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Keeping you in-the-know on environmental, social and governance developments

COP28 has converged in Dubai and media/consultant/NGO coverage of the event is ubiquitous. Except you won’t see much of it here on Why? With all their hype, grandiosity, pomp and circumstance, COPs are more aspirational and political posturing than practical or operational. Our role is to provide readers and members with practical information they can use on a daily basis in their jobs. We aren’t perfect, but we try to filter out information that is theoretical, marketing or more aspirational than pragmatic.

To be sure, plans and announcements that come out of COPs can form the basis of actionable initiatives or mandates, but that happens in geologic time. One infamous example:

“At the 15th Conference of Parties (COP15) … in Copenhagen in 2009, developed countries committed to a collective goal of mobilising USD 100 billion per year by 2020 for climate action in developing countries, in the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation. The goal was formalised at COP16 in Cancun [2010], and at COP21 in Paris [2015], it was reiterated and extended to 2025.”

According to OECD’s November 2023 progress report, that goal had not been met as of 2021 (most recent reporting year) – and based on recent years’ fund growth – probably won’t be met soon. Another example: a growing amount of data shows that we probably already blew past the Paris 1.5°C commitment. Advisory Board member Mark Trexler has called 1.5°C all but impossible at this point. There is already talk of 1.7°C and even 2.0°C.

An article (“Great Expectations”) in Carbon Mechanisms Review offers that

“detailed rules on tracking and accounting for international carbon markets cooperation will be a focus of Article 6 negotiations at COP28… countries still have different interpretations of what the rules adopted in Glasgow [COP26 in 2021] mean and what further decisions are necessary to have a robust accounting system in place.”

Precedent indicates a timely resolution is unlikely – even during a particularly tumultuous year in the voluntary carbon offsets world.

Yes, it’s valuable to keep track of what is going on in Dubai, but actionable outcomes are years off. The majority of CSOs, General Counsel and ESG/sustainability professionals are overwhelmed in managing the tsunami of information, initiatives and activities with which they are already tasked. That is hard enough and more imminent (ironic, given that ESG is supposed to be about the long term). We’ll monitor the developments and outcomes of COP28, but we won’t be covering it much. If you are interested, this memo from Hunton Andrews Kurth is a concise overview of the main topics to be tackled in Dubai.

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Photo credit: Timon –

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The Editor

Lawrence Heim has been practicing in the field of ESG management for almost 40 years. He began his career as a legal assistant in the Environmental Practice of Vinson & Elkins working for a partner who is nationally recognized and an adjunct professor of environmental law at the University of Texas Law School. He moved into technical environmental consulting with ENSR Consulting & Engineering at the height of environmental regulatory development, working across a range of disciplines. He was one… View Profile