Lisa Sullivan of the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns reports from Dubai. This page will be updated on a regular basis during COP28, Nov. 30 - Dec. 12, 2023.
TUES 12 DECEMBER
Read our report on COP28 Outcomes and register for our webinar "COP28 Outcomes and Next Steps" scheduled for Wednesday, December 20, at 10:00-11:00am Eastern Time. The webinar will feature three people with first-hand accounts on all that happened in Dubai: Lisa Sullivan and Sr. Susan Nchubiri, MM, of the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, and Dr. Gina Castillo, Climate Policy and Research Advisor at Catholic Relief Services.
MON 11 DECEMBER
Today is our last day in Dubai and the sense of anticipation mixes heavily with the smoggy sunshine. By tomorrow as COP comes to a close, we should know if world leaders have found the courage to make the only decision that will guarantee all of our grandchildren a livable planet: a commitment to phase out fossil fuels.
While global press focuses its narrow lens on that group of 198 people – one from each of the world’s nations, there are some 84,000 others of us here as well. And, we have not been holding our collective breaths to watch them crawl to the finish line.
While too many thousands have come to lobby for their fossil fuel companies, negotiate a corner of a rainforest, or peddle improbably technologies that promise to magically disappear greenhouse gases like a reverse Puff the Magic Dragon, many other thousands have come from around the world with another goal. These are the students, scientists, farmers, frontline communities, artists, pastors, teachers and indigenous at COP28 to inspire, push, prod, do whatever it takes, to get the world to move forward to solve this climate catastrophe.
No matter what the official outcome of the conference may be, we leave inspired and motivated by those we met on rich and wonderful sidelines of COP 28. Here we share a bit of that flavor.
Side events: Presentations are given throughout the two weeks organized by participating organizations who collaborate to bring key climate topics to discussion. Indigenous land defenders, Pacific Islanders, , youth leaders, climate migrants, land defenders, scientists, economists, and so many others shared from experiences around the globe. Strategies such as the Fossil Free Non Proliferation Act were shared, intersections of biodiversity loss and climate change were explored. Climate migrants showed how they can be innovators rather than victims, small farmers shared agroecology strategies that assure food production in climate change while reducing agricultural emissions. And so so much more.
Country Pavilions: Each country is given space to do with what they want. The United States hosted forums on business opportunities and high tech approaches to mitigation, while Madagascar hosted panels on adaptation to cyclones and farming strategies for drought. How different is this climate crisis being loved out in different nations.
Actions: Each day a very limited set of corners of the venue are set aside for “actions that most be planned petitioned explained and controlled. But this is where the passion and creativity and inspiration happen! Art, theatre, song and dance converge among “artivists." Nurses lined up to revive a globe whose beating heart is failing, calling attention to health issues caused by climate change, Giant keys are carried to ask to unlock Climate funding, A roaming flame wanders throughout the venue reminding all of what we are all about. Country names and flags are not allowed to be used to criticize but could be named if it were to honor. Thus, each day ended with the uproarious “Fossil of the Day “award” granted to the best fossil fuel friendly country of the day’s negotiations .
Climate was the focus of the conference but hearts and minds were with the suffering in Israel-Palestine. The slogan "ceasefire now” was written, sung, shouted, chanted, drummed and pleaded in almost every corner of the venue. Connections were drawn to a global system that abuses the rights of people and planet.
Late this afternoon a plenary session was held by the presidents of COP 27 and 28 to share advances. They are not nearly enough and time is running out. In the midst of their efforts to pat themselves on their backs a young teenager jumped up and shouted that they were doing nothing while her people were dying. She was escorted by three security guards out of the room.
As I write I do not know her name or where she is. But I do know that she is the bravest person I saw today among so so many other brave people who have dared to come to Dubai. It is they who have inspired me to dare to continue giving my hours and days to this struggle for our most beloved Common Home. Let us pray that world leaders may be half as brave as she.
FRI 8 DECEMBER
We are off and running at the start of the second week at COP28. So many actions, meetings, side events and still some negotiating. As members of CIDSE, we speak in one voice with Caritas Internationalis to call for a phase-out of all fossil fuels in a new joint press release. "The international networks of Catholic social justice organizations, Caritas Internationalis and CIDSE, urge negotiators and world leaders attending the Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai to work for a just and bold agreement that ensures the phase-out of all fossil fuels, gets the planet on track to achieving the Paris Agreement and deliver financial support to communities being impacted by climate change."
We attended several protests which are very controlled. No country name can be mentioned. So, for example, a young speaker from Japan identified herself as from the “Land of Pokémon.” Topics at these protests include the need to cancel climate debt, increase climate finance, end the use of liquefied natural gas and all fossil fuels, and a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war.
WED 6 DECEMBER
We have reached the half-way point in the two-week UN Climate Change Conference COP28 in Dubai. Find out what has happened so far, including an invitation to sign on to a "Faith for Climate" statement, and see more photos in Lisa Sullivan's COP28 Midway Report.
MON 4 DECEMBER
While the president of COP 28 has spoken against the phase out of fossil fuels, we continue to advocate for their reduction anyway. Here is a photo of a banner worn by a conference participant.
The US announced 3B commitment to the Green Climate Fund. Other countries announcing commitments as well.
At the side events, there have been debates about food systems since 30% of GHGs come from food systems
SUN 3 DECEMBER
Pope Francis delivered an inaugural message for the COP 28 Faith Pavilion. Watch his full message to faith leaders on the Vatican YouTube page.
SAT 2 DECEMBER
Sr. Susan Nchubiri, MM, delivered a letter to the representatives at COP28 titled The Moral Case for Action on Loss and Damage, with the signatures of over 600 high ranking faith leaders, including 200 religious sisters.
Lisa Sullivan, who assisted in the making of the letter, also spoke at a side event.
FRI 1 DECEMBER
Lisa Sullivan will speak at a side event on Loss and Damage at the Madagascar pavilion tomorrow and Sr. Susan Nchubiri, MM, will hand over the faith leaders statement to UNFCCC reps and negotiators from Global North and South at the Faith Pavilion. This is significant because one can "sense the open dialogue yet deep divide between negotiators from the Global South and Global North."
COP 28 began on the right foot with a vote to accept the Loss and Damage fund proposal negotiated over the past year by the Transitional Committee of 24 (10 from developed countries, 14 from LDC). And on Sunday, Pope Francis will inaugurate the Faith Pavilion virtually Sunday. We are still hopeful for what is to be done.
THURS 30 NOVEMBER
Lisa Sullivan and Sr. Susan Nchubiri, MM, have arrived in Dubai! (Seen here, pictured at the airport.)
Maryknoll is participating in the first ever COP Faith Pavilion, "a dedicated space for different religions, traditions, and perspectives to come together at COP28 to achieve a better future for planet Earth and humanity." The Faith Pavilion now has a YouTube page where viewers can follow along with the events.
WED 29 NOVEMBER
Lisa Sullivan and Sr. Susan Nchubiri, MM, of the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, are on their way to COP28! Stay tuned for updates from them at the conference which begins on Nov. 30.
Joining Our Partners
The UNFCCC Climate Change Conference (COP28), will take place in Dubai (United Arab Emirates) from Nov. 30 to Dec. 12. Two Maryknoll representatives will be present. They will join the CIDSE delegation, consisting of Secretariat staff and representatives of its member organizations: CAFOD (England & Wales), Fastenaktion (Switzerland), KOO (Austria), Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns (USA), Misereor (Germany), SCIAF (Scotland) and Trócaire (Ireland). They will join partners and allies from the Global South and the Global North to urge world leaders to take bold, transformative decisions by rapidly phasing out all fossil fuels (coal, oil, and gas) and addressing the worsening impacts of climate change, including loss and damages, to address the root causes of climate change.
Bringing the Catholic Voice
Inspired by Laudate Deum, Pope Francis’ recent exhortation to all people of good will on the climate crisis, and reinforced by his support for COP28, we are working closely with other Catholic actors such as CIDSE and the Laudato Si’ Movement to make the Catholic voice heard at COP28. We will also join events at the ‘Faith Pavilion’, the first of its kind organized at a UNFCCC Conference of the Parties.
Our Priorities for COP28
- Fast, full and fair phase-out of fossil fuels (coal, oil, gas) and their subsidies, beginning with historically and currently large and wealthy polluters, to assure 1.5°C temperature limit by 2050.
- The tripling of renewable energy that is fair, safe, and human rights compliant.
- Follow-through on climate finance commitments to developed countries by mobilizing $100 billion per year.
- Operationalization of a Loss and Damage Fund fit-for-purpose that is accessible, comprehensive, restorative, representative, efficient and effective.
- Inclusion of food systems and food security in climate negotiations. Steps taken to include this issue at COP 27 must move forward.
- Strong US leadership: As the world’s wealthiest country and largest historical carbon emitter, the US must lead on emissions reduction and scale up contributions to international climate funding.
Program of Events
THU 30 November
“Informal Interfaith Gathering in the Spirit of Talanoa Dialogue @COP28”, 15:30 – 20:00 local time, Watch online. Organized by the Interfaith Liaison Committee to the UNFCCC
FRI 1 December
Official handover of the Faith Leaders’ statement “Loss and Damage: the moral case of action” to the COP28 Presidency. Co-organized by Caritas Internationalis, CIDSE, Laudato Si Movement and SCIAF. Faith Pavilion. Time TBA.
TUE 5 December
Official side event: “Addressing Non-Economic Loss & Damages through a shared understanding of Human Development & Ecology”, 13:15 – 14:45 local time, SE Room 7, Blue Zone, Expo City. Co-sponsors: Caritas Internationalis, Holy See
Official side event: “Equity and Justice in the Loss and Damage Fund: What COP28 needs to deliver?”, 15:00-16:30 local time, SE Room 7, Blue Zone, Expo City. Co-sponsors: CIDSE, Christian Aid, ActionAid International, Maryknoll Sisters of Saint Dominic Inc., SCIAF
WED 6 December
Side event: “Increasing trust and transparency for a socially just energy transition under the Paris Agreement”, 14:30-15:15 local time, Faith Pavilion, Blue Zone, Expo City. Co-sponsors: CIDSE, Fastenaktion, Misereor. This event will be livestreamed.
SAT 9 December
Global climate march
Side event: “Faith in action for climate justice in addressing Loss and Damage”: 14:30-15:30 local time, Faith Pavilion, Blue Zone, Expo City. Co-sponsors: CIDSE, Church of Sweden, Christian Aid KOO, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, SCIAF. This event will be livestreamed.