By Mays Ibrahim Mustafa – Nov 26,2023

AMMAN — The 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference, more commonly referred to as COP28, is set to commence this Thursday in Dubai, with the participation of delegates from the 197 countries that have ratified the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), including Jordan. 

Ahead of this climate summit, which continues until December 12, The Jordan Times spoke with well-informed local environmentalists on its agenda items and Jordan’s key priorities. 

Manager of Climate Change Studies Division at the Royal Scientific Society Ruba Ajjour discussed some of the main climate challenges facing Jordan, highlighting the urgent need for “adaptation” measures. 

She noted that Jordan’s Fourth National Communication on Climate Change features comprehensive vulnerability assessments for various sectors, showing that climate-related hazards are impacting the Kingdom. These include extreme temperatures, decreasing rainfall amounts and dust storms, among others, which are increasing in both frequency and intensity. 

The report particularly focuses on challenges associated with the water sector, which have cross-cutting impacts on other sectors such as agriculture and health, according to Ajjour. 

First Global Stocktake 

In a letter to the parties dated July 2023, the Incoming COP28 Presidency announced that the conference will focus on “four paradigm shifts”.

These include fast-tracking the energy transition and slashing emissions before 2030, delivering on old promises and setting the framework for a new deal on finance, putting nature, people, lives, and livelihoods at the heart of climate action, and mobilising for the most inclusive COP.

Ajjour noted that the COP28 will also feature the first Global Stocktake of the Paris Agreement, an international treaty on climate change, adopted in 2015. The Global Stocktake, which is scheduled to happen every five years, is designed to assess the global response to the climate crisis. 

The UNFCCC secretariat (UN Climate Change) had collected input from UNFCCC parties on set nationally determined contributions (NDCs), which refer to the commitments of each country to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change. 

The UNFCCC secretariat stated in a report issued last September that countries’ commitments remain “far off” the track to limit global warming to 1.5°C, according to Ajjour. 

She said that an important aspect of the COP28 will focus on mobilising global efforts to keep the rise in global temperatures below 1.5°C, with a focus on transitioning towards clean energy and sustainable transport. 

Jordan has demonstrated a commitment to meeting its NDC targets, setting long-term adaptation plans. The Kingdom has also raised its greenhouse gas emissions reduction target from 14 per cent to 31 per cent by 2030, added Ajjour. 

Opportunities for Jordan 

One of Jordan’s priority areas in the upcoming COP28 is clean energy, meaning a focus on exploring opportunities related to green hydrogen production as well as technologies concerned with renewable energy storage, said Ajjour. 

The COP28 can also be an opportunity to benefit from climate finance windows to support the implementation of the National Water Carrier project, which is critical to addressing water challenges facing Jordan, she added. 

Ajjour also noted that the Ministry of Environment has made a commendable effort to ensure that the official Jordanian delegation to the COP includes representatives from various sectors to promote networking opportunities, which are important for the exchange of knowledge, capacity building, and the exploration of bilateral collaboration opportunities with counterparts. 

Climate-Refugee Nexus 

Director of Dibeen Association for Environmental Development Hala Murad said that the Climate-Refugee Nexus initiative launched by His Majesty King Abdullah at the COP27 will be a main focus for the Jordanian delegation during the upcoming COP28. 

She explained that the initiative is focused on the distinct case of countries hosting refugees; the initiative makes the case that when a host country of refugees is dealing with climate challenges, its access to climate finance should be enhanced, considering the associated pressures on its resources, such as food and water. 

The Jordanian delegation attending the COP28 will likely work on mobilising support for the initiative, according to Murad. 

Climate Finance, major focus of COP28

Murad noted that this COP is “critical” due to its focus on reforming climate finance.

There needs to be serious discussions on whether rich countries are paying their “fair share” based on historical emissions and income, to ensure that vulnerable low- and middle-income countries have access to the necessary tools for climate adaptation and mitigation, in addition to loss and damage funds. 

Murad said that rich polluting countries haven’t met their climate funding pledge to mobilise $100 billion per year to help developing countries cope with climate change.

“We are on the verge of failing to meet the Paris Climate Agreement’s goal to limit global warming to 1.5°C, unless immediate and strict measures are taken to limit the use of fossil fuels,” she added. 

Murad also explained that this COP is focused on climate finance because it has been established that climate change is an “inevitable” reality, which entails a focus on enhancing countries’ access to adaptation tools and measures.

It’s also necessary to address the concerning gap between funding directed towards adaptation and funding directed towards mitigation; as figures show that 70 per cent of climate finance is dedicated to mitigation, she said. 

Loss and Damage Fund

The COP27 delivered the decision to establish a Loss and Damage Fund to provide financial assistance for nations hard hit by the impacts of climate change. The experts interviewed by The Jordan Times noted that the upcoming COP is expected to result in an agreement on a mechanism to operate the fund. 

Murad explained that mitigation refers to reducing green house gas emissions, while adaption refers to adjustments or measures in response to actual or expected climate change impacts. The loss and damage fund is concerned with unavoidable damages resulting from climate changes.

Murad noted that the outcomes of the latest meeting for the Loss and Damage Transitional Committee indicate that there are challenges related to agreeing on an entity to assume responsibility in operating the fund. Current talks indicate that the World Bank will be hosting the fund, but this has been met with objections; better alternatives would be its independence or being operated under the umbrella of a similar body, such as the Green Climate Fund.