1.5C global heating and a view from Kenya

With news that global heating may pass the 1.5C threshold this year, last November’s COP28 takes on a new level of significance. We look at recent reporting and hear from one of our Choice Ambassadors, Dorcas Wakio, who attended December’s conference in Dubai.

A former NASA scientist, James Hansen, has this week warned that the Earth’s average temperature may reach 1.7C more than before industrialisation in 2024, higher than the internationally agreed target of 1.5C.

This would not be in itself a breach of the target, as that requires years of this average temperature. However, where most climate scientists tend to suggest that this milestone will likely take place in the 2030s, Hansen believes that it may already be happening.

It was The Paris Agreement in 2015 where international governments agreed to take steps to limit the increase in average global temperatures to 1.5C. This was reaffirmed in Dubai last year, although the language “transition” from fossil fuels was adopted to replace “phase out”. Despite the agreements, 2023 was the hottest year ever recorded and more carbon was emitted into the atmosphere than ever before.


We were pleased to assist one of our Choice Ambassadors, Dorcas Wakio, to attend COP28. Here she reports on how she found the conference.

My experience at COP28 in Dubai was incredibly diverse and impactful. I actively participated in various high-profile events, including attending a Next Gen Leaders meeting, engaging in an insightful dinner with the Founder of Pad Movement, and exploring the intersection of fashion culture and sustainability. 

I contributed my perspective on critical topics such as the climate, gender and conflict nexus, highlighting both challenges and solutions. I shared insights on the pledged loss and damage fund in an interview and participated in discussions on advancing legal and regulatory principles for energy transition and finance.  

As a speaker, I addressed the importance of adaptation finance and delved into the role of law as an enabler of nature-based solutions for climate change. My engagement extended to interfaith dialogue, exploring Christian-Muslim perspectives on climate change, and attending sessions on sustainable action in cities.  

PM Choice Ambassadors Dorcas, Nyombi and Joan at COP28

I actively networked with various entities, including a meeting with Global Witness, participation in the Global Climate Action March, and engagement with the Commonwealth Secretary General. I discussed pressing issues like water scarcity in Africa and what needs to be done among other amazing activists.

I also had an amazing interview alongside Nyombi Morris and Joan Kembabazi as Choice Ambassadors of Population Matters, as we explored the challenges of increased population and what can be the solutions to reduce overpopulation. 

I was also able to take part in private sessions with influential figures, like US Senator Edward John Markey, where we expressed our worries if they don’t accordingly phase out fossil fuels. I also had an opportunity to chat with the daughter of our President, Charlene Ruto, about my restoration projects of Mangroves

Although the expectations for our leaders to bring forth change in terms of phasing out fossil fuels weren’t fully reached there is still hope to see change in the system as we progress. I envision the inclusion of youth in the decision-making rooms as a powerful catalyst for transformative change. With a belief that young voices bring fresh perspectives and innovative solutions and that our voices matter. 

We also had other wins, such as a breakthrough with Mangrove, which will provide a framework for state and non-state actors to work together towards a global science-based target of securing the future of over 15 million hectares of mangroves globally by 2030, underpinned by $4bn of sustainable finance, in support of the Paris Agreement and Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework. The Collective action will focus on: 

  • halting mangrove loss,
  • restoring half of recent losses,
  • doubling the protection of mangroves globally, 
  • ensuring sustainable long-term finance for all existing mangroves. 

All said and done, I am grateful for the support from Population Matters, which allowed me the opportunity to attend Cop28 2023. This gave me a platform to establish meaningful connections and networks, fostering collaborations that will bring about impactful changes in both my personal life and my organization. Reflecting on the conference I can say I have grown as a climate activist.  


Dorcas Wakio is an environmental and climate activist from Ukunda, Kenya. To find out more about her work, please follow her on Twitter.

The views expressed in guest blog posts do not necessarily reflect the opinions and position of Population Matters.


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