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Caribbean nations push for  climate action at COP28 

Representatives from Caribbean nations advocated forcefully for more climate funding and a transition away from fossil fuels at the recent COP28 climate talks in Dubai. Racquel Moses, CEO of the Caribbean Climate Smart Accelerator, and a United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Global Ambassador, discussed the high-stakes negotiations and what the outcomes mean for small island developing states on the frontlines of climate change.

Historic agreement to transition from fossil fuels

A major achievement from COP28 was consensus among all 200 participating countries to begin transitioning away from fossil fuels for energy production – the first such agreement in climate talks history.

As Moses explained, “Prior to this, in all of the 27 previous conference of the parties, they didn’t necessarily identify the cause of the carbon emissions and highlight fossil fuels.”

The language may not go as far as outright calling for “phasing out” fossil fuels as many countries wanted. However, Moses argued this still represents monumental progress for climate action: “We were able to get the transition away for the production of energy written into the final text. This was historic and unprecedented and very, very necessary in order for us to start addressing the root causes of climate change.”

Simon Stiell, the UN Climate Change Executive Secretary, called the COP28 agreement “the beginning of the end” for the fossil fuel industry. Moses agreed the text signals a turning point in energy production, though she argued the transition will not necessarily spell doom for fossil fuel companies as some may portray it.

She pointed to the disruption faced by industries relying on horses and buggies over a century ago with the advent of automobiles. While challenging for some, the skills translated into new opportunities over time.

“We see this as the transition of energy, not the end of energy,” Moses stated. “We need to think about what is the core business we’re in. For Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and many oil and gas producers, we’re in the energy industry.”


Engaging fossil fuel companies in the clean energy transition

Moses also pushed back against the hostility climate advocates often direct toward fossil fuel companies. She argued these companies need to lead in the transition to renewables rather than be sidelined.

“Many fossil fuel companies are already leading the charge in clean energy investment and projects,” Moses noted. “A lot of the renewable energy development that has taken place globally has funding from oil and gas giants.”

In addition to the historic fossil fuel shift, Moses highlighted the breakthrough on establishing a “Loss and Damage” fund to help vulnerable nations cope with escalating climate impacts.

She explained Caribbean countries already face major loss and damage from increased flooding, droughts, storms, and other disasters due to climate change.

“This fund allows us recourse when the damage goes above and beyond normal expectations,” Moses said.

After years of delays, COP28 finally delivered with wealthy nations committing nearly US$800 million in initial funding. Moses noted operationalising the distribution procedures remains critical in getting these resources where they are urgently needed when climate disasters strike.

The agreements coming out of COP28 reflect increasing pressure on wealthy high-emitting nations to take financial and technological responsibility for those facing severe climate threats.

Moses and other Caribbean representatives played a crucial role in elevating the voices of vulnerable countries and securing greater climate action on the world stage.