Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to join political, religious, and civic leaders in Dubai for COP28. Conference of the Parties or COP28 is the largest annual climate conference hosted by the United Nations. This conference brings together 200 countries to decide climate solutions together and make ambitious international targets.

Another important aspect of COP is bringing researchers and activists who lead important work and campaigns together with politicians. I had the opportunity to moderate a session on health inequality. We know the climate crisis disproportionately impacts the most vulnerable in our society. From poorly insulated homes becoming mouldy to living in areas with higher air pollution – communities and countries most impacted by the climate crisis live shorter lives, have increased health risks and disease, as well as the psychological impact on health and wellbeing due to pressures caused by the climate crisis. It was important for me to moderate a session with professionals and leaders in the field from countries across the world where we could discuss solutions to these key issues.

It is a great accomplishment that the Loss and Damage Fund finally had financial commitment from a number of countries. This Fund will allow the countries most vulnerable to the climate crisis, particularly those in the global south, to not only mitigate but adapt to the growing crisis. Adaptation was a key issue raised at COP27 last year in Egypt and I am hopeful this Fund will support this. However, like many, I have concerns the Fund falls short of offering enough finance. The $700 million committed is about .2% of what is needed. I also share concerns countries may change the agreement to be loans not grants and countries may struggle to access funds from The World Bank.

As COP28 comes to a close today, I urge every country, including the UK, to be ambitious. We need climate action immediately and we need to not only reduce fossil fuels, but phase them out rapidly. We know the coming years are crucial to slowing down climate change and unless countries are ambitious and serious about a commitment to be more green, we will have an even larger global issue.

I will continue to work hard on these issues and work both nationally and internationally to encourage a greener, fairer planet for all.

Afzal Khan MP with Bangladesh Health Minister Zahid Maleque at COP28
Afzal Khan MP with Bangladesh Health Minister Zahid Maleque at COP28
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