Climate change is a pressing global crisis that transcends national boundaries, requiring international cooperation and concerted efforts from everyone, including individuals like all of us.
With the United Arab Emirates preparing to host COP28 in just a few weeks, we have put together a comprehensive explainer to answer all your questions about this year’s most significant climate conference.
Whether you’re curious about understanding the COP process, are contemplating attendance, or simply want to understand how to engage in this major event, we’ve got you covered. Read on to understand the historical significance of COP, what to expect at COP28, and what you need to know to actively participate in this crucial dialogue on climate action.
What is a COP?
The Conference of the Parties (COP) is the main decision-making body of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). It brings together the 198 Parties –197 nations plus the European Union – that have signed on to the Framework Convention.
The inaugural COP gathering took place in Berlin, Germany, in March 1995, and today the COP secretariat is headquartered in Bonn. COPs are hosted annually in different countries, under the auspices of the UNFCCC, with the UAE hosting COP28.
Why is COP important?
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. 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.
How does the COP Presidency rotate?
The COP meets every year unless the Parties decide otherwise. The COP Presidency rotates among the five recognized UN regions – Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, Central and Eastern Europe and Western Europe and others. This rotation ensures that different corners of the world have the opportunity to host and showcase their commitment to addressing climate challenges.
When is COP28 UAE?
The COP28 conference will take place from 30 November to 12 December 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.
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 organizations, 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.
This support includes offering technical expertise, analyzing climate change data reported by Parties, assisting with the Kyoto mechanisms’ implementation, and maintaining the registry for Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement. The secretariat also organizes and supports multiple negotiating sessions each year, as well as COPs.
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, this entered into force in 2005, with 192 Parities signing up to it and it remains a historic landmark in the fight against climate change
What is the Paris Agreement?
The 2015 Paris Agreement, adopted at COP21, marked the next major milestone in UN-led multilateral climate action. It mobilized 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 and irreversible and permanent effects, like rising sea levels displacing populations, are expected to increase significantly unless we take substantial action to curb global temperatures. Scientists have reached a global consensus: we must 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.
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 us all.
How will COP28 be structured?
COPs are organized into two distinctive areas called the Blue and Green Zones.
What is the 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 the 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, NGOs, 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.
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.
What is the COP28 Presidential Action Agenda?
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 program for COP28. It is the first Presidency to hold an open consultation on thematic areas and sequencing. The program 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 organizations to ensure their contributions are included throughout the programs and outcomes. COP28 will also host a historic number of parliamentarians, mayors and local leaders.
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.