Opening of the 28th Session of the Conference of the Parties. Video Credit: COP28 UAE

With a strong call for immediate global climate action, the most anticipated event of the year - COP28 – is finally here. Starting today (November 30), leaders from around the globe, over 160 of them, are gathering in Dubai to tackle the urgent climate crisis.

Here's the Day 1 coverage from the world's biggest climate event

COP28 Opening Press Conference.

Massive participation at COP28

Alexander Saier, Lead, Media and Digital Communications at United Nations Climate Change, who moderated the press conference, revealed massive participation on the first day of COP28.

He said the total number of participants stood at 104,652 at 4pm. “ We have 52,081 delegates from Parties, 19,132 observers and 3976 media.” Other participants include virtual participants, security and technical staff as well as volunteers.

UAE leadership hailed

Ambassador Majid Al Suwaidi, COP28 Director-General took the opportunity to thank the UAE’s leadership for the successful start of COP28.

Ambassador Majid Al Suwaidi, Director-General of COP28 climate conference.
Ambassador Majid Al Suwaidi, Director-General of COP28 climate conference.

“The success of this first day of COP is really thanks to the leadership of the UAE. And the reflection we have today is thanks to the guidance that we've received from them. They have always been pushing us to be as ambitious as possible.

And it reflects their approach to everything that they do in the UAE. They don't just talk about it, they deliver.”

COP28 raised $ 420 million on Day 1

Dr Al Jaber said Day 1 at COP28 reached more than double its target for the Loss and Damage Fund. The threshold set to establish and operationalise the Fund was $200 million, he said. “We reached more than $420 million in the first half. And I know that over the next couple of days, many more pledges and many more commitments are going to be made by these different heads of states and different heads of governments.”

Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, COP28 President addressing the media. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Real work begins

Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, COP28 President, says the real work now begins. “I am determined to demonstrate that this COP is different and this presidency is a different presidency. We are laser-focused on keeping 1.5 within reach and we are laser-focused on delivering the maximum highest ambition. I’m more confident than ever that we will deliver an unprecedented result. Our main focus is going to continue to be on translating visions and aspirations, and declarations and decisions and to real practical actions that will make a difference.”

COP28 president Sultan Al Jaber (right) and UNFCCC Executive Secretary Simon Stiell at the opening press conference.

Running start for UN Climate Conference

Simon Stiell, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC): Today's news on Loss and Damage Fund gives this UN climate conference, a running start. All governments, and then negotiators, must use this momentum to deliver truly ambitious outcomes here in Dubai. We must keep our eyes on the prize, and every minute counts. We need to work and build on what we have seen today, as we work through the 12-13 days that are ahead of us.”

Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

India hails positive momentum at COP28

India’s Minister for Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Bhupender Yadav, hailed the positive signal of momentum from COP28 in the UAE on the first day itself.

“Landmark decision on operationalisation of the Loss and Damage Fund was adopted in the opening plenary of COP28. India strongly supports the decision to operationalise the Loss and Damage Fund,” he said on X.

Japan to contribute $10 million

“We hope that the fund will be operationalised at the earliest timing so we can assist developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change,” said the Japanese envoy. She said, “This fund is about global solidarity and should be supported by various funding sources, including from countries that have the capacity to do so.”

What is the loss and damage fund?

Developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change are eligible to receive resources from the Fund. The Fund was established during COP27 and is today agreed upon at COP28.

US to contribute $17.5 million to climate disaster fund

US Special Envoy for Climate John Kerry said, “We’re committed to work with our Congress to provide $17.5 million specifically towards the fund for climate impacts response that will help vulnerable countries to respond to the impact. We also expect the fund to be up and running quickly; we expect it will help address priority gaps in the current landscape of support.” (United States of America: $17.5 million; $4.5 million Pacific Resilience Facility, $2.5 million for the Santiago Network)

UK to contribute $75.89 million

UK to to contribute up to GBP60 million (including GBP40 miilion for new fund) and a further GBP20 million for funding arrangements, including for early warning systems and disaster risk finance.

The delegate from the UK “This is a historic occasion and one that’s been a long time in the making. The UK was honored to play our part in the transitional committee. We need to channel this momentum to rest of the COP28 as we strive for ambitious outcome that keeps 1.5 in reach and supports the most vulnerable.”

Germany pledges $100 million

Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany Svenja Schulze said, “It is a ground breaking decision of solidarity for the most vulnerable. This decision you have taken enables the quick and effective operationalization of the new funding arrangements, including a fund. Now, we need to move from words to action.”

She added, “On behalf of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, like the UAE, the German government stands ready to kickstart the new fund with $100 million. Let’s deliver the same ambition on mitigation and adaptation.”

Ground-breaking agreement on loss and damage deal reached on COP28 Day 1

A long awaited deal on a loss and damage fund has been formally approved at the COP28 climate summit. The decision was met with a standing ovation from delegates. “The COP28 Presidency is committed to delivering outcomes for the climate vulnerable,” said Al Jaber. Following the approval of the fund, members took the floor to make pledges to the fund.

The launch of a climate 'loss and damage' fund drew praise and hundreds of millions of dollars in pledges at the UN's COP28 talks on Thursday, Nov 30. Image Credit: Dhanusha Gokulan, Chief Reporter

The UAE alone has committed $100 million to Loss and Damage, an important milestone in delivering for vulnerable communities and building resilience for people suffering the devastating impacts of climate change, according to a tweet from the official COP28 handle.

UAE to contribute $100m to loss and damage fund


The UAE is committing $100 million to Loss and Damage, an important milestone in delivering for vulnerable communities and building resilience for people suffering the devastating impacts of climate change.

“We’ve delivered history today. The first time a decision has been adopted on day 1 of any COP. And the speed in which we have done so is also historic.

Getting this done demonstrates the hard work of so many, particularly members of the transitional committee who worked tirelessly to get us to this point. This is evidence that we can deliver. COP28 can deliver. And colleagues, this now sets a clear ambition for us to deliver a comprehensive GST decision over the next 12 days.” COP28 President, Dr Sultan Al Jaber.

First day of COP28: Dubai welcomes world to Expo City - in pictures

COP28 Presidency's negotiation agenda approved

Parties to the 2023 UN Climate Change Conference have approved the COP28 Presidency’s Negotiations Agenda during the Opening Plenary of COP28. A key moment symbolising multinational unity in the face of climate change, and a critical step in the right direction to set the pathway towards climate ambition to be met.

Explained: Why 1.5°C is the magic number?

It’s the threshold to arrest the degradation of Earth and avert potentially devastating consequences. So Paris COP21 mobilised collective action to limit global temperature increase to 1.5°C by 2100.

To achieve that, the world must reach net zero missions — remove as much emissions as it is released into the atmosphere. The Paris Agreement includes a “ratchet mechanism”, asking countries to review their commitments every five years.

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Delegates attending COP28 within the Blue Zone at Expo City Dubai.

UNFCCC announces roadmap for parties

"Early in 2025, countries must deliver new Nationally Determined Contributions. Please start working on them now," Stiell told parties at COP28. He announced the submission of Biennial Transparency Reports by countries in 2024, a finance goal at COP29, and new Nationally Determined Contributions by early 2025. He said COP30 will become the pivotal moment where all commitments align with a 1.5-degree world.

Stiell says the UNFCCC has reformed the badging system. “The badges around your necks make you responsible for delivering climate action here and at home. I am committing the UNFCCC to track all announcements made and initiatives launched. So that long after the cameras have gone, we can ensure our promises continue to serve the planet.”

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Executive Secretary Simon Stiell speaks during the opening ceremony of the COP28 United Nations climate summit in Dubai on November 30, 2023. Image Credit: AFP

Fossil fuels still in climate talks, says COP28 President 

COP28 President Sultan Al Jaber said NetZero 2050 goals cannot be achieved by keeping fossil fuel organisations out of the climate conversation. “This is the presidency that boldly chose to engage with oil and gas companies. We had many hard discussions that weren’t easy. Today, however, many of these companies are committing to cutting their methane emissions for the first time. National oil companies have adopted Net Zero 2050, and I’m glad they have stepped up to this game-changing journey. They (oil and gas companies) can do much more; they can lead the way,” he added.

“We must look for ways to ensure the inclusion of the role of fossil fuels. I know there are strong opinions against this, but we have the power to do something unprecedented. We have no choice but to go the unconventional way. We must work together, be flexible and find common ground. We have come forward with solutions and achieved consensuses,” said Jaber during this first speech as COP28 President. However, he assured delegates he would not lose sight of the North Star 1.5 degrees Celsius. “I will stay laser-focused on it,” he added.

Egypt hands over baton of responsibility for global climate action to the UAE

Sultan Al Jaber, Cop28 President
Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber declared Elected President of COP28.
COP27 president Sameh Shoukry (L) hands over the gavel to COP28 president Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber during the opening cremony of the COP28 United Nations climate summit in Dubai on November 30, 2023. Image Credit: AFP

COP27 President Sameh Shoukry gives opening remarks

COP27 president Sameh Shoukry speaks during the opening cremony of the COP28 United Nations climate summit in Dubai on November 30, 2023. Image Credit: AFP

"By establishing the loss and damage funding agreements, we showcased an unwavering commitment to enhancing global climate action," said Shoukry. "As we highlight the achievements of COP27, we need an assessment on where we stand today," he added,

Tributes pour in for climate veterans Pete Betts and Saleemul Huq

Pete Betts, the veteran British climate diplomat who played a pivotal role in brokering the landmark Paris Agreement at the UN climate talks in 2015, died aged 64, a year after receiving a cancer diagnosis. Saleemul Huq, who brought to global attention the need to adapt to climate change impacts and to pay for the loss and damage people suffered, died in Dhaka on the night of October2. He was 71. Delegates from the UK, the EU, and Bangladesh paid their respects.

The opening plenary of COP28 is now LIVE!

COP27 president Sameh Shoukry and other delegates observe a minute of silence during the opening ceremony of the COP28 United Nations climate summit in DubaiA moment of silence held for civilians who perished in Gaza

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A moment of silence held for civilians who perished in Gaza.

A moment of silence held for civilians who perished in Gaza.

Comment | Why COP28 in Dubai is important

Every climate conference is essential since the world is running out of time. COP28 UAE takes place in a year with extreme weather, making the meeting more urgent. This is a chance to assess and recommit to save the world.

Net zero (removal of as much emission as it is put into the atmosphere) has to be reached by 2050 to keep the global temperature rise below 1.5°C. Even that wouldn’t save the globe from extreme weather, but it would be far less devastating than if it was 2°C. So countries will have to make painful pledges to cut emissions drastically. No pain, no gain.

US, China to work together: Kerry

John Kerry
John Kerry, US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, rides in a cart ahead of the COP28 UN Climate Summit, Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023, in Dubai. Image Credit: AP

China and the United States - the world's two biggest greenhouse gas polluters - will work together at the UN climate talks in Dubai, US envoy John Kerry has said.

"Without China and the United States aggressively moving forward to reduce emissions, we don't win this battle," the former secretary of state said on the eve of the opening of COP28.

30 minutes to the opening ceremony

In under 30 minutes, the world’s biggest climate conference will open in Dubai. Dr Sultan Al Jaber will assume the role of COP28 President. Delegates hope to clinch an early victory on a disaster fund on Thursday before the summit turns its focus to fossil fuels and other divisive topics.

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The official opening ceremony will occur at 2pm.

UN chief: Aim for complete 'phaseout' of fossil fuels

Antonio Guterres, UN secretary general
Antonio Guterres, UN secretary general. Image Credit: AFP

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said the COP28 conference should aim for a complete "phaseout" of fossil fuels, a contested proposal supported by many nations and scientists that has dogged negotiations past.

"Obviously, I am strongly in favour of language that includes (a) phaseout, even with a reasonable time framework," Guterres said.

US Vice President Kamala Harris will be at COP28

Vice President Kamala Harris will represent the United States on behalf of President Joe Biden. “I am heading to COP28 in Dubai this week. I look forward to meeting with our allies and partners as @POTUS (US President Joe Biden) and I continue our work to deliver bold global action to address the climate crisis,” she confirmed on X.

Be mindful of food waste

Participants at COP28 are urged to be mindful of food waste, which is a global concern, to save the planet. Some of the tips displayed near the food stalls in the Blue Zone include avoiding food you don’t like, not overloading your plate, and starting with small portions. The information about the UAE Food Bank collecting safe-to-eat leftover food and distributing it to the underprivileged people is also displayed. Some of the food stalls are offering 100% plant-based food. “All dishes are produced with local plant-based meat alternative, derived from fava beans,” stated the display board at one food stall.

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A digital board near a food stall in the Blue Zone urges participants to avoid food waste. Image Credit: Sajila Saseendran/Gulf News

Some of the food stalls are offering 100% plant-based food. “All dishes are produced with local plant-based meat alternative, derived from fava beans,” stated the display board at one food stall.

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100% Plant based pesto chicken wrap available at COP 28 Blue Zone. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dr Sultan Al Jaber welcomes Chinese delegation to COP28

Free water bottle, Nol card

COP28 is championing sustainability in all aspects. There are no cups to take water from the dispensers kept across the Blue Zone. Fret not, for all Blue Zone accredited delegates can get free water bottles. They will also get a Nol card for free to travel around Dubai as the climate change summit is encouraging participants to use public transport, especially Dubai Metro. Delegates can collect these from the Blue Zone Service Hub.

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Free water bottle and NOL card are distributed to Blue Zone delegates. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

UAE President shares COP28 welcome message for international community

Sheikh Mohammed welcomes delegates to COP 28

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Inside UAE's House of Sustainability

Delegates arrive at COP28 Blue Zone

Go Vegan Please!

Around 80 climate activists from across the world are on the ground at COP28 to encourage participants to go vegan. They are distributing vegan sandwiches and diary-free cookies. Meat and dairy businesses are increasingly criticised for causing large emission of greenhouse gases. The dairy industry alone produces 3.4 per cent of the world's human-made emissions, even more than airplanes. Animals farming releases methane, a gas that is way stronger than carbon dioxide in warming the planet. If we don't act fast, scientists say that the methane from farming could make the world heat up by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, leading to a dangerous and irreversible climate crisis.

World flies down to Dubai

World flies down to Dubai to protect Earth from climate change. As many as 97,000 delegates including world leaders and climate agencies have registered to the Blue Zone and 400,000 visitors including UAE residents and climate champions from across the world have registered to the Green Zone at Expo City Dubai. Long queues of attendees trying to collect their badges can be seen on the first day. There are separate queues for those who have to collect their badges and those who already collected to enter the Blue Zone.

cop28 line

Contributed by: Dhanusha Gokulan, Chief Reporter , Sajila Saseendran, Senior Reporter, Anjana Kumar, Senior Reporter, Shyam A. Krishna, Senior Associate Editor, Alex Abraham, Senior Associate Editor , Ashfaq Ahmed, Senior Assistant Editor, Virendra Saklani, Chief Visual Journalist , Clint Egbert, Senior Visual Journalist , Evangeline Elsa, Social Media Editor , Surabhi Vasundharadevi, Social Media Reporter, Irish Eden Belleza, Senior Visual Editor, Biju Mathew, Online Editor , Lekshmy Pavithran, Assistant Online Editor, Nathaniel Lacsina, Senior Web Editor and Christian Borbon, Senior Web Editor