COP28 UAE will be a milestone moment for the world to unite around tangible climate action and deliver concrete solutions. Achieving this requires collaboration across civil society, government, industries and all sectors of the economy. Image Credit: Reuters/file

Dubai: When it comes to climate crisis, every action matters because the world is facing unprecedented impacts from a warming planet — record-breaking wildfires, catastrophic floods, and unbearable heatwaves.

2023 is set to be the world’s warmest in 125,000 years, European Union scientists said earlier this month.

The first report card on climate progress — named the Global Stocktake 2023 — issued in September, this year, showed exactly how far behind we are in our climate ambitions. The fight to secure a livable future for everyone on Earth requires much more urgent climate action — and only transformational changes across systems will be enough to get back on track.

That was the sobering assessment from the technical dialogue of the United Nations’ report, a critically important process, which looks at what countries have done to prevent climate catastrophe. “While action is proceeding, much more is needed now on all fronts,” the UN report said. We need dramatic actions to benefit our climate and we need them now.

COP28 is the world’s chance to level up.

With just a week left for this year’s biggest climate conference, here’s everything you need to know:

What is COP28?

COP28 stands for 28th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP), the main decision-making body convened under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), a multilateral treaty adopted in 1992.

It is an annual meeting where UN member-states convene to assess progress and make a plan for climate action within the guidelines of the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change).

COP meets in a different city every year to demonstrate the importance of collaboration from nations across the globe with the overall goal of fighting climate change.

The inaugural COP gathering took place in Berlin, Germany, in March 1995, and the COP secretariat is headquartered in Bonn. COP27 was held in Sharm Al Sheikh, Egypt, last year.

How can I be involved?
Members of the public can take part in Green Zone activities by expressing their interest and registering at https://www.cop28.com/en/get-involved.

For further information, you can stay updated by visiting www.cop28.com and following the social media channels https://twitter.com/COP28_UAE; https://www.instagram.com/cop28uaeofficial; https://www.linkedin.com/company/cop28uaeofficial/
These sources will provide the most current details about the event.

Yes, visitors must register. All information is available on the COP28.com website.

When and where will COP28 be held?

The COP28 conference will be held from November 30 to December 12 at Expo City Dubai.

COP28 UAE will be a milestone moment for the world to unite around tangible climate action and deliver concrete solutions. Achieving this requires collaboration across civil society, government, industries and all sectors of the economy.

Since the Paris Agreement was adopted in 2015, COPs have focused on implementing it and making progress towards its aims of restricting global warming to “well below 2°C” and “pursuing efforts” to keep it to 1.5°C.

Why is COP28 important?

For nearly three decades, the UN has been bringing together almost every country on Earth for global climate summits — called COPs. In that time climate change has gone from being a fringe issue to a global priority - 2023 was a record-shattering year. COPs serve as the formal meeting place each year for the Parties to negotiate and agree on how to tackle climate change, reduce emissions and limit global warming.

The COP28 conference will be held from November 30 to December 12 at Expo City Dubai. Image Credit: Shutterstock

A primary task at COPs is the examination of national reports and emission inventories submitted by participating countries. These reports offer essential insights into each country’s actions and their progress toward achieving the overarching goals of the Convention. The world is looking to the United Nations conference in the UAE to put us on a safer path.

What is climate change?

Climate change refers to long-term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns. Such shifts can be natural, due to changes in the sun’s activity or large volcanic eruptions. But since the 1800s, human activities have been the main driver of climate change, primarily due to the burning of fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas.

Burning fossil fuels generates greenhouse gas emissions that act like a blanket wrapped around the Earth, trapping the sun’s heat and raising temperatures.

The main greenhouse gases that are causing climate change include carbon dioxide and methane. These come from using gasoline for driving a car or coal for heating a building, for example.

Clearing land and cutting down forests can also release carbon dioxide. Agriculture and fuel operations are major sources of methane emissions. Energy, industry, transport, buildings, agriculture and land use are among the main sectors causing greenhouse gases.

What are Green Zone Hubs? What to expect during your visit to the Green Zone?
Green Zone is a space managed and delivered by the COP28 Presidency. It is a hub of action for all climate-conscious individuals.
The Green Zone will serve as the central hub for action and will welcome all attendees.
It will be open to the public, private sectors, media, youth, NGOs, as well as delegates and guests of the UNFCCC-managed Blue Zone for two weeks.

The Blue Zone will be open to accredited party and observer delegates and will host formal negotiations.
The Green Zone will be a space where collective action can transform climate policy into concrete outcomes. With an all-hands-on-deck approach, it will accelerate the energy transition, building upon a legacy of driving impactful initiatives and advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). COP28’s mission in the Green Zone is to translate insights and ideas into meaningful impact.
Dedicated hubs across Expo City Dubai will give climate curious individuals opportunities to get inspired, learn, develop new skills, and collaborate to co-create and accelerate climate solutions.

These spaces of discovery include:
ENERGY TRANSITION HUB: The Energy Transition Hub will be a place for connecting, collaborating, and sharing insights, strategies, and solutions to combat climate change. It will provide a platform for leaders and innovators to showcase their sustainability plans and create strategic partnerships that accelerate progress toward net zero.

KNOWLEDGE HUB: The Knowledge Hub will serve as a platform to bring together NGOs, UAE government ministries, local government entities, and their partners. It will offer thematic experiences focused on the most important climate challenges and solutions. It will also provide a relaxed networking area with ample seating and grab-and-go food and drinks options.

CLIMATE FINANCE HUB: The Climate Finance Hub will be at the centre of COP28’s transformative mission, hosting key players of the financial industry. It will be a dynamic space for discussions and commitments on topics like carbon markets, green capital, and global finance, energy transition pathways, and a just and fair transition for emerging markets and developing economies. It will help chart the course towards a greener, more resilient future, where global finance is redefined through a new framework for lasting impact.

TECHNOLOGY & INNOVATION HUB: The Technology and Innovation Hub will be where cutting-edge technologies and progressive thinking will converge to create innovative solutions aimed at tackling climate change and keeping 1.5°C within reach. It will act as a catalyst and help enable governments, businesses, and civil society to collaborate and leverage climate technologies to address the most pressing issues.

STARTUP VILLAGE: The Startup Village will be a dedicated space within the Tech and Innovation Hub, featuring over 100 climate tech startups. This village will be open to the public, allowing them to engage with these startups and learn about the latest climate technologies.

HUMANITARIAN HUB: The Humanitarian Hub will raise awareness about the humanitarian impacts of the climate crisis and inspire action to address climate-related risks. Curated and operated by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) on behalf of the Inter Agency Standing Committee (IASC), the hub will feature initiatives from diverse partners and stakeholders, with a focus on smaller and local organisations, civil society groups, and representatives of affected communities.

YOUTH HUB: The Youth Hub will provide an inclusive, safe space for young people to host events, share and debate ideas, and explore climate change solutions from a youth lens. Curated and operated in partnership with the Youth Climate Champions and in collaboration with the Federal Youth Authority, it will be a one-stop-shop for networking, relaxation, and hosting cultural activities.

GREENING EDUCATION HUB: In partnership with the UAE Ministry of Education, the Greening Education Pavilion — also known as Erth, Legacy for the Land of Zayed — will bring together government officials, policymakers, experts, students, educators, schools, universities and public and private entities. They will discuss, learn, and share knowledge on climate education, guided by the Greening Education Partnership Framework.

Who can participate in COP28 UAE?

COP28 UAE will be one of the largest and most important international gatherings in 2023, followed closely around the world.

As the world’s highest decision-making process on climate issues, COP28 is expected to host over 70,000 delegates, including heads of state and world leaders, to build consensus and facilitate progress on climate action among parties, delegates and thousands of non-government organisations, companies, youth groups, and other stakeholders.

What is the UNFCCC and what does it do?

The UNFCCC secretariat is the United Nations entity tasked with supporting the global response to the threat of climate change. The secretariat was established in 1992 when countries adopted the UNFCCC, and was originally based in Geneva, Switzerland, before moving to Bonn in 1996.

The secretariat initially focused on facilitating intergovernmental climate change negotiations. However, today, it plays a crucial role in supporting various bodies to implement the Convention, the Kyoto Protocol, and the Paris Agreement.

A pre-COP28 event was held in Abu Dhabi. Image Credit: Afra Alnofeli/Gulf News

What has happened since COP began? What is the Kyoto Protocol?

In 1997, at COP3 in Kyoto, Japan, ‘developed’ countries committed to limit and reduce greenhouse gas emissions — the first legally binding agreement on emissions. Known as the Kyoto Protocol, the agreement took effect in 2005, with 192 Parities signing up and it remains a historic landmark in the fight against climate change.

What is Paris Agreement?

The 2015 Paris Agreement, adopted at COP21, marked the next major milestone in UN-led multilateral climate action. It mobilised global collective action to pursue efforts to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels by 2100, and to act to adapt to the already existing effects of climate change.

The agreement asks countries to review commitments every five years; provide financing to developing countries to mitigate climate change, strengthen resilience and enhance abilities to adapt to climate impacts.

Why is it important to keep 1.5°C within reach?

The frequency and intensity of extreme weather events such as wildfires, torrential monsoons, and irreversible and permanent effects, like rising sea levels displacing populations, are expected to increase significantly unless substantial action is taken to curb global temperatures. Scientists have reached a global consensus: To limit the world’s average temperature rise to 1.5°C (equivalent to 2.7°F) above preindustrial levels to secure our future. This threshold is critical in preventing further degradation and avoiding potentially irreversible consequences.

190608 temperature
Temperatures passed 50 degrees Celsius (122 Fahrenheit) in northern India as an unrelenting heatwave triggered warnings of water shortages and heatstroke. Image Credit: AFP

To hold the planet’s long-term average temperature to below the 1.5-degree threshold, the world will have to reach net zero emissions by the year 2050, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) from the United Nations. This means that, in terms of the emissions released by the burning of coal, oil, and natural gas, the entire world will have to remove as much as it puts into the atmosphere.

What is the Global Stocktake?

The Global Stocktake (GST), as outlined in Article 14 of the Paris Agreement, is a systematic process designed for nations and stakeholders to see where they are collectively making progress in achieving the objectives of the Paris Climate Change Agreement — and where they are not. This assessment involves a comprehensive review of all aspects related to global climate action and support, enabling the identification of shortcomings and the collaborative development of solutions, both for the immediate future and beyond 2030.

COP28 is of particular significance as it marks the conclusion of the first GST since the Paris Agreement. Governments will take a decision on the GST at COP28, which can be leveraged to accelerate ambition in their next round of climate action plans due in 2025.

How has the UAE supported the COP process?

Situated in a region where heat is extreme and water is precious, the UAE has long viewed climate change as a challenge that must be overcome. Since its inception in 1971, the UAE has supported the global climate agenda, ratifying both the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement. COP28 President Dr Sultan Al Jaber has attended 11 COPs and led the UAE’s engagement at COP21 in Paris.

As a regional leader in the energy and sustainability sectors, the UAE has grown and diversified its economy, creating knowledge, skills and jobs for its young people, while contributing practical solutions to a global problem that affects all.

How will COP28 be structured?

COPs are organised into two distinctive areas called the Blue and Green Zones.

What is Blue Zone?

The Blue Zone is a UNFCCC-managed site that is only open to UN-accredited participants. There is an online registration system for accreditation. People who can attend the Blue Zone are: world leaders, representatives from 198 Parties (countries); official observers (UN Agencies; IGOs & NGOs); and media.

It will host the formal negotiations across the two weeks of the conference, as well as the World Climate Action Summit, Global Climate Action Hub, pavilions, presidency events, and hundreds of side events, including panel discussions, roundtables and cultural events.

What is Green Zone?

While the Blue Zone is closed to non-UNFCCC accredited individuals, the Green Zone is managed and delivered by the COP28 UAE Presidency, and is open to everyone. It offers a platform for different groups, including youth groups, civil society, non-governmental organisations, the private sector, and indigenous people to have their voices heard, promoting dialogue and awareness about climate action.

The Green Zone will have curated content programming, aligned with thematic days, conferences, panel discussions, talks, presentations, and more.

It will also have a Youth Hub – a place for youth to discuss, collaborate and network on climate change solutions.

Situated in a region where heat is extreme and water is precious, the UAE has long viewed climate change as a challenge that must be overcome. Image Credit: Shutterstock

A Civil Societies Hub will host presentations, activations and discussion on the part civil societies play in climate change solutions.

There will also be Arts and Cultural Programming that will demonstrate climate change and solutions through various art mediums.

There will also be three distinct hub themes for sponsors and partners to showcase ideas, solutions and innovation.

Do you need to register to visit the Green Zone?

Yes, visitors must register. All information is available on the COP28.com website.

The COP28 Presidency conducted one of the most extensive engagement and listening tours of any presidency, along with the first ever open consultation for the two-week agenda at COP28.

Its Action Agenda is guided by a single North Star: Keeping 1.5°C within reach.

The GST has shown us that we must reduce 22 gigatons of emissions before 2030. To hit these 2030 targets, we need urgent and decisive action at COP28.

To achieve this, the COP28 Presidency developed its Action Plan with four key pillars:

* Fast-tracking a just and orderly energy transition;

* Fixing climate finance;

* Focusing on people, nature, lives and livelihoods and;

* Fostering inclusivity.

What is the COP28 Presidency responsible for?

The COP28 Presidency has been playing the lead role in the preparations for the summit, rallying countries across the world to raise their ambition, to make new promises and deliver on old ones.

What are the themes of COP28 and what do they mean?

The COP28 Presidency has taken an innovative and inclusive approach to the two-week programme for COP28. It is the first Presidency to hold an open consultation on thematic areas and sequencing.

The programme highlights the sectors and topics that stakeholders repeatedly raised during consultations, including both annual fixtures of the COP agenda such as energy and finance, and new, essential topics like health, trade and relief, recovery and peace.

The thematic days’ programming also incorporates four crosscutting themes that underpin effective, interconnected delivery: Technology & Innovation, Inclusion, Frontline Communities and Finance.

The COP28 Presidency has been working in collaboration with women, Indigenous Peoples, local communities, youth, people of determination, subnational actors and faith-based organisations to ensure their contributions are included throughout the programmes and outcomes. COP28 will also host a historic number of parliamentarians, mayors and local leaders.

Pakistan floods
Catastrophic floods devastaged many regions in Pakistan last year Image Credit: Reuters

Developing countries will be looking for one thing: Funding.

The issue of financial assistance from those most responsible for climate change to support those facing the worst impacts and highest adaptation costs has dogged climate negotiations for almost two decades. Developed countries have consistently failed to match the pledge made in 2009 to provide $100 billion per year in climate finance by 2020 to support climate action in developing countries. And even this is far less than what poorer countries will need to decarbonise their economies and adapt to the impacts of climate change, now estimated to be in the trillions of dollars per year.

The Summit for a New Global Financing Pact, held in Paris in June 2023, brought to the fore issues such as developing countries paying more to service their debts than they receive as climate finance. Developing countries demanded a restructuring of the World Bank and its affiliates; more concessional and grant-based financing; and debt cancellations for the least developed countries. These issues are almost certain to come up again at COP28.

How does proposed climate fund help countries hit by climate-driven damage?

The fifth meeting of a 24-member UN committee tasked with designing the new climate disaster fund concluded in Abu Dhabi early this month, with support for a “take-it-or-leave-it” deal that would make the World Bank the interim home of the fund and encourage — but not oblige — all countries to contribute to it.

A loss and damage fund would be the first United Nations mechanism dedicated to helping countries that have suffered irreparable climate-driven damage from drought, floods and rising sea levels. It would aim to divert billions of dollars towards nations that are “particularly vulnerable”. After months of contentious talks, negotiators produced recommendations for the fund that will be put to nearly 200 governments for approval at the annual UN climate summit COP28, from November 30 to December 12 in Dubai.