COP28: ‘A step in the right direction but we needed a leap’

COP28: ‘A step in the right direction but we needed a leap’
13 December 2023

By the IFRC

(This story is a news release that appeared first on the IFRC website earlier today.)

The Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is warning that communities will suffer due to a lack of urgency expressed in the final text of the COP28 summit.

While welcoming much of the agreement, Jagan Chapagain warns it does not go far enough, fast enough and that financial commitment is lacking to meet the needs of communities.

Reacting to the agreement, Chapagain said: “This agreement is a step in the right direction but we needed a leap. The establishment of a loss and damage fund and progress on the global goal on adaptation are both welcome.

“It’s good, too, that there’s some improved language on mitigation. But this is not yet backed by the necessary finance, and everything is happening far too slowly.

“We need to be focused on reaching those who need action most. Communities are suffering now. They need action now.”

The IFRC is particularly keen to comment on three areas of the agreement. On mitigation, whilst the text may have moved further than before, the current actions outlined will not be enough to keep the planet below 1.5 degrees of warming.

If – or when – we pass this threshold, the humanitarian consequences will be dire. We will see more intense, frequent and overlapping extreme climate and weather events destroying homes, lives and livelihoods, with sea-level rise taking away people’s land and ways of life.

Good intentions

On adaptation, the agreement on targets and a framework for the global goal on adaptation is welcome and encouraging. However, communities need more than good intentions.

To achieve adaptation targets, build resilience and reduce vulnerability, financial backing is needed, and now. We call on parties to quickly move beyond the doubling commitment on adaptation, to truly close the gap.

Adaptation must also reach the communities who need it most, many who are currently getting left behind. In a positive move forward, COP28 recognized this challenge and proposed action in a new declaration on climate, relief, recovery and peace.

This declaration commits to “substantially scale-up financial resources for climate adaptation and resilience building … in situations of fragility, conflict, or severe humanitarian needs”. The important – and hardest – part will be putting these words into action.


And on loss and damage, one real success of COP28 was establishing a formal fund, but that structure now needs funds.

While current commitments get the fund off the ground, they are a tiny fraction of what’s needed. This also needs effective coordination, with wider funding arrangements to identify gaps and reach people in need.

The IFRC supports communities to prepare for and react to extreme weather and climate-related hazards all over the world. Those hazards are getting more frequent and worse.

In just the last two weeks alone, while COP28 has been underway, Red Cross staff and volunteers have been helping people following floods in Kenya, Angola, Ethiopia, the Dominican Republic, and Tanzania.

Families and communities are already dealing with the very real impacts of extreme weather and as climate change gets more severe, those needs will grow exponentially. We therefore remind the world that words are never enough.

We need action; a great leap forward in action.

The COP28 closing plenary today in Dubai. (Photo: Mahmoud Khaled/UNFCCC)