COP28 is hosted this year by the UAE in Dubai against a backdrop of disappointing results in the recent Global Stocktake.

Progress towards delivering the goals set out in the landmark 2015 Paris Accord is not as fast as the planet and its eight billion people urgently need. 

But hope is not lost. We now have a far clearer idea of the policies and actions needed that can accelerate progress towards an effective transition.

COP28 presents an opportunity that the Parties simply cannot ignore – bringing proven accelerators of change to a scale that will fundamentally reshape the global economy on climate-safe lines.   

With the political will, anything is possible. Heads of state at COP28 need to provide clarity, issuing a uniform, ambitious and innovative vision for delivering a 1.5°C future.

And, so, Cambridge Institute of Sustainability Leadership is attending with eight key policy ‘asks’ of the Parties, designed to unlock private sector ambition and galvanise their participation in delivering the Paris Agreement goals. The CISL asks are summarised below, with the full briefing available here. 



Fossil fuels remain the single largest cause of climate change, accounting for over 75 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions and nearly 90 per cent of all CO2 emissions. Our modern economy has been built around their ubiquitous consumption, yet the science could not be clearer. Either we shift massively to renewable energy and other clean energy sources or we miss the scientific projections on which government commitments are based – namely, the peaking of emissions by 2025 and their halving by 2030.  

A commitment is not an end in itself, therefore CISL outlines the actions needed now:  

1. Agree ambitious and detailed global goals on energy efficiency and renewable energy capacity 

2. End fossil fuel subsidies  

3. Decarbonise electricity generation, then electrify everything possible 

4. Build out intra-linked and inter-linked power grids  

5. Invest in storage  

6. Innovate for hard-to-abate sectors

Rich nations have until 2034 at the latest to phase out oil and gas to give the world a 50 per cent chance of staying within the Paris goal of 1.5°C

International Institute for Sustainable Development


The short- and long-term effects of surpassing the 1.5°C target set out in Paris are well known, but accompanying them also comes a heightened risk of global hunger, mass migration, property damage, civil conflict and other highly worrying social impacts. As protectors of their citizens’ basic rights, Parties have an obligation to take meaningful action to prevent these existential threats. This will require standing up against vested interests that are urging for a continuation of the status quo or, at best, incremental transition measures over a long time. 

In practical terms, we advise:

1. Leverage the Global Stocktake

2. Provide an ambitious, clear and stable policy framework 

3. Ensure robust accountability and transparency

4. Require companies to publish science-based transition plans 

5. Remember people and nature. 

1.5°C is a limit, not a target

We Mean Business


Climate negotiators have historically treated the climate crisis and the nature crisis as if they were unrelated. This is a mistake, as it restricts opportunities for joint thinking and limits the development of combined policies or agreements. It is of course true that the planet’s limited natural assets are critical, both to meet people’s needs and to provide space for nature and biodiversity. Yet it is equally true that these assets provide a way to reduce rather than contribute to climate change.  

Specific actions to take:

1. Place nature at the heart of policymaking and regulation

2. Integrate nature into financial decision-making and close the nature financing gap

3. Develop shared approaches to natural assets like land and water that allow them to be managed in a way that protects and restores thriving ecosystems and communities

4. Shift industry practices and supply chains to address the drivers of nature destruction

Humanity is waging war on nature. This is suicidal... Making peace with nature is the defining task of the 21st century

António Guterres, General Secretary, United Nations


The commitment to establish an adaptation goal was agreed in principle in the 2015 Paris Agreement, pledging to “promote mitigation and adaptation ambition”, but still remains elusive. Discussions so far have concentrated almost exclusively on mitigation, due to a widely held concern that focusing on adaptation will limit Parties’ future ambition to cut greenhouse gas emissions in line with 1.5°C. But this is not an ‘either-or’ equation. Moreover, the cost of failing to adapt is counted not just in financial losses but also human lives. So, giving adaptation its due weight within the international climate effort is a moral and humanitarian imperative, as well as an essential step towards future economic stability and global prosperity. 

How to achieve a robust adaptation plan:

1. Provide the lead at a national level and deliver national adaptation plans

2. Provide a place-based approach that promotes local leadership

3. Ensure enough financial resources are available for adaptation

4. Strive to achieve mitigation and adaptation simultaneously wherever possible

5. Use nature to build resilience

As severe weather- and climate-related extreme events are expected to intensify further, it seems unlikely that the associated economic losses will reduce by 2030

European Environment Agency

bird's eye view photography of trees and body of water


Addressing the climate change challenge requires significant financial resources. The annual needs range between US$3 trillion and US$6 trillion until 2050 to meet the Paris Agreement, but the current architecture is insufficient in delivering financing at the needed scale and speed. There are also significant challenges in ensuring equitable financing flows to Emerging Markets and Developing Economies (EMDEs) and in diverting funds from high-emitting, low-resilience activities. Historically, the burden of climate finance has been on governments, but private capital markets are increasingly showing interest, presenting an opportunity to leverage public financing to mobilise private and drive resources towards building net-zero and nature-positive economies globally. 

Practical steps forward:

1. Support the Bridgetown Initiative

2. Support diverse financing models

3. Strengthen risk management and guarantees

4. Enhance data transparency

5. Incentivise and align criteria with the private sector

6. Promote collaborative platforms

The public and private sector, multilaterals, development partners all need to do more to help close the climate financing gap

Axel van Trotsenburg, Senior Managing Director, World Bank

bird's eye view photography of trees and body of water


COP28 needs to be remembered for the moment the world’s industrialised nations stood up and delivered on past climate pledges, notably the COP27 agreement to establish a fund for ‘Loss and Damage’ (L&D). For vulnerable developing countries –that have usually done the least to contribute greenhouse gases to the atmosphere – climate damage represents a deeply additional burden, and one they will struggle to cope with. Risk-sharing systems have a crucial role to play, as they create pools of shared capital sourced from public sectors, private and mutual insurance sectors, and financial market. And, so, the financial risks associated with climate events can be transferred from the Global South to insurance and capital markets, providing an important part of the emerging mosaic of solutions for L&D. 

What we're recommending to achieve this:

1. Include risk-sharing mechanisms to operationalise the L&D fund

2. Use risk modelling of pre-arranged finance systems to inform integrate adaptation and L&D interventions

3. Integrate interdependent global risk management mandates of climate policymakers with global and national financial system policymakers

Billions of people, lives and livelihoods who are vulnerable to the effects of climate change, depend on the successful delivery of the Loss and Damage Fund.

COP28 President

At the same time as actioning asks 1-6, it's imperative that two further asks become a common thread through all negotiations of the Parties to achieve a deliverable transition.



Successfully transitioning to a low-carbon economy rests on the coming together of many elements, from technological innovation and political ambition to industrial transformation and capital mobilisation. But, importantly, overlaying all these is the active participation of society as a whole. To bring people along with it. Ultimately, public participation and support lies at the heart of the transition, but individuals, households and communities are excluded from formal decision-making. It is therefore crucial that citizens’ voices are heard through public dialogue and social engagement. 

To achieve a people-centric approach, the Parties should adhere to the following step:

1. Engage people in the change

2. Support inclusive outcomes

3. Provide resources to support a just transition

4. Consider the needs of smaller sustainable enterprises

Ambitious climate action needs to pursue a just transition, with consent at all levels of our societies. That consent will come only if climate action is, and is perceived to be, genuinely and fundamentally fair.

Professor Jim Skea, IPCC Chair


A legacy of COP28 has to be a once-in-a-generation boost to another vital accelerator of climate action: innovation. Low carbon goods and services will form the bedrock of the green economy – an economy that promises millions of jobs and a healthier, more prosperous planet for all – but tomorrow’s breakthrough solutions will not appear magically. Innovation is the product of highly focused national industrial strategies and research ecosystems, structured to foster sharing of knowledge and cross-sector collaboration. However, we must be wary of attempts to present support for innovation as a pretext for current inaction – and it should be called out for the dereliction of moral and political duty that it is. 

To reap the benefits of innovation, the Parties must:  

1. Accelerate the deployment of proven technologies at scale

2. Speed up the development and deployment of promising new technologies

3. Remain open and attentive to innovations from non-traditional sectors

When I think of climate, I think of innovation... that's why I'm so optimistic about the future.

Joe Biden, 46th President of the United States