COP28: It’s All About Transition

13th December 2023

looking down on a plant

This blog was written by Anthesis CEO, Stuart McLachlan and is part 7 of a series of insights on this years’ Conference of the Parties 28 (COP28) in the United Arab Emirates.

Every COP feels like there’s a hero’s journey to be experienced – it’s a bit Shawshank. The first few days are a descent into the brutal realities of the science, the annual reminder of how the world remains incarcerated in the strongholds of the old era with the leadership of the broken model fighting to retain control.

Then comes the hope that this isn’t a life sentence, as each COP moves into dreaming about life outside the walls. In the Shawshank Redemption we see our hero invest years in uncomfortable relationships with combatants to create an environment where escape and justice become possible, and culminate in the walls crumbling and the dreams realized. People at COP seeking climate action will come away feeling that any arrival on a beach in Mexico is a long way off. But the culmination of the hero’s journey – the dream that has galvanised such resilience, faith and hope for so many years – remains alive. That belief in the end of the journey – however remote it might seem, will be critical to success, and something I explore in my last post about COP tomorrow.

As everyone parses the final agreement for signs of hope, delegates have spotted the elephant in the room. Fossil fuels have been called out in the wording of the final agreement. In place of the problematic ‘phase out’ we now have ‘transition away from’, but I for one prefer this. It works better with the way I think we need to see the world. Let’s not talk about terminal decline but more about how we shift to a new era, and the more abundant treasures of the new.

It’s still not clear when we’ll be free of the seemingly all powerful grip of the fossil fuel lobby, but the direction of travel is clear, and COP28’s ‘transitioning away from’ signals real progress.

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