Reflecting on COP28 UAE and the Importance of Accelerating Climate Action

Dec 7, 2023 3:55 PM ET
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Arbor Day Foundation

By Dan Lambe

We are living in the climate era.

It’s one of the key messages I’ve been particularly struck by this week during COP28 UAE. It’s the idea that this period in time is defined by the climate crisis and our approach to addressing it will not go unnoticed. One day, our children will reflect on our decisions, our policies and our practices and they’ll analyze how we combatted these unprecedented challenges. Sitting among the countless leaders here at COP28, each motivated to accelerate climate action, I’m hopeful for the journey ahead.

It's been encouraging to see so many local government leaders descend on this global gathering. Mayors and city officials are making their voices heard, sharing insights on how climate change is impacting the economy of their cities and the health of their citizens. Thankfully, many of them have already identified trees and forests as a critical piece of their resiliency plan. Their passion and initiative to level up climate action in their cities—big and small—is an incredible reminder that this is everyone’s fight. We all have a role to play in battling climate change and its effects.

Of course, many of these local leaders are looking to larger entities for guidance. Federal governments and private corporations are having conversations right now about the pace of progress. In the last 15 years, we’ve undoubtedly taken steps forward in the fight against climate change. But the impact has been largely incremental. I’ve witnessed a certain amount of frustration this week about the nearly stagnant nature of climate action. More than ever, people are realizing we need large-scale change, and we need it now.

Among the discussions of how we achieve that change, leaders have emphasized the need to reduce the use of fossil fuels and limit carbon emissions. At the Arbor Day Foundation, we believe the voluntary carbon market can play a unique role in this effort, and there’s clearly been a refocusing of the mindset of the market and its major players. While at COP28, I’m hearing more governments and private sector leaders put a premium on quality. The attention to the credibility of forestry projects is higher than I’ve ever seen it. As the world’s largest tree planting nonprofit, this shift is exciting for the Arbor Day Foundation. Our organization is deeply rooted in quality and integrity, and we’ve spent more than 50 years crafting tree planting projects to deliver meaningful change. We’re eager to continue meeting and exceeding the increasingly high standards of the voluntary carbon market.

As we begin to close out the week at COP28 UAE, the Arbor Day Foundation team is keenly aware the work doesn’t stop here. We’re already reflecting on how we can take the learnings we’ve gleaned and the relationships we’ve grown to advance our collective goal of fighting climate change. We’re hopeful our fellow attendees will do the same.