100 days to go for COP28: All you need to know about the climate conference
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Countdown starts for COP28 in the UAE: All you need to know

Countdown starts for COP28 in the UAE: All you need to know

The COP28 organisers have called the upcoming conference an inflection point for global climate action

Marisha Singh
COP28 president designate

The UAE is gearing up to host the 28th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28) in Dubai. As of date, there are just 100 days to go before the start of the climate summit.

The COP28 organisers have called the upcoming conference an inflection point for global climate action.

“We are at a halfway point. It has been seven years since Paris, with seven years to go to 2030…We need to reduce emissions by 43 per cent by 2030 and course correct on adaptation, finance and loss and damage,” reads the introduction on the COP28 website.

To understand the importance of this climate conference, here’s all you need to know.

COP background

COP is the main decision-making body of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). It includes representatives of all the countries that are signatories (or ‘Parties’) to the UNFCCC.

COP assesses the effects of measures introduced by the Parties to limit climate change against the overall goal of the UNFCCC. The UNFCCC is an agreement between 197 countries of the United Nations. The agreement is to “stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations at a level that would prevent human-induced interference with the climate system.”

The first COP meeting was held in Berlin, Germany in March 1995. The COP meets in Bonn, the seat of the secretariat, unless a Party offers to host the session.

How often does COP take place?

COP happens every year, unless otherwise agreed by the parties. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 COP26 was postponed until 2021.

COP26 was hosted by the UK in Glasgow, while Italy organised a range of pre-COP sessions and events in Milan. COP27 was hosted by Egypt in Sharm El-Sheikh.

What happens at COP?

COP meetings revolve around negotiations and debates. The aim is to review progress towards the overall goal of the UNFCCC: to limit climate change.

Sometimes, COP will result in new agreements and binding treaties, like the Kyoto Protocol.

A key part of COP meetings is to review the contributions of each of the Parties, detailing how they are tackling climate change.

Members who are also party to the Paris Agreement will submit Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). These are plans by each country to reduce their emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change to meet the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement.

What is the Paris Agreement?

The Paris Agreement is the first legally-binding global treaty on climate change agreed in COP21 in Paris in 2015.

Since 2015, under the Paris Agreement, almost all countries in the world have committed to:

  • Keep the rise in global average temperature to ‘well below’ 2 degrees Celsius, and ideally 1.5 degrees Celsius, above pre-industrial levels.
  • Strengthen the ability to adapt to climate change and build resilience.
  • Align finance flows with ‘a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development’.
  • Commit to a path to become net zero

Who goes to COP?

The attendees at COP are representatives of governments or ‘observer’ organisations, like charities. The United Nations manages all attendees at COP.

The 197 Parties to the UNFCCC are broadly organised in five regional groups:

  •  Africa
  •  Asia
  •  Eastern Europe
  •  Latin America and the Caribbean
  •  Western Europe and Other States (including Australia, Canada and the USA)
  • The COP presidency and host of the next COP meeting usually rotate between these groups.
  • These regional groups are also represented on the UNFCCC Bureau, which acts in an advisory role to the current COP President.

Various other groupings of parties, such as ones representing Arab States, the European Union and Small Island states, also exist within the UNFCCC.

Which country will host COP28 in 2023?

Just as the COP Presidency rotates among the five recognised UN regions – that is, Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, Central and Eastern Europe and Western Europe and Others – there is a tendency for the venue of the COP to also shift among these groups.

This year the COP28 meet will be hosted by the UAE which also holds the presidency.

In a letter dated January 13, 2023, the UNFCCC Secretariat announced that Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and UAE Special Envoy for Climate Change, has been appointed to serve as COP 28 President-Designate.

When is COP28?

The 2023 UN Climate Change Conference will convene from November 30 to December 12 2023.

It will comprise:
• the 28th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 28);
• the fifth meeting of the COP serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA 5);
• the 18th meeting of the COP serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 18);
• the 59th meeting of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI 59); and
• the 59th meeting of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA 59).

Where is COP28 happening?

The COP28 will be held in the city of Dubai in the UAE. The venue is Expo City which was previously the site of the 2020 Expo.

What is Global Stocktake?

The first Global Stocktake of the implementation of the Paris Agreement will conclude at COP28.

Each stocktake is a two-year process that happens every five years, with the aim of assessing the world’s collective progress towards achieving its climate goals.

The first Global Stocktake takes place at the mid-point in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its SDGs, including Goal 13 (climate action).

It will be preceded by a mandated workshop on the elements of the outcome of the GST in October in the UAE.

What to expect at COP28?

In a letter to parties dated July 2023, the incoming Presidency announced that COP28 will focus on four paradigm shifts:
• Fast-tracking the energy transition and slashing emissions before 2030;
• Transforming climate finance, by delivering on old promises and setting the framework for a new deal on finance;
• Putting nature, people, lives, and livelihoods at the heart of climate action; and
• Mobilising for the most inclusive COP ever.

The letter written by Dr Jaber to the Parties also outlines a three-fold vision to course correct that includes a negotiated outcome, an action agenda, and a call to action.

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