Water, fossil fuels and decarbonising travel: What will be the key climate issues in 2023?

2023 will see the first global UN water conference in almost 50 years.
2023 will see the first global UN water conference in almost 50 years. Copyright Li-An Lim
By Rebecca Ann Hughes
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2023 will see the first global UN water conference in almost 50 years.


Climate change was one of the most significant issues in 2022, both for the pledges made to curb its impact and for the disastrous effects it had on the planet.

At COP27, important progress was made with loss and damage funding for vulnerable countries. And at the COP15 biodiversity conference, nations agreed a landmark deal for nature.

But the immediacy of the climate emergency was also made brutally clear by the devastating floods, wildfires and storms that battered communities around the globe.

As we enter 2023, these are the big climate issues the world is facing.

Where will Europe get its energy supply?

As geo-political conflict and tensions continue, there will be increasing pressure on fossil fuel supply and cost for Europe.

Prices of oil and gas in particular look set to rise in the new year, which means the challenging winter is not over.

The positive side is that this will lead to greater investment in green energy, according to the nonprofit We Mean Business Coalition.

The group, which aims to accelerate the transition to a net-zero economy, says companies choosing not to make the switch will be left behind.

Can the world eliminate the use of all fossil fuels?

At the COP27 climate change conference, the final text declared that coal use would be phased down.

Many environmental groups now want policymakers to alter this to a phasing down of all fossil fuels.

“Without that we cannot limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius,” says We Mean Business Coalition.

How can we protect the world’s water resources?

Water is going to be one of the key environmental issues in 2023, and next year will see the first global UN water conference in almost 50 years.

The summit will take place in March 2023.

“It will be a vital milestone to drive action on water, which is critical to mitigate the climate crisis, embed resilience and strengthen communities,” says Emma Wilkinson from Greenhouse, a digital communications agency driving social and environmental impact.

How can we make a positive impact on nature?

This year ended with the COP15 UN biodiversity conference that highlighted the urgent action needed to combat nature loss.

For We Mean Business Coalition, 2023 will see businesses making high quality investments in nature as well as cutting emissions across their activities.

The travel industry is also encouraging concrete, positive actions to safeguard and rebuild nature.

For example, hotels are being urged to ensure water and food supplies are sustainable and to limit vehicle use to reduce noise pollution.


Can the travel industry be decarbonised?

Throughout 2022, there has been a surge in the popularity of rail travel.

Travellers have opted to take the train over carbon-heavy flights and rail companies have launched dozens of new routes.

Meanwhile, some EU countries have taken small steps to limit unnecessary air travel, with France and Belgium cracking down on private jets and short haul flights.

Next year will see a continuation of this trend while the aviation industry continues to work on decarbonising the sector.

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