COP28 update: Day 5, 4 December

After yesterday’s tumultuous response to reports that the COP President had asserted that there is “no science” supporting the call to phase out fossil fuels, Dr Sultan Al-Jaber spent most of today rebutting criticism and repeating that “science that has guided the principles and strategy as COP28 president”.

The presidency also issued a flurry of statements highlighting that the COP has so far mobilised more than $57 billion for the climate agenda, has seen eight new declarations, and has asked Parties to “to come forward with language on all fossil fuels for the negotiated text”.

“Everything this presidency has been working on, and continues to work on, is centred around the science,” the presidency emphasised. “The North Star of the COP28 presidency is to keep 1.5C within reach.”

While the hosts were busy fending off the press and other stakeholders, the substantive business of COP was going on quietly in the background. Obviously, the overarching political statement and the text on the Global Stocktake will be the highest profile documents produced in Dubai, and so far there is little readout from those discussions. One observer noted that this is the first such assessment that’s been attempted, meaning delegations don’t even know what it should say or mandate.

Civil society observers make the point that the Stocktake is meant to enhance the ambition of the next round of NDCs, which will cover the period from 2025 to as far out as 2035. “That’s a period when many industrialised countries will have to get close to zero fossil fuel emissions,” said Lili Fuhr of the Center for International Environmental Law.

And that’s a big part of the challenge: the Stocktake text really needs to address the issue of fossil fuels, and countries are sharply divided on whether it should refer to a “phase down” or a “phase out”. Bloomberg reported today, for example, that Saudi Arabia’s energy minister said the country would “absolutely not” agree to a text that calls for a phase down.

Senior officials have been cautious in their assessment of the progress of these negotiations to date, waiting for draft texts on all the key files to be completed by technical negotiators and passed up to their political leaders for further action. The brouhaha over the President’s comments has not helped the mood, though.

With Article 6 consultations going on in the background, Monday was very definitely a VCM day: there were several high-profile announcements and events around the COP venue, including our own VCM roundtable, which featured participants from the World Bank, UNFCCC, Climate Impact Partners, Evolution Markets, BP, Wildlife Works, ACX, Standard Chartered, and not forgetting CFTC commissioner Rostin Behnam.

The COP Presidency hosted its own roundtable on the VCM, at which UNFCCC Executive Secretary Simon Stiell was reported as saying “No developing country who wants to use voluntary carbon markets should be left behind,” while World Bank president Ajay Banga and US climate envoy John Kerry also weighed in with strong words of support.

The UN Development Programme launched a High Integrity Carbon Markets Initiative this afternoon, at which the organisation called for increased transparency and reliability. The meeting recognised the work of the ICVCM and VCMI, but emphasised that integrity also includes co-benefits, and carbon markets need to work for host countries, NDCs and sustainable development goals.

Six independent carbon standards – Verra, Gold Standard, ACR, Climate Action Registry, Global Carbon Council and Architecture for REDD+ Transactions – announced this morning a collaboration “to increase the impact of activities under their standards”.

Among other goals, the standards “seek to align our certification with common principles for quantification and accounting” and to “encourage the provision of information on credit use to enable credible voluntary claims and compliance uses of carbon credits”.

And it didn’t end there: VCMI, SBTi, GHG Protocol and ICVCM, together with CDP and We Mean Business, said they will cooperate on establishing an end-to-end integrity framework that provides consistent guidance on decarbonisation. They didn’t issue a joint statement, but instead released this infographic on YouTube.

In Washington, the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission approved proposed guidance and issued a request for public comment regarding the listing for trading of voluntary carbon credit derivative contracts. You’ll find CFTC chairman Behnam’s comments here, and the CFTC statement as well as a link to the proposed guidance here.

Carbon Pulse reported that the Republic of the Congo – not the Democratic Republic of Congo – is actively seeking to quit the VCM in favour of Article 6. The country is rich in REDD+ potential and is a member of the Coalition for Rainforest Nations that has been pushing to bring REDD+ into the Article 6 mechanisms. The Congo representative referred to this in her speech in the opening plenary as well, suggesting that bringing REDD+ into the Article 6 fold could even release enough funding to allow Congo to become a donor to the Loss & Damage Fund.

Another interesting Carbon Pulse story reported that Forest Trends, Wildlife Works and Everland are backing a new REDD+ standard that will be run by countries in the global south. The three have come together in the Equitable Earth Coalition and are looking to establish projects in the Democratic Republic of Congo – not the Republic of the Congo – and Brazil.

Finally, we came across this really useful compilation of all the major reports and documents published during COP28, from organisations ranging from the OECD to WMO. Something to bookmark!


Article 6 negotiations continued today with a joint 6./6.4 session.

Parties shared different views on topics related to the review process on sequencing, inconsistencies and confidentiality.

With multiple issues still to be covered and discussed by tomorrow, Parties decided to stay until 11pm tonight to provide comments on the sessions about the scope and definition of cooperative approaches (6.2). Tomorrow, they will have two hours to cover common nomenclatures, application of first transfer, registry, and financing issues.

Overall, our team got the impression that there has been relatively little progress in the last 24 hours.

There were rumours floating around this afternoon that one developed country Party is asking to reopen the Article 6.4 Supervisory Body’s recommendations document, rather than adopt it wholesale, but we understand that any discussions over whether to re-open the text will take place next week after SBSTA has closed and the proceedings are taken up by the CMA.

UPDATES: We included some links to the various Article 6 side events in yesterday’s email, but by the time you opened the mail, they were already dead links. So, to refresh, here are updated links 🤞!

Dec 3: IETA official side-event on the evolving voluntary carbon market
Dec 3: Towards operationalisation of Article 6, with ERCST
Dec 3: Article 6.4 Supervisory Body side-event

Coming up on Tuesday at IETA’s COP28 Business Hub

IETA’s COP28 side event programme resumes on Tuesday at 0800. Many of the events hosted at the IETA Business Hub will be webcast – just click on the link by each event to participate! All event times are listed in Gulf Standard Time, which is three hours ahead of Central European and two hours behind Singapore time.

0800-0930: Treading Responsibly: Charting a Decarbonisation Strategy, with Apollo Tires and FICCI. Event webcast.

0830-1000: Breakfast Roundtable: Unlocking Innovation to Lead in the Energy Transition (in the IETA Lounge), with Meade Harris (Dynamo Hub Energy), Rebecca Schulz (Canada), Lisa DeMarco (Resilient), Amy Harder (Cipher), Page Crahan (X Moonshot), Dana Perkins (Bloomberg NEF) and Loan Tran (ExxonMobil). This event will not be webcast.

0930-1100: Net Zero in Action: Showcasing Decarbonisation Technologies, with Charbel Moussa (KPMG), Brian Sullivan (IPIECA) and invited speakers. Event webcast.

1100-1230: Mobilizing Finance for Nature-Based Solutions Projects in Africa, with Gediz Selin Kaya (Mundo Verde Climate), Samuel Abu Jinapor (Ghana), Roselyn Fosuaa Adjei (Ghana), Margaret Kim (Gold Standard) and Francisco-José Fortuny Carod (Asian Infrastructure Development Bank). Event webcast.

1245-1345: Integrity of Voluntary Carbon Market – From Theory to Reality, with Alfredo Nicastro (StoneX), Alex Saer (Cercarbono), Judith Simon (Verra), Craig Ebert (CAR), Margaret Kim (Gold Standard), Mary Grady (ACR) and Yousef bin Mohammed Al Horr (Global Carbon Council). Event webcast.

1400-1530: Decarbonisation in the Transportation Sector, with Andrei Marcu (ERCST) and Renato De Filippo (ENI). Event webcast.

1700-1830: Adapting to the Escalating Consequences of Climate Change, with Richard Klein (Stockholm Environment Institute), Patrick Verkooijen (Global Centre on Adaptation), Helmy Abouleish (Sekem Group), Razan Al Mubarak (UNFCCC), Emma Cox (Pricewaterhouse Coopers) and Gim Huay Neo (WEF). Event webcast.

1830-1930: Driving Global Industrial Decarbonisation: The Potential of Carbon Markets, with Matthew Harwood (Climate Investment), Torleif Haugland (ICA Finance), Dan Wicks (GHGSat), Pedro Martins Barata (ICVCM), Nick Osborne (Shell), Mauricio Bermudez Neubauer (Accenture), Gaurav Burman (75F Middle East Trading LLC) and Mark Kenber (VCMI). Event webcast.

Don’t forget you can see the full programme overview (as well as all COP28-related IETA content) on our COP28 online hub!