The Expo City Dubai, a sustainability icon, has been the venue for hectic climate negotiations for the past 12 days.
The Expo City Dubai, a sustainability icon, has been the venue for hectic climate negotiations for the past 12 days. Image Credit: Gulf News
Sajila Saseendran

Dubai: While I have covered various topics related to the environment, it wasn’t until the Pre-COP28 meetings in Abu Dhabi that the gravity of climate change’s impact on 8 billion people and their future generations became crystal clear to me. Delving into the details of the Global Stocktake and Loss and Damage Fund to keep global warming within 1.5C for the first time, I felt the weight of the task ahead.

My on-site coverage of COP28 commenced a day before the UN Climate Conference in Expo City Dubai when I attended the Majlis hosted by COP28 President Dr Sultan Al Jaber, UN climate chief Simon Stiell and other top leaders of COP28. This set the stage for intense reporting on global efforts to save our planet.

The real sense of being a global citizen hit me when reporting from the UN-controlled Blue Zone, protected by the UN Police, where I felt that I was bestowed with the role of a warrior of the world giving voice to multilateral efforts to save our mothership called Earth from burning and sinking.

From reporting high profile crime stories in India to the space journey of the UAE, my career has offered me enriching experiences. However, COP28 has been the most high-profile event that I’ve covered so far. I got the opportunity to cover world leaders’ speeches, the UN Secretary General’s press conference, and to interview top officials, climate experts and civilians concerned about protecting our planet. For the first time, I witnessed financial commitments to the tunes of millions and billions being made to save the world.

Live reporting meant rigorous work, sometimes exceeding 12 hours. On some days, I walked up to 10km a day. Working with 4,000 global media members under one massive tent offered a new experience and we made some new friends.

Dubai once again sent out the message that we are all one, no matter what language we speak or faith we follow and it is up to us to protect our planet.

Whether or not COP28 delivers a Global Stocktake that pushes for the phase-out or phase down of fossil fuel, I feel the onus is on individuals, families, and communities also to take stock of what we have been doing and what we should do to keep life on this planet. Small steps, from planting trees and ditching single-use plastic to opting for public transport and reducing fossil fuel dependence, become crucial. I will treasure the COP28 souvenir water bottle as a reminder to spread the message of keeping 1.5C within reach.

The journey continues, fueled by the lessons learned at COP28 and the hope that global cooperation will prevail in safeguarding our shared home.