Bhutan prepares for COP28 with ‘Road to Dubai’ Symposium

The world is running out of time to prevent the Earth from getting much hotter. Efforts to limit the rise in global temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial average are failing. With the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP28, coming up in about a month, the Bhutan Ecological Society organized its annual symposium called “Road to Dubai: The Bhutan Story at COP28” in the capital last week. The symposium aims to bring the voices of Bhutan to global leaders and climate decision-makers at COP28.

Bhutan is at a critical point in its development and it’s about to see the fruits of its earlier investments. However, the Bhutan Ecological Society warns that this progress is at risk due to climate change.

During the symposium, attendees emphasised the importance of sticking to the global temperature rise limit set in the 2015 Paris Agreement.

The symposium also brought attention to the differences between the commitments made to tackle climate change and the actual steps required to fulfil those commitments.

The Department of Environment and Climate Change has invited the Bhutan Ecological Society to establish a Bhutan Pavilion at COP28 in Dubai.

“The pavilion serves as a space where beyond the government, the many other societal stakeholders involved in climate action, such as civil society observers, the UN, our development partners, corporations and academia, and young people get a space to convene and put forward a vision of the future,” said Namgay Choden, the climate solutions strategist of Bhutan Ecological Society.

The pavilion’s theme is “Sustaining Carbon Neutrality,” focusing on community action, energy transition, food and water security, and carbon stewardship messages.

Namgay Choden, who participated in the COP27 summit in Egypt last year, believes that the Bhutan Pavilion provides an opportunity to engage in discussions with global leaders.

“We want to go to the COP28 and tell the world that we need your help. We must increase ambition, overall. This has to do with the amount of climate finance that richer countries are committing to the different funds such as the Global Environment Facility or the Green Climate Fund for example. But we are also going to tell the world that the world also needs countries like Bhutan that would continue to champion the environment,” said Namgay Choden.

As a part of the symposium, the society organised a lecture attended by about 30 experts and 70 participants, including college students.

The discussions during the lecture focused on subjects such as climate action, climate adaptation, and mitigation, as well as climate finance. These topics will be explored in more depth at the Bhutan Pavilion in Dubai.

“The fact of the matter is not everyone here will be able to go there. So, the idea was to create these smaller conversations here. This is not only an opportunity to introduce a wider public to the UNFCCC and the COP process, but also to get real insights from the ground about what the priorities for Bhutan are and what some of the things and the stories that we should be taking,” said Namgay Choden.

COP28 will take place at Expo City in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, starting on November 30 and concluding on December 12.

The Conference of Parties, COP, is the highest global authority for making decisions related to the climate crisis.

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