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COP28: everything you need to know as climate change conference kicks off in Dubai

  • Curtailing the use of fossil fuels and carbon emissions are expected to be topping the agenda of the 13-day summit
Published November 30, 2023
Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

Thousands of delegates from some 200 countries have descended on Dubai this week to attend COP28, perhaps one of the biggest conferences in the world that aims to tackle climate change. It will run from November 30 to December 12.

Curtailing the use of fossil fuels and carbon emissions are expected to be top of the agenda during the 13-day summit.

The conference is taking place as the world reels from floods, heatwaves and wildfires. NASA has also said the summer of 2023 was Earth’s hottest since global records began in 1880, making climate change and global warming more crucial now than ever before.

What is COP?

COP stands for Conference of the Parties. It’s an annual meeting where United Nations member states convene to assess progress in dealing with climate change and make a plan for climate action within the guidelines of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The first COP was held in Berlin in 1995. Last year’s COP27 was held in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. This year the 28th iteration of the conference is taking place at Expo City Dubai.

The President-Designate of COP28 is Dr Sultan Al Jaber, who was appointed in January this year. He is also the UAE’s Minister for Industry and Advanced Technology and Special Envoy for Climate, along with being Group CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC).

Who is attending?

Officials say they expect over 70,000 attendees at the talks, including heads of state.

Among many high-ranking delegates that will be in attendance is Britain’s King Charles III. He is also expected to deliver an address at the opening ceremony.

The prime ministers of the UK and India - Rishi Sunak and Narendra Modi will also be in Dubai for the event.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Bill Gates may also be in town.

On the flip side, US president Joe Biden will not be attending while Pope Francis has had to cancel his trip due to an illness.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Syrian President Bahar Assad and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin also likely will not attend.

What can be expected at COP28?

For starters, Dr Sultan Al Jaber said he will “hold every country and every stakeholder accountable to keep the 1.5°C target within reach.”

He was referring to an internationally agreed upon benchmark that the world’s average temperature not go up by more than 1.5 degrees C to prevent potentially irreversible effects of climate change.

What’s more, according to Reuters, delegates hope to clinch an early victory on a climate disaster fund on Thursday before the summit turns its focus to fossil fuels and other divisive topics. The fund was agreed upon at COP27.

An early breakthrough on the fund - which poorer nations have demanded for years - could help grease the wheels for other compromises, the report said.

Adnan Amin, CEO of the COP28 summit, told Reuters the aim was to secure several hundred million US dollars during the event. He said he was “hopeful” that the UAE would make a contribution.

Another Reuters report said the toughest talks may be about the future role of fossil fuels, and whether countries should commit to start phasing out the use of CO2-emitting coal, oil and gas.

Meanwhile, this year will also see COP’s first ever ‘Trade Day’ which will bring together the public and private sectors to explore how trade policy can drive climate goals.

In a post on X, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi said the event, which will be held on December 4, “will put trade front and center of the global climate debate.”


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