“All of us must do our utmost to help reach the goals”


The United Nations climate summit COP28 kicks off on November 30 in Dubai. EfD’s Director, Gunnar Köhlin, will attend on-site and, among others, representing EfD, host a side event together with MCC. Here are his reflections, prior to the meeting.

It has been a year since COP27 in Cairo last year, what has happened since then?

In accordance with the Paris Agreement, a synthesis report has now been produced on how the work is progressing to limit global warming to a maximum of 2 degrees, and preferably 1.5 degrees. This, in turn, is based on a global review "Global Stocktake" of the countries' climate work. In summary, it can be said that things are not going very well and that there is little evidence that the countries of the world will together achieve the commitments made in Paris in 2015.

Gunnar Köhlin
Gunnar Köhlin, Director, Environment for Development.
Photo: University of Gothenburg.

You will attend on-site - what will your role be?

 The main reason I am going to the COP this year is that EfD is organizing a side event together with the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) which will be about how to implement taxation of carbon dioxide in developing countries in a socially responsible way. Within EfD, we have a series of activities on this theme. Our collaborative program Emission Pricing for Development does modeling of the implications of e.g. carbon dioxide taxes and how they affect different groups in society in different countries is carried out. We also study how well people in different countries accept different forms of policy instruments and reforms.

For me, COP28 will be particularly interesting as I am leading a study on voluntary markets for carbon storage in Africa.

What is on the agenda this year?

The big question on the agenda is how the countries take on the message from the systematic review of previous commitments. These conclusions will form the basis of the countries' updated commitments (Nationally Determined Contributions - NDC), which must be ready in 2025. With the Paris Agreement in 2015, basically all the world's countries agreed to participate in this process. Now we'll see if the process works.

What is most important to agree on?

It would be fantastic if the countries agreed to increase the level of ambition in their respective commitments (NDC), but as I said, we won't see that until 2025. Then there is a long list of other issues that will be discussed, and to some extent negotiated. In particular, I will follow the negotiations of the details of monitoring and verification of carbon storage enabled by Article 6 of the Paris Agreement.

What do you think about the chances of getting away with it?

The likelihood that we will see a rapid reduction in greenhouse gas emissions after the COP in Dubai is extremely small. But all of us who work with these issues must do our utmost to increase that probability. To begin with, I have to ensure that all the emissions that come from my own participation were not unnecessary and only worsened the situation.