COP28: Mercy Corps Urges Leaders to Rethink Climate Commitments

David Nicholson is Mercy Corps’ Chief Climate Officer.
David Nicholson is Mercy Corps’ Chief Climate Officer.

6 Inspiring Actions Amidst 2 Climate Setbacks: Mercy Corps Calls for Rethinking Leadership


  • COP28’s conclusion in Dubai showcased promising steps like transitioning from fossil fuels and initiating the Loss and Damage Fund but lacked decisive action to implement these changes equitably, leaving adaptation priorities unaddressed.
  • The conference highlighted eroding trust in climate finance commitments, with developed nations failing to meet pledges, especially in doubling adaptation finance, posing challenges for vulnerable communities.
  • Despite incremental progress, COP28 failed to meet the urgent needs of a world on the brink of 3 degrees of warming, prompting a call for a more substantial response as focus shifts to COP29 in Baku.

The curtains have closed on the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP28, in Dubai, marking the end of an event that carried high hopes for monumental change. Yet, the resonance of disappointment echoes through the corridors of global concern. The closing agreement, while a step forward, falls significantly short in the battle against climate change, leaving the urgency of the matter inadequately addressed.

David Nicholson, the Chief Climate Officer at Mercy Corps, expressed a mixed sentiment of both hope and frustration. While acknowledging certain strides made, such as the agreement to transition away from fossil fuels and the initiation of the Loss and Damage Fund, Nicholson laments the lack of resolute action to execute and fund these initiatives fairly. His words echo the plea for accountability, particularly highlighting the historical culpability of those contributing to the climate crisis.

The much-anticipated focus on adaptation, deemed vital for countless individuals affected by the climate upheaval, found itself sidelined yet again. Nicholson stressed the urgency of integrating the Loss and Damage Fund into a robust climate finance objective, rooted in the principle of responsibility resting upon the shoulders of those nations primarily responsible for environmental degradation.

The discourse around climate finance was at the core of COP28 negotiations, set against a backdrop of diminishing trust. Developed nations’ failure to honour past climate finance commitments and attempts to dilute accountability for future financial obligations have exacerbated the predicament. Specifically, the promise to double adaptation finance since the Glasgow COP26 remains unfulfilled, posing considerable challenges for communities vulnerable to climate adversities.

Despite acknowledging the widening gap in adaptation finance within the Global Stocktake, the urgency and accountability in fulfilling the commitments fell short, especially in supporting fragile and conflict-ridden nations. The Global Goal on Adaptation, although adopted at COP28, lacks the immediacy and mechanisms to hold developed nations accountable for their contributions.

COP28, amidst some incremental advancements, stands as a stark reminder of the inadequacy of addressing the impending catastrophe of a 3-degree warming world. The conference failed to catalyse the transformative change needed in various domains: adaptation, mitigation, finance, and beyond. This outcome leaves millions in vulnerable circumstances directly impacted by climate change in a state of profound disappointment and anxiety.

With COP29 on the horizon in Baku, the responsibility now rests heavily on world leaders. The call for a more substantial, fair, and urgent response is louder than ever. The disappointment of COP28 must serve as a clarion call for leaders to unite in their resolve for a more equitable and impactful agenda as the world navigates the tumultuous waters of climate change.



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