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COP28: Daily Reports from the League

Updated: Dec 30, 2023

League observers at the COP24 conference in 2018.

The annual UN Climate Conference, COP28, was held from 30 November until 12 December 2023 at Expo City, Dubai. League representatives attended again this year (in-person and virtually) as observers for the League of Women Voters of the U.S.

See daily reports below.

12/13: COP28 Day 14

Observations from Robin Tokmakian, Virtually

Many of you have awakened to the news that - yes - COP28 finally did adopt, by consensus, a text on what is known as the Global Stocktake and how to be more ambitious on the way forward into the future. As is the case with multilateral negotiations, no one was completely happy with the text but as in the LWV, they could live with it. Samoa, speaking for the small islands, suggested they might not have agreed with the text if they had been in the room - this is a little disconcerting. 

Antigua and Barbados, while agreeing to the text, emphasized that financing is easy to obtain for fossil fuel projects, including LNG-type systems, but financing for renewables is quite difficult. We need to do better. The African Group emphasized the need to approve the Global Goal for Adaptation in the coming COP in 2024. They emphasized the need for adaptation funding, rather than mitigation funding which is long overdue.  

The text of the final GST agreement can be found here  Look for Agenda item 4, right side has a download link - you need to check the box for English for it to download. 

Below are extracts relating to more ambitious actions to address emissions. 


28. Further recognizes the need for deep, rapid and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in line with 1.5 °C pathways and calls on Parties to contribute to the following global efforts, in a nationally determined manner, taking into account the Paris Agreement and their different national circumstances, pathways and approaches:

(a) Tripling renewable energy capacity globally and doubling the global average annual rate of energy efficiency improvements by 2030; 

(b) Accelerating efforts towards the phase-down of unabated coal power; 

(c) Accelerating efforts globally towards net zero emission energy systems, utilizing zero- and low-carbon fuels well before or by around mid-century; 

(d) Transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly and equitable manner, accelerating action in this critical decade, so as to achieve net zero by 2050 in keeping with the science; 

(e) Accelerating zero- and low-emission technologies, including, inter alia, renewables, nuclear, abatement and removal technologies such as carbon capture and utilization and storage, particularly in hard-to-abate sectors, and low-carbon hydrogen production; 

(f) Accelerating and substantially reducing non-carbon-dioxide emissions globally, including in particular methane emissions by 2030; 

(g) Accelerating the reduction of emissions from road transport on a range of pathways, including through the development of infrastructure and rapid deployment of zero-and low-emission vehicles; 

(h) Phasing out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that do not address energy poverty or just transitions, as soon as possible; 

29. Recognizes that transitional fuels can play a role in facilitating the energy transition while ensuring energy security; 

The COP under the Paris Agreement, also did not approve the text to fully operationalize the carbon market (Article 6). Several groups worried that the market did not have strong enough constraints and references to human rights — including the EU, Mexico, and the Independent Alliance of Latin America and the Caribbean (IALAC).  

12/11 and 12/12: COP28 Day 12 & 13

Observations from Robin Tokmakian, Virtually

Things have not gone to plan and COP28 is still going on, although not in public and only in backrooms. Most of my on-the-ground sources have left and only a few observers are left to encourage Parties to do the right thing.  

Saudi Arabia does not want the words “Fossil Fuels” to be anywhere in the outcome text. 

The African Countries seem to think that phasing out fossil fuels will leave their countries in a developing state and will never be up to the Sustainable Development Goals the UN has set for the world. The EU thinks that the Carbon Market Rules will allow too much wiggle room. The US is somewhere in the middle, with John Kerry desperately not wanting the negotiations on the closing language to collapse. And the small island states just want to have their countries not get drowned. It is heartbreaking to hear the representatives speak about these small vulnerable countries. 

Another petrol state will host COP29 in 2024 - Azerbaijan. And in 2025, Belem, Brazil at the mouth of the Amazon will be the host.

I want to be optimistic, but it is extremely hard.  If and when something else comes out of COP28, I will update you all.  

12/9 and 12/10: COP28 Day 10 & 11

Observations from Robin Tokmakian, Virtually

Negotiations on the global stocktake, Article 6 (markets), and adaptation funding have crawled to a stop (almost). The UAE COP presidency held a “Majlis” on Day 11 to try to find a compromise on various topics. The heads of delegations (John Kerry for the US) sat in a circle (on chairs) and shared their views. While many countries said they were looking for compromises and willing to work with others - several countries took hard positions … such as “no language on phasing out fossil fuels”, vs. “must phase out fossil fuels”. Oil-rich countries on one side, and Pacific Island countries on the other.  

The word “balance” is a favorite for many countries. And financing is always at the center of all the negotiations.  

I listened to a talk about the global ocean observation system. Collecting these measurements taken from buoys floating around the ocean, satellite systems, and ships cost 100s of millions of dollars and needs new funding every 5 to 10 years. As an oceanographer who has used and collected such data, I know the value of these data. But even the presenters in these talks mentioned that they needed more money to keep taking the measurements to produce a long time series. As I listened, I pondered whether the dollars spent on collecting data could be spent to fund mitigation efforts in developing countries.  Is there an end point where we’ve collected enough data to understand the earth’s warming signal?  

Also, listening to various voices around COP, there is a definite cry for funding adaptation efforts even at the risk of having less funds to address mitigation. This is worrisome, but it is a developed world concern, rather than from the developing world. 

12/7: COP28 Day 8

Observations from Robin Tokmakian, Virtually

Baku looks like the place for COP29 in 2024. Troubling again, both on a personal level and an environmental level. 

Bolivia is quite upset about negotiations on what is referred to as Article 6 - the market mechanisms/non-market mechanisms for reducing global emissions. Bolivia and its “Like Minded Developing Countries or LMDCs” favors non-market mechanisms, rather than market mechanisms to reduce emissions. Such things include putting a price on carbon, and deforestation efforts. The LMDCs insisted that if they didn’t get the text they favored into one of the sections of Article 6, they would not support any of Article 6. Most of the language in article 6 was agreed to in previous COPs and it is almost operational. But there are lots of hangups of specific language related to a standard way to submit, electronically, the information about a credit. Until the parties agree to this, the mechanism at the heart of COP, can’t be activated. 

Elsewhere, negotiations on the Global Stocktake decision language were taken up at the ministerial level (or political level). The divergent views still exist and the process forward seems unclear to me. Why is this important? The decision, if agreed to, would make a statement on how well the world is doing in addressing climate and how we can be more ambitious, including with funding, to address adaptation, mitigation, and loss and damage.  This includes how to leverage financing to do the job.  

12/5: COP28 Day 6

Observations from Kim Cameron, In Dubai

Energy, Industry, and Just Transition are the theme of the day.

In honor of the day, I went to a talk entitled: Accelerating the elimination of methane emissions and the decarbonization of oil and gas. What did I learn? Well - number 1. Methane is hard to detect, but the collective “we” are getting better at detecting the sources. And, now, thanks to Climate TRACE, we should have no problem detecting the sources (yes!!!!). However, developing countries need technological support to eliminate methane emissions. Goal: Zero methane emissions by 2030. 50 national oil companies (NOCs) and independent oil companies (IOCs), representing more than 40% of global oil production have signed the Oil and Gas Decarbonization Charter (OGDC): ambitious and actionable targets that support the aims of the Paris Agreement. The Near Zero Methane Action Agenda aims to support the O&G industry in achieving near-zero methane emissions by 2030 by unlocking financing mechanisms and technical solutions.

Just to put this in perspective: 28,000 wells in the US need to be addressed (honestly, this does not seem like an astronomical number to deal with, but I’m sure I am underestimating the amount of work required to fix these wells). We need to eliminate valves that allow methane to leak, capture methane from the stack and redirect it into storage in the ground, and electrify compressors (there is a supply chain issue here) which requires strengthening the grid. Money is flowing into this sector, so maybe we can get this done.

Can we get this done - yes. Will companies decide this is where they should invest their money? That is a different question. The answer to that question lies in the next question - will it save them money (or better yet, make them money)? Because that seems to be the true driver of change.

After that fairly depressing (but supposed to be uplifting talk) I went to one of the Global Climate Action talks: Taking Stock of Climate Action: Energy and Industry: Accelerating Systems Transformations. Here we heard from Nicola Davidson, VP of Sustainability for ArcelorMittal (a global steel and mining company with 160K employees, all of whom are working hard to decarbonize steel), Concepcion Boo Arias, director of global partnerships and ESG, public and regulatory affairs at Maersk (Maersk moves cargo around the world by air, land, and sea). Some major points of interest: Maersk needs to make sure that the ships they use are made of the highest quality of steel (which is conveniently also better for the environment). They have a program to take ships out of commission after some time (25 years I believe) and recycle them. Many vessels are coming up for recycling over the next few years and their goal is to recycle those sustainably and replace them with more efficient systems. A great message, but no real change to their system (one would not know that the world is on the edge of a catastrophe).

Steel standards are an issue. There are different ways to make steel and standards have been lacking. Steel standards were announced at COP a couple of days ago: This is a major step forward to defining what is low carbon steel, near zero carbon steel, etc.

Why do we care? Well, 5% of carbon emissions come from steel! Standards allow a life cycle analysis to be accurate and promote a circular economy.

Before I end today’s blog, I do want to touch on a couple of other talks I went to. Electrifying Cooking: a just journey towards net-zero. 2.3 billion people across Africa and Asia use biomass for cooking. This is a problem: it takes time (an average of 4 hours) to find wood and cook the meals, women’s health is affected by the air pollution associated with cooking over an open fire in an enclosed space and finally, lost productivity for women. The lack of progress is estimated to cost $2.4 trillion each year according to the World Bank. So, the Global Electric Cooking Coalition was launched today to convert Africa and Asia’s kitchen to a new type of fuel.

A few things to unpack here. One is the fuel transition: pellet biomass, liquid natural gas, and coal primarily. What happened to solar and wind? Good question, and I don’t know the answer, but I do know that this initiative is supported by the UAE who are financing $4.5 billion to unlock Africa’s clean energy initiative (which they plan to do with LNG). Second, the reason: this transition is not taking place because it is the right way to empower women - it is taking place because the private sector has finally been convinced that this is an economic problem. Four hours of cooking could become four hours of low-paying work for women outside the home. Will this empower women? The jury is out. Third, I’ve talked to several people who are involved in the initiatives to convert cooking and it’s not working - women don’t want to stop cooking over a flame. The food tastes different, the recipes are different, and using a pressure cooker is just not the same as letting a stew cook over an open fire for hours. No surprise here - we have the same issues in the US. No one wants to give up their gas stoves even if they are told that gas in the house is a serious hazard to their health.

A final sad note: almost no one was in the large auditorium where this session was taking place.

Lots more happened today, but this is all I have time for.

12/4: COP28 Day 5

Observations from Susana Hancock, In Dubai

OK, wow! Day 5 and still alive (I think? not sure when I last slept!!). I didn't update yesterday because I didn't finish until 3:30 am, BUT I did manage a social media deluge. I've been posting a fair bit on Instagram throughout the day each day anyway in addition to my little daily minute wrap-ups I've been sharing here. One post, my boss told me to put on LinkedIn and it blew up--several thousand notifications by the time I had breakfast. Yooowwwwww.

My Instagram is if you want the inside look throughout!

Here's a little ditty I made yesterday wrapping up the first four days with what's ahead of us.... Let's just say A LOT!!!

I've been arriving early to the venue--not just because it avoids the epic queue to get through security in the morning but also because that's when we are starting science coordination for the negotiations. I'm currently working on a cryosphere-wide project (poles, glaciated regions, and now also including mountainous parts of Earth), which successfully got the cryosphere into the final text at COP27 in Sharm last year, and we're getting more countries to sign on this year. Initial indication from UN Secretary General António Guterres is that we have permission to cause "good trouble" on Friday during negotiations. Still finalizing permissions, but stay tuned!!

Yesterday after my morning dose of science and before the afternoon/evening fill, I spent briefly with Candice in a session on global health. And then I ran to Al Gore's presentation on Climate TRACE. This was awesome, though as an avid consumer of TRACE, I'm biased. TRACE uses remote sensing, satellite data, etc. to secure real-time emissions, thereby preventing companies from underreporting or selling emissions to get away with not cutting. I started working with TRACE nearly two years ago, around the time it launched, just ahead of COP26 and have since launched the first two public-facing apps in the world using the data. I'm happy to talk about this data set if anyone is keen, it really is an incredible resource!

Today's highlights included more science and negotiations and then an incredible catch up with Dr Svitlana Krakovska, who seems to hold the Ukrainian science and climate world together. She is also a polar scientist, but moreover, she's an incredible human being, and I love my chances to visit with her at every and any opportunity. We had very emotional discussions on the impacts of science on war and vice versa. This was both at the structural level and also at the very personal. The Ukrainian pavilion is back this year for the second year running and the exhibits are powerful.

My other big highlight for the day was speaking with the Climate Vulnerable Forum and the Lancet. The CVF is one of my partners for my big public health grant starting in January. We had some terrific talks about using the European tribunal system as well as the Universal Periodic Review--a process through which all UN member states can interrogate the others regarding human rights. Additionally, coalitions of nation states have already expressed interest in joining my project, even though it doesn't kick off until later in the winter. Luckily, the climate crisis is a human rights issue so the door is open!

12/3: COP28 Day 4

Observations from Robin Tokmakian, Virtually

Here’s the link to many of the webcasts of the side events. Many events have been recorded and available for the general public outside of registered participants to view. Click away!

I virtually attended an update session on the Paris Agreement’s Article 6.4. This is the carbon trading mechanism article. Operationalizing the market is still some ways off, maybe by 2025. From what was said, it should be much better/fairer than the Kyoto Carbon market, which by almost everyone’s views, was a failure.

One side event today was called “Human Rights at 75." Given that LWVUS Advocacy chair at the time, Eleanor Roosevelt chaired the drafting committee, it is good to know that the declaration has stood the test of time.

The Global StockTake Negotiations on a decision text has a long way to go. As they say in diplomatic speak “there are many rich views” discussed (controversial/differing views? ). The differences today were in the area of international cooperation, guidance into the future, and loss and damage. Many countries want to include language related to human rights, but some countries, such as Iran, push back on including such language. The US suggested some language related to sea level rise and how a country’s status and maritime economic zone should not change, even if part of it disappears - interesting. Some countries made the point that the language would need to be consistent with the UN’s Law of the Sea language. There are so many overlaps with many other international agreements that it must be hard for the diplomats to keep things consistent.

Although I’m only a virtual participant this year, I did receive a note from the UNFCCC saying that they had to prohibit observer actions between 1:30pm and 3pm because it was too hot and they were worried about people’s safety. Don’t know if something happened to make this new rule or not.

Observations from Candice Owley, In Dubai

Today was the first-ever Health Day at COP. The effort was led in large part by WHO to let the world know that the climate crisis is the greatest health threat in the world. The healthcare workers on the front line were the first to sound the alarm about the deadly effect of climate change. Throughout the day there were many health-connected events and the day ended with the first-ever convening of over 100 global health ministers. To bring attention to the health crisis, the COP issued a Declaration on climate and health. The declaration signed by 123 countries expressed grave concern about the negative impacts of climate change on health and stressed the urgent need to strengthen health systems given lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic which strained all health systems and widened inequities. The declaration concluded with the commitment to convene regularly and to review progress at future COP meetings and other WHO and global meetings.

Today was the first-ever Health Day at COP. The effort was led in large part by WHO to let the world know that the climate crisis is the greatest health threat in the world.

The messages of yesterday were reiterated: climate change is killing us, urgent action is needed, health is the human face of the climate crisis, and healthcare leaders and providers have an ethical responsibility and public trust to be the ones that make this crisis real to policymakers and the general public. This urgent call to action included the role of civil society to also take the lead in educating the public about the clear and present danger of climate change. One speaker suggested we measure progress on the climate crisis not only by emissions reduced but by how many lives were saved or lost by our actions each year. It would be a powerful way to put people at the center of the discussions.

I can’t help but reflect that while today we celebrate the fact that finally COP put health front and center at this year's meeting the reason is that we failed to understand how fast climate change would become life-threatening. In many ways today is a sign of our failure to act. We’ve allowed the situation to get so bad that we can no longer turn away or bury our heads in the sand as we could for the last 27 COPs.

My other reflection is that I believe the League can play a role in this crisis by educating our members and our communities about the life-threatening effects of climate change. Lives are being lost every day and we all have a part to play in this fight for the future of mankind and of the planet.

12/2: COP28 Day 3

Observations from Robin Tokmakian, Virtually

Another day of negotiations and side events. It started with various High-Level panels on health initiatives. Finally, COP28 is centering day 4 as “Health Day”.

And —money, money, money … There were negotiators asking for text to be added to various documents requesting money be set aside for technology and capacity training, and ministers gave statements committing money to various things, such as health issues. While dollar commitments were made, money flowing into various funds is not guaranteed. This especially is the case with the US’s commitments and the fact that Congress has to approve the funds (not likely this year or in 2024). The reality is how far the US, as one of the world’s biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, can go to reach its NDC if we don’t have a Congress and Executive branch to make it happen.

Observations from Candice Owley, In Dubai Today began again with a lot of confusion and delays as a result of restrictions related to so many heads of state attending but the good news is they will all be gone by tomorrow and then negotiators will get down to business. Still, I think it is important to say that the presence of so many county leaders sends a message to the world that the climate crisis is real and we must take action now. Once again I spent most of my time on health. I was fortunate to receive one of the very few tickets to a high-level leader’s session on Putting Health at the Center of the Climate agenda. The session began with the COP 28 President, Sultan al-Jaber, stating that we do not need any more evidence, that climate change is real and it is deadly. He said we know that at least 7 million people a year die from air pollution alone. He announced that tomorrow at least 123 national Health Ministers will be at COP to announce the endorsement of a declaration on health. He again stressed that this is the first COP to put Health at the center of the program. He also said that we need to develop tangible results and not just words on a paper. That the health agenda is the most powerful way to make climate change real and that Climate change is the single biggest health threat to humanity. The President was followed by Dr. Tedras the head of the World Health Organization. Dr. Tedras said that health care can be a game changer in the fight for action on the climate crisis. He also called out fossil fuel production as environmental vandalism. Speaking truth to power. He reminded us that Health is the human face of climate change. Their remarks were followed by a panel which included the head of Doctors Without Borders. Members of the panel shared many disturbing facts such as the major increase in malaria and other mosquito-born diseases and the emergence of new pathogens. It was enough to scare the pants off of anyone. Tomorrow will be the meeting of the Health Ministers and the pledge of support for the new health declaration plus an announcement about significant funds debated the health issues. I was fortunate to also meet a group of nurses from the Alliance of Nurses for a Healthy Environment who asked after Connie and were sorry to hear she wasn’t present in person this year. In closing, I also learned where to get bandaids and replacements for lost metro cards and was glad I brought COVID test kits with me as there was an outbreak in the human rights work group.

Observations from Susana Hancock, In Dubai

Hello all from Day 3!

I gotta say: the air quality here is getting to me. It was 156 this morning when I woke up, and quickly I lost decent sight of the world's largest gas power generator out my window--just one short metro hop down the line but it poked through the smog. I've had migraines that develop when I'm outside for too long. I've taken to wearing a mask and am doing what I can with saline washes, which I do think helps a bit.

This morning I started off on sessions about carbon absorption with the Prince of Monaco Foundation. This was great for me, because I saw Prince Albert II of Monaco over coffee and the head of his foundation. I've been working with Prince Albert and his team to develop his Polar Initiative, which he is now planning to steer toward geopolitics and science diplomacy. I followed this with a quick hello to John Kerry, who seems significantly better than earlier this month when he and I were amongst four Americans President Emmanuel Macron brought to France for pre-COP negotiations with the One Paris Summit.

I was able to then catch the second half of Mini's session on the intersection of the climate crisis and public health where I met up with Kim. Unspoken in her session, this panel highlighted a gross frustration of mine--the dominance of the male patriarchy in climate discussions. Why is it that women are left to deal with "women's problems" when really, the education of girls, eg, is a societal problem? Why is it girls' job to fight for their own education? Where are the men speaking up?

I tried to accompany Kim to the French Pavilion but after taking my seat, I got called to the UNFCCC's Global Innovation Hub for a talk with Future Earth and the Club of Rome. This session was both phenomenal and terrifying. We looked at the stats of the conference, and as an expert for the IPCC's last assessment report, the results were scary. Did you know that only half of one percent of attendees here are scientists?? Did you know that the leaders of this conference are not even using the most recent (2021--some of which is already outdated) IPCC research???

After a brief moment of recovery (in the form of coffee--given to me from a single use Keurig--I made my way to the Cryosphere Pavilion for a talk relating to some of my NGO's work on modeling sea level rise from Greenland and Antarctica and the implications for small island states (physics isn't their friend...).

Here's a little mental math for you - that global loss and damages fund? The amount pledged thus far totals 0.006% of what some of the same donors spent on fossil fuel subsidies last year!

Here's a little mental math for you - that global loss and damages fund? The amount pledged thus far totals 0.006% of what some of the same donors spent on fossil fuel subsidies last year! I'm not sure why no one else has done that math, but that spurred me to write an article that should be appearing in the US news in the next day or so.

In better news, Colombia became the tenth country to sign onto the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative today!! What's exciting is that Colombia is the first non-small island state. I testified last August to get Portland, Maine to sign on, after giving a talk at COP27 with the founder of the Fossil Fuel Treaty, so this is a baby I follow.

Tomorrow, I head very early to take part in a small science negotiation for the draft text of the COP outcomes, and then it's likely a relatively relaxed day to explore and learn new things!

Here's a little tour through Michael Pinsky's Pollution Pod art installation. Pretty powerful and reinforces my privilege to live in a safe-air area!!

12/1: COP28 Day 2

Observations from Candice Owley, In Dubai

It has been an interesting, exhausting, and often confusing experience for me as a first-timer at COP. As an observer, I am not able to participate in any negotiations so I decided to find ways I could have influence and also increase my knowledge of the issues. I decided to focus on labor and human rights and on the critical issue of the impact of climate change on heath. Each day I attend a briefing by the Trade Union group and also one by there Human rights Working Group. Both of these daily briefings have been extremely helpful. At the meeting I learned of the importance of urging our US representatives to push for inclusion of both labor and human rights during all stages of the negotiations. We were told that that many countries do not want to even acknowledge the impact on workers and the human rights issues that are linked to climate change. There was much reporting about the adoption on Day 1 of an agreement to fund the damages from climate change. The activists groups (labor, women, youth, etc) while supportive of the action they all reported there were disappointed because there were many flaws with the language but efforts now need to turn to influencing who has power to make decisions about the funds including how it is distributed and who is at the table for the next stage - implementation. So more work to be done. Also much criticism of the promise of a very low financial contribution from the US compared to other big counties.

The other major focus of my time has been on health. For the first time in COP history there will be a Health Day. On that day the largest number of Ministries of Health from around the world will be here to call attention to the critical link between climate change and health problems. I will report more on this issue after Health Day which is December 3rd. Speaking of health, there was a great presentation centered on the recently adopted UN declaration affirming the human right to a health which links this right to climate change. What is clear is that the right to a healthy environment is a basic and fundamental human right. All over the world activists are using this concept and bring and winning law suits to stop policies that would be damaging or have been damaging to peoples health. I’m looking forward to the even greater focus on health in the next few days.

Observations from Susana Hancock, In Dubai

Yesterday's historic passing of Loss and Damage continues to ruminate in my head. YES, it was incredible to get passed--but it honestly weighs on me heavily and uneasily. I'm really worried that L&D is being framed as the success of this COP. Why is that concerning? First, the current pledges are woefully insufficient, and I'm honestly sick of pledges--they are never paid!! As of last year, the US had paid 5% of its pledges to climate funding and yet was still signing for more. Second, though, is that the focus on L&D has been on adaptation rather than mitigation. Now, we need adaptation, but we also need mitigation. This ties into my bigger concern that the closing documents are going to leave out the phaseout of fossil fuels, stating rather that we need to bring in interventions (carbon capture, eg), enabling us de facto to continue to develop the fossil fuel industry. By passing L&D, the conference can argue that we've already had a major win--even though it's a scratch at the surface for what needs to happen for L&D--especially as fossil fuels continue to flourish.

By passing Loss and Damage, the conference can argue that we've already had a major win--even though it's a scratch at the surface for what needs to happen for L&D--especially as fossil fuels continue to flourish.

Today was the first day of the Global Leaders' Summit, so we got to hear from everyone from PM Narendra Modi to King Charles. This continues tomorrow after which pressure will escalate for some walking behind the talking. In the morning, I attended a session on the intersection of the climate crisis and public health, especially concerning vector-borne diseases, and then had several conversations on this topic. I've just received a multimillion dollar grant to link polar-driven planetary tipping points to global health, so this has been an area developing for me quite a bit. I also spent a fair amount of time at the Ocean Pavilion, where I networked, discussed collaborations and attended sessions on Arctic pollution and plastics. I'm working on trying to develop a democracy project for COP29, so I began some inroads today, which will continue over the coming days.

The air pollution is getting to me a bit. I'm not the only one-- people have been getting nose bleeds and walking around with towels in their nostrils!

11/30: COP28 Day 1

Observations from Robin Tokmakian, Virtually

After a slow start — starting at midday rather than at 9 AM, COP28 Day 1 ended on a somewhat positive note. The parties agreed to initiate a Loss and Damage fund, temporarily hosted by the World Bank but run by an independent board (membership to be determined). This is the first year the parties have agreed to something on day 1 of a COP. From what I understand, the US negotiator who was part of the Loss and Damage transition committee was instrumental in formulating a compromise. But before all of this happened, a small sideshow. Let me explain. At the start of each COP, the agenda contains some items which I would call business items, such as voting on the next COP chair, setting up rules, etc. One of the items is to approve the list of NGOs that have applied to be observers in the past year. This year the list included 600 or so organizations from around the world, bringing the total to somewhere in the 1000s. Among the organizations were George Soros’ OpenSociety and a US-based organization, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI). After the item was approved, Russia asked for the floor and complained that these 2 organizations were fronts for US state-funded political activity (not true) and admitted such organizations only politicized the process - and such organizations shouldn’t be allowed to participate in the future. A few minutes later, the US Delegate, John Kerry, asked for the floor and, sounding somewhat annoyed, stated that civil society organizations should not be prohibited from participating. Somewhere, both these statements will be a part of the official COP28 record. Also admitted as an approved NGO was the American Petroleum Institute — a surprise, because I would have assumed they'd have asked to participate years ago!

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