COP28 is a make-or-break moment for tackling climate change after years of broken promises

As world leaders meet at COP28, Islamic Relief says the summit must finally deliver an unequivocal agreement to phase out the use of fossil fuels and limit global heating to 1.5 degrees.

This year has been the planet’s hottest year on record and climate change is plunging billions of people all over the world into poverty and increasing disasters that wipe out lives and livelihoods. 

Yet rich nations continue to approve new oil, gas and coal projects and producers seek more deals to increase demand and reliance on fossil fuels – despite previous commitments to limit global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels, beyond which the impact will be devastating and irreversible.

The UN Environment Programme warned last week that the world is now headed for a nightmare scenario of an increase of 3 degrees by the end of the century, as the richest and highest-polluting nations have failed to curb emissions. Countries need to cut emissions by at least 42% to meet the 1.5 degrees target.

Jamie Williams, Islamic Relief’s senior advisor on climate change, says:

“A rise in temperature of more than 1.5 degrees will be absolutely catastrophic. It is hard to believe that in the face of such clear scientific evidence, world leaders are repeatedly failing to take action and deliver on their promises, and in some cases continue to approve projects that will make things even worse. The world is fast running out of time – at COP28 we need to see real action not more empty words. The future of humanity is at stake. We must see a clear plan and timeline to phase out the use of fossil fuels.”

Islamic Relief is one of many organisations around the world to sign up to the call for a Fossil Fuel Treaty that halts the expansion of fossil fuels, phases out their use, and manages an equitable and just transition to sustainable energy sources that benefits the poorest in society.

Islamic Relief believes in climate justice – the highest-polluting nations who are most responsible for climate change must pay to protect people from its devastating effects. The world’s poorest and most marginalised people are the ones who are least responsible for climate change and yet are most affected by it.

At COP28 the highest-polluting nations must finally deliver on previous promises to help the poorest countries adapt to the impacts of climate change. At COP26 two years ago, world leaders pledged to double financing for adaptation yet since then funding for the poorest countries has actually decreased. Now even doubling is not enough, as tripling or more is needed to close the adaptation gap. And it must go to the right places – the 14 most affected and poorest countries, which have contributed least to global heating, are currently the 14 most underfunded for adaptation.

We are also calling for rich nations to ensure that the new Loss and Damage Fund is adequately funded, with clear annual targets and transparent and fair allocations. The fund must be comprehensive, addressing both economic and non-economic loss and damage resulting from extreme weather events and slow-onset disasters.

This climate financing must be in the form of grants, not loans that trap the poorest countries in even more debt. We are also calling for world leaders to ensure that adaptation plans are locally led.  

Jamie Williams says: “The COP28 discussions between countries shut out the people who are most affected. Yet adaptation efforts are most effective when they are led by and informed by local communities and their experiences and knowledge. The impact of climate change is exacerbated by structural inequalities and the world must do much more to ensure that women, youth, children, Indigenous people and other marginalised groups are at the heart of adaptation plans.”

Islamic Relief is calling for the Global Goal on Adaptation to be fully operationalised, with clear global targets and a permanent item on the agenda for COP and its subsidiary bodies, as well as a roadmap to at least double adaptation finance and support to help poor countries prepare and implement their National Adaptation Plans.

Shahin Ashraf, Islamic Relief Worldwide’s Head of Advocacy, says: “Justice demands that those with the means and responsibility must lead the way in finding urgent solutions. Funding the new Loss and Damage Fund is not merely an economic calculation but should be a moral obligation to address the deep injustices at the heart of the climate crisis. The cries for justice from the most affected communities across the world must be heard and answered. What meaningful justice can there be for those who have lost their lives in disasters that would not have happened on such a destructive scale if it were not for the actions of a few major polluters. As long as industry and governments continue to invest in oil and coal extraction, they are prioritising profit over people.”