‘No time to lose,’ warns EU climate chief ahead of Dubai conference

The upcoming United Nations COP28 climate conference in Dubai’s Expo City should intensify global efforts against climate change because “the window of opportunity is closing,” warns European Union climate chief Wopke Hoekstra.

“We have to do more and faster,” Hoekstra said, highlighting the pressing need for accelerated action, citing warnings from scientists and climate action reports.

The EU Commissioner for Climate Action was speaking in an interview with journalists, including EFE, after the UN warned that current commitments under the Paris Agreement could result in a temperature rise of 2.5–2.9 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

This underscores the immediate need for heightened climate action since the Paris Agreement aims to limit global warming to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius, possibly even closer to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Hoekstra, who assumed the role of EU climate commissioner in October, will lead EU negotiations at the COP28 Summit starting on Nov. 30 in Dubai.

Over the past month and a half, he has engaged in diplomatic efforts across 13 countries, including Brazil, Chile, Spain, and Saudi Arabia, participating in 55 meetings with various stakeholders.

“There is no alternative but to continue on the ambitious path that Europe is on and do much more in the coming decade to ensure that we build bridges with the rest of the world,” he said.

Despite the EU being responsible for only 7 percent of global emissions, Hoekstra stressed the necessity of broad consensus among countries, companies, and citizens for successful climate action.

Hoekstra carries a negotiation mandate from the 27 EU countries, demanding a tripled renewable energy capacity by 2030, a doubled energy efficiency rate, and limited hydrocarbon subsidies.

The EU’s objective is to persuade the global community, including oil-producing nations, to shift away from fossil fuels, particularly coal.

Financing remains a key issue, with negotiations ongoing for a loss and damage fund to cover the impact of climate change on vulnerable states.

Regarding China’s role, Hoekstra advocated for contributions, emphasizing that the loss and damage fund should benefit those most in need, particularly in Africa.

“What I told our partners in China last week (…) is that everyone who can pay should do so,” said Hoekstra, who met China’s Special Envoy on Climate Change last week to prepare for the climate change conference in Dubai.

The European Union has committed to a “substantial contribution” to the fund, with the exact amount and composition yet to be disclosed.

The COP28 climate negotiations coincide with geopolitical tensions, including Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Israel’s military offensive in Gaza.

“If you look at what has happened in the last six or seven years, things have become infinitely more difficult,” Hoekstra said. “Results need to be achieved, and there is no time to lose

By Muhammad Umair