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No COP out on climate action as conference gets underway


Head of Sustainability and Climate Change Dr. Sam Gardner has his say on the true reality of the climate emergency as the COP28 climate change conference gets underway in the United Arab Emirates.


The stark warning comes from the renowned Copernicus Climate Change Service, whose Deputy Director Samantha Burgess said: “We can say with near certainty that 2023 will be the warmest year on record, and is currently 1.43ºC above the preindustrial average. The sense of urgency for ambitious climate action going into COP28 has never been higher.” *

There is a global race for net zero, with innovative policies, incentives and investment driving significant commitments and action – particularly across the European Union and the United States of America – to reduce emissions, accelerate the transition from fossil fuels and create a cleaner and greener future for us all.

And yet, the most recent assessment from the UK Climate Change Committee (CCC) shows that the UK’s own pace and progress in reducing emissions in line with climate targets is sadly lacking. There is a very real gap between current climate plans and what is needed to achieve our targets and deliver on ambitions to limit global temperature increases.

Two years on from Glasgow’s COP, the CCC has expressed concern about the likelihood of meeting the UK’s 2030 climate target and has highlighted the substantial policy gap that must be addressed if we are to get on track.  As COP28 approaches our well-earned position of global leadership is under fresh scrutiny.  Now is the time to renew that position, drive forward new policy – for instance around planning to support green development; and go further and faster than before.  This is a global race of opportunity, we cant afford to let up when others press on.

So, what does that mean for COP28?

In a nutshell, COP28 needs to bring together ambitions and actions to create a comprehensive pathway for how we can accelerate climate action, drive the global energy transition and keep 1.5 degrees alive. The time for talking is over.

That means global leaders – including the UK – walking the walk in the UAE and delivering robust political signals and agreements to:

  • Phase out fossil fuels in line with the 1.5⁰C scenario, and do this as part of a just transition approach.
  • Triple renewable capacity by 2030
  • Double annual improvements in energy efficiency in the run up to 2030.

These are key priorities that must be part any Dubai declaration, otherwise the goals of the Paris Agreement will remain out of reach.

One of the unique features of COP28 is that it will include discussions on and responses to the first Global Climate Stocktake – quite literally, taking stock of progress towards the goals set out in the 2015 Paris Agreement to keep the increase in global average temperatures to well below 2⁰C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit this to 1.5⁰C.

This wake-up call must become a driver of renewed political ambition – and action – and be supported by a framework for adaptation and financial support that sets nature, people, lives, and livelihoods at the heart of the climate action agenda.

ScottishPower, as part of the Iberdrola Group, is proud to be at the forefront of that worldwide response to the climate emergency, delivering the green solutions that will enable the change that’s needed.

But we can’t do it alone and we need global climate leadership supported by tangible actions and clear milestones.

Scotland’s forthcoming Energy Strategy & Just Transition Plan and Climate Change Plan provides a fantastic opportunity to bring together ambition and action and set out a clear route map to drive down emissions, decarbonise our heating and transport sectors, urgently develop new renewables and grid projects, and ensure the energy transition is a fair and just one that creates opportunities for everyone.

That’s a really bold vision and one that must become a reality if we’re going to do our bit to protect our people, our places and our planet.   

COP28 is our chance to collectively move the dial, pick up the pace and get back on track for a cleaner, greener, fairer, net zero future. To do anything less will be a cop out.