In the wake of COP28, Dr Rob Bellamy, Programme Director of MSc Climate Change at the University of Manchester has shared an in-depth exploration of the summit’s insights and invaluable lessons.

Key highlights include how countries have agreed targets to triple renewable power generation and how the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has introduced a new global roadmap that outlines objectives for sustaining food systems whilst accommodating a growing population. As the world looks to the outcomes of COP28 for guidance and inspiration, Dr Bellamy considers the key takeouts and implications of these insights.


  1. The future of food

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has introduced a new global roadmap that outlines objectives for sustaining food systems whilst accommodating a growing population. Not only is food production a major contributor to global warming, with approximately one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions stemming from food and farming, but the food production sector is also particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

The initial phase of the plan outlines essential goals in areas including livestock, soil and water, crops, diets, and fisheries, with targets aimed to be achieved from 2025 to 2050, with additional specifics to be released in the coming three years.

However, by sustaining food systems with environmentally conscious practices, it can play a crucial role in mitigating climate change by reducing emissions, preserving natural resources, and promoting resilience in the face of a changing climate.


  1. £350m given to countries hit by climate change

More than £350m has been committed by rich countries towards a new fund to help countries impacted severely by climate change. Within this, the UK’s £60m pledge is third behind the £79m promised by the climate summit hosts, the United Arab Emirates, and the EU, who have collectively promised around £194m.

The source of the UK’s contribution remains uncertain, as it is unclear whether the funds will be drawn from the £11.6bn climate finance budget allocated over five years or if they constitute supplementary funds. Nevertheless, environmental organisations, such as WWF, were prompt to highlight the imperative for wealthy nations to provide billions rather than millions to countries grappling with the financial toll of extreme weather events. To put it in perspective, the cost of Pakistan’s flood damage last year amounted to $15bn.


  1. The phaseout of fossil fuels

The initial draft agreement for the UN’s COP28 climate summit has omitted any explicit mention of phasing out fossil fuels. This omission has sparked criticism from countries who allege that petrostates, particularly Saudi Arabia, are hindering global efforts to address climate change.

The document, which was approved by nearly 200 nations, outlines various measures that countries could adopt to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. These measures involve reducing the consumption and production of fossil fuels in a fair and orderly manner aligned with scientific recommendations. By gaining approval from nearly 200 nations, it facilitates a unified commitment to implementing measures that collectively contribute to achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, thereby addressing the urgent and critical challenges posed by climate change on a worldwide scale.

However, petrostates have opposed the international call for a fossil fuel phase-out. Instead, they are intensifying their extraction endeavours, striving to double down on the expansion of the fossil fuel phase. But. despite this, many countries are advocating for a more ambitious final text, one that commits to a groundbreaking agreement to actively phase out fossil fuels rather than merely offering the option to reduce their use and production.


  1. Renewable energy

Over 100 countries have agreed to triple the amount of renewable energy by 2030, which is important for reaching the climate goals set in the 2015 Paris Agreement. However, while renewable energy is already growing quickly, achieving this new goal would require a significant increase in solar and wind power projects and meeting these targets depends on strong government support and enough funding.

Countries now need to establish the right policies and regulations to encourage investment, especially in grid infrastructure, but despite the ambitious goals, there is a lack of detailed guidance on how countries can make the renewable energy industry grow even faster.


  1. Methane Reduction

Six of the biggest dairy companies have launched an alliance to curb methane emissions, including Kraft Heinz, Lactalis USA, Nestle, Danone, Bel Group and General Mills.

Methane is a highly potent greenhouse gas that can warm up the planet faster than other greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. However, this marks a significant shift in addressing global warming, as it’s the first-time agricultural entities, specifically dairy companies, have united to tackle methane emissions. Until now, efforts focused largely on the oil and gas sector.

The commitment to reduce methane emissions by these dairy giants comes just days after 50 oil companies, representing almost half of the global oil production, made pledges to reduce methane emissions to near zero by 2030.