REFLECTIONS ON HOW COP28 PROGRESSED CLIMATE AMBITION IN AUSTRALIA & PACIFIC, BUT ALSO FELL SHORT OF CLIMATE ACTION WE URGENTLY NEED NOW.
COP 28 took place in Expo City Dubai on the outskirts of metropolitan Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). During the two-week conference the venue was host to over 100,000 people, which makes COP 28 the most attended COP so far. Amongst those attending were high concentrations of stakeholders from civil society action groups, businesses, governments, and not-for-profits, including a deeply concerning record-breaking number of fossil fuel lobbyists, 2400+ counting. 
Over 300 trained Climate Reality Leaders and colleagues from nine of our 11 international branches were at COP 28. Branches worked to advance both regional and international COP priorities. We collectively broadcast ‘24 Hours of Reality’ live from the COP in Dubai - you can explore the abundance of conversations and stories here.
COPs include a range of activities such as side events, ministerial meetings, and climate actions. At the meeting's heart are the climate negotiations which bring together party delegations to negotiate upon the written outcomes of the COPs, e.g., The Global Stocktake.
During COP 28 we had the privilege to attend many CRL actions on the ground. One highlight was an event led by Climate Reality Leader Anna Teruabine Nuariki and youth delegates from Tungaru Youth Action in Kiribati. They talked about how climate change impacts their land, ocean, and water, and also how they are taking ocean-led climate action at home. In an interview after the event, youth delegate Isabella Teuea said: “This global problem also needs a global solution, and we need youths to be involved in formulating that solution – not only to the issue of accessing safe drinking water but also to the issue of climate change." 
While the Global Stocktake failed many, others are commending the inclusion of a reference to fossil fuels in the outcome, celebrating “the beginning of the end”  of the fossil fuel economy and a step towards a more safe and equitable energy system. On this matter, The Director of Melbourne Climate Futures and Climate Reality Leader Jackie Peel states: "This is the first one to address the elephant in the room, the main cause of greenhouse pollution, which is of course fossil fuels.” 
Notably, the Australian Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Chris Bowen signalled Australia’s support for a fossil fuel phase-out saying that fossil fuels have “no ongoing role to play in our energy systems… if the world is to keep 1.5°C alive.”  Research conducted by PICAN and Oil Change during COP 28, shows that at least 127 countries endorsed or called for a decision to phase-out fossil fuels at COP 28, representing 71.7% of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. 
Another outcome of the Global Stocktake to reflect upon is an endorsement for countries to bring forward updated and more ambitious emission reduction targets (Nationally Determined Contributions) to align targets with a 1.5°C future. Ahead of COP 30 in 2025 (which will take place in Belém, Brazil on the fringes of the Amazon) governments of this region will review their current emission reduction targets and propose more ambitious ones. This presents an opportunity to voice the need for much stronger climate targets and action plans to our governments.
Both health and sustainable food systems were high on the agenda at COP 28. In Dubai, 141 national governments joined the COP 28 UAE Declaration on Climate and Health, and 153 joined the UAE Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems, and Climate Action, including Aotearoa and Australia.  These critical aspects of everyday life are keystone to solving the climate crisis and building regenerative futures, we should take note of how our governments intend to implement commitments made towards food and health at COP 28, and continue to increase pressure on them from stronger outcomes.
A series of national governments and organisations made climate finance commitments at COP 28, however, funding from large emitters in this region such as Australia and Aotearoa were thin on the ground and fell well short of meeting their ‘fair share’ of climate finance. The Australian Government, having previously committed to re-joining the GCF, made an additional pledge of 50 million AUD to the GCF, and announced a contribution of 100 million AUD towards the Pacific Resilience Facility. 
Aotearoa (New Zealand) made no further climate finance commitments at COP 28. Recently instated Climate Change Minister Simon Watt says: “We recognise that we must deliver on our collective commitment to the US $100 billion goal, and on loss and damage finance, and do it in a way that works for our partners in the Pacific.”  The Climate Action Tracker (updated in March 2023) rates Aotearoa’s current climate finance commitments as highly insufficient. 
At this time, we welcome news that climate finance will lead the agenda at COP 29, where developed countries are required to provide new quantified goals on climate finance to developing countries. This spotlights an opportunity for civil society to increase pressure on regional governments to submit much stronger climate finance commitments ahead of COP 29.