asia, Energy, Climate and Environment , who is heavily involved in the Nature and Water international agenda. He highlighted how we have passed a tipping point and need to rapidly reverse and become Nature Positive.

The surprising thing for me was the scale we were talking about: biodiversity investment at the scale of countries, not the 10% in new development recently introduced by the UK Government.

NBS is not intended as the naturalisation of a channelled watercourse or the sensitive design of a balancing pond. NBS means hundreds of hectares of new forests, regeneration of peatland on a regional scale and coastline measures for entire regions. Not necessary? That’s not I heard today. And it not’s what the Government’s advisor for the natural environment Natural England thinks.

Of course, this means finding new models of stewardships, investing in skills and increasing awareness. We are running against time, strategically and comprehensively.

Today was a day of humility: of understanding that what we are doing is nowhere near enough. And it is very clear that it is the poorer countries that are showing the strongest ambition.

Martina Juvara is Director - Master Planning at Urban Silence

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