I just touched down in Dubai and am excited to where week two of the Conference goes. While here, I will be supporting the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF), an international partnership of Global South countries that are highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Over the summer, I had the opportunity to work with the CVF on their Capacity Building Fellowship as they prepared for the negotiations in Bonn and COP28.

Coming into the Conference, I am helping track three key negotiating priorities for CVF: the Loss and Damage fund, Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA), and the inclusion of fossil fuel phaseout/down language in the final agreement.

The parties seemed to reach an early agreement on a Loss and Damage fund, with several pledges for initial capitalization of the fund. I was somewhat surprised at how quickly that item was agreed to, especially since the amount pledged with the announcement of fund totaled only about $700 million, a fraction of the estimated annual costs already being imposed on LMICs by the impacts of climate change.

The second area I will be watching is the development of the Global Goal on Adaptation framework. From my conversations with CVF, this seems to be their top priority at this COP, as many of CVF countries are already facing droughts, floods, crop failures, and myriad other impacts that their populations need to become more resilient and adapt to, but often lack the capacity, technology, and/or financing for adaptation. However, the negotiations on how to adaptation goals, targets, and accountability mechanisms sometimes seem to move even slower than those on mitigation. In principle, mitigation is quite simple to define, whereas adaptation to climate change can, in theory, encompass everything from migration to building seawalls and more.

A draft text of the GGA was released yesterday, and while there seemed to be general agreement on the topline goal, many other areas were bracketed (meaning they were still under negotiation). A target quantification of the adaption finance gap, referring to the difference between the costs of adaptation and the availability of financing to meet those needs, was included in the draft GGA text but still bracketed, indicating that there is still disagreement on its inclusion.

I am excited to hear more about the state of play at the CVF briefings in the coming days. I also am looking forward to meeting several of the negotiators and youth delegates who went through the Fellowship and hear their impressions of COP28 and these negotiating tracks thus far. For many of them, this is also their first-time attending COP and they have backgrounds in activism or local governments. As someone who’s primary introduction to climate policy started at the local level, then at the US federal level, conference diplomacy still feels so opaque. I’m curious to witness the process and excited to see how it contrasts with those my earlier experiences in local and federal climate politics.