Outcomes of COP28

Finally dealing with the 'elephant' in the room

Flooding in the River PO, Italy
Honorable Mention, Freshwater - 2023 TNC Photo Contest Winner Flooding - The River PO in Italy © Gianluca Gianferrari / 2023 Global Photo Contest

As the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP28 closes in Dubai, now is the time to truly reflect on what we have seen unfold at an international level. We wanted to see a shift from words to action, and until the very last minute we thought there wouldn’t be any meaningful progress coming out of this year’s conference,

However, what negotiators agreed to on Wednesday morning is a strong step in the right direction. Calling for a global transition away from all fossil fuels in the final text signals governments are finally open to dealing with the elephant in the room. It also sends investors and consumers the signal they need of a clear commitment to net zero for the global economy. This is a milestone we should acknowledge.

A range of other significant commitments also came out of the past two weeks, including the recognition of the contribution of forests, oceans and other ecosystems towards climate mitigation and adaptation. 

The power of nature in fighting climate change and the importance of harnessing that power is no longer a secondary theme, it is a key element of plans to reduce our emissions and adapt to the effects of climate change.

It was a relief to see progress on nature-based solutions, resilient food systems, ocean-based adaptation and resilience, and targets to halt and reverse deforestation by 2030, but we need stronger commitments from countries to ensure nature contributes to climate efforts to its full potential.  

Our determination to harness the collective power of communities, Indigenous knowledge, science and adequate financing to take action without delay remains as strong as ever. Around Australia, together with our partners and communities, led by our science, we already work on innovative and inclusive projects that put nature at the centre of efforts to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change. From the living shoreline of Wagonga Inlet, NSW, to Indigenous-led conservation efforts across Australia, from protecting ecologically-significant land to restoring carbon-storing coastal ecosystem in South Australia, we already know what works. We need to do more of it, faster. We need to scale-up what we know works, now.

We need governments, investors and civil society to invest in nature and help deliver results from the ground. We do not have time to wait for another COP.