A new opportunity to accelerate the climate transition


By Pere Joan Pons, OSCE PA Vice-President and Special Representative on Climate Change

Originally published at Medium.com, 8 December 2023

With COP28 — the world’s largest and most important annual gathering on climate change — taking place right now in Dubai, it is a good time to take a moment to recall the obvious. As repeated regularly by UN Secretary General António Guterres, reiterated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and recognized by the members of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly where I serve as Special Representative on Climate Change, if we do not accelerate an energy, climate and social transition that allows a drastic reduction of our emissions — and if we do not do so jointly, co-ordinated and without leaving anyone behind — present and future generations are going to witness the collapse of our planet’s ecosystem.

COP28 once again puts two fundamental elements on the table. First, the need to reach not only ambitious global agreements but also local, regional, national, and individual commitments. There should be a change of global models and individual lifestyle behaviors. They cannot go separately, nor can they dissociate. Personally, I believe that we must activate efforts at all scales with the involvement of public and private funds. All efforts count.

Second, decarbonization efforts between countries cannot be asymmetric. They must go in parallel. At the same time the payment for this transition should not translate into more social inequality caused by an a la carte transition that means that rich countries make developing countries pay the toll of a new digital and green economy model.

Finally, we must be brave and reiterate the danger of the skeptical and denialist approach to climate change and transition that is present in political narratives in many of our countries. Combating this discourse of denying a scientific reality must also be one of the priorities in the coming years. In order to demonstrate that we all take our responsibility seriously, policymakers and business leaders must reduce their own carbon footprints, implement green practices within parliaments, governments, and businesses and take concrete measures to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

In the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, more than 320 parliamentary political representatives from 57 countries have two objectives: keep climate transition high on our national political agendas, and of course help catalyze change in the countries where more than one billion people live, from Vancouver to Vladivostok.

Parliamentarians are uniquely positioned to assess the progress towards cutting greenhouse gas emissions and ensuring that government and industry live up to their promises. This oversight function of parliaments is becoming more paramount this year, when the first Global Stocktake of the 2015 Paris Agreement is taking place and new Nationally Determined Contributions are required.

With the critical role that parliaments play in tackling climate change through effective legislation, green budgeting and holding governments to account, parliamentarians must be involved into UN climate processes in order to accelerate decarbonization and ensure robust climate action. Without the engagement of parliamentarians, it is impossible for the agreements signed by heads of state to translate into action, and without action, our planet is doomed.

This is why we need more political will than ever, and at all levels: the international, national, and subnational. This is why we need parliaments to perform aggressive oversight to ensure implementation of the 2015 Paris Agreement. This is why international commitments must translate into increased funding, rapid innovation, and drastic changes in the face of an emergency that is happening now. For the sake of our children’s futures, let us not fail in this colossal responsibility.

Pere Joan Pons, a Member of Parliament from Spain, is Vice-President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and Special Representative for Climate Change.



Nat Parry

Head of Communications and Press

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