COP28 will be the 28th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), to be held in the United Arab Emirates from 30 November to 12 December 2023. It provides a major opportunity for world leaders to discuss their global warming mitigation attempts, set targets, and debate issues such as funding renewable energy.
It follows exactly a year on from COP27, held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. That meeting produced several landmark decisions, including a loss and damage fund that was agreed for the first time, along with the admission that emerging markets should be compensated for the historic emissions of the West. However, no agreement was reached on the bigger issue of phasing out fossil fuels.
The series of conferences began with COP1 in Berlin in 1995 to kick-start attempts to combat climate change through global emission reduction agreements, culminating in the Kyoto Protocol at COP3 in the Japanese city in 1997. Further annual meetings gradually added agreements that led to the creation of emissions trading platforms (COP7), the Green Climate Fund (COP16) and the Doha Climate Gateway extending the Kyoto Protocol (COP18).
Progress in Paris
The most significant and enduring meeting was COP21 at which the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015. The Agreement seeks to limit global warming to a maximum of 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2100 and ideally to limit temperature rises to 1.5 degrees. It was signed by all 196 nation members of the UNFCCC and remains the global benchmark for tackling climate change.
No formal agenda has yet been set for COP28, though discussions are likely to center on the ‘ratcheting process’ for setting new emission reduction targets, following a global stock-take of the current targets and achievements. This global stock-take forms part of the Paris Agreement and will take place every five years, starting in 2023.
Staging the conference in the UAE has already attracted criticism, since the country is the world’s seventh largest oil producer.