COP28 begins from 30 November to 12 December 2023, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) as the host.
The Conference of Parties is the 28th annual United Nations climate summit, “where the world comes together to agree on ways to address the climate crisis, such as limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C, helping vulnerable communities adapt to the effects of climate change, and achieving net-zero emissions by 2050” (About COP28, 2023).
Expected to attend are more than 70,000 delegates consisting of government leaders, business leaders, young people, climate scientists, Indigenous Peoples, journalists, and various other experts and stakeholders are also among the participants.
Parties here refer to the countries that signed up to the original UN climate agreement in 1992.
Importance of COP28
COP28, this year’s major climate summit, is critical in helping to keep the Paris Agreement of limiting global warming to 1.5°C. A consensus adopted by 194 parties (193 countries plus the EU) in the French capital on 12 December 2015, the treaty came into force on 4 November 2016.
Essential discussion during COP28 will be whether countries are working towards their pledges or promises towards meeting the Paris Agreement.
Since last year’s climate summit, COP27, close to 40 countries have put in new targets for reducing their carbon emissions. Still, even with these updated pledges, this will put the planet on a trajectory of above 2.0°C degrees of warming by 2100, according to an independent Climate Action Tracker.
Meeting the 1.5°C goal will entail a rapid emissions reduction in the next few years and slashing it by half in seven years or by 2030.
Ahead of the COP28, President Designated Sultan Al Jaber called on the oil and gas industry to rally around ambitious decarbonization targets as part of the COP28 Presidency’s Action Agenda to fast-track the energy transition and keep 1.5°C within reach.
During the 2023 Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition & Conference (ADIPEC) from 2-5 October 2023, Mr Jaber calls on industry to “step up, align around net zero by or before 2050, zero-out methane emissions, and eliminate routine flaring by 2030.”
He welcomed recent progress and action from over 20 oil and gas companies, including international and national oil companies (IOCs and NOCs), which have “positively answered the call” to take the challenging but achievable steps to curb emissions from energy production (COP 28 UAE, 2023).
“This industry can and must help to drive the solutions. For too long, this industry has been viewed as part of the problem, that it is not doing enough and, in some cases, even blocking progress. This is your opportunity to show the world that, in fact, you are central to the solution”, Jaber says (COP 28 UAE, 2023).
Other critical issues that will be discussed include hammering the details of the loss and damage fund to help poor countries and vulnerable communities deal with the impacts of climate change and closing the massive emission gap, among others.
Additionally, the first-ever global stocktake, a process to measure countries’ progress or lag toward meeting the Paris Agreement goal, will conclude during COP28.
Emerging issues surrounding COP28
The BBC reports the host country is one of the world’s top 10 oil-producing nations. COP28’s President-designate, Sultan Al Jaber, is also the chief executive of the state-owned oil company, Adnoc. Mr Jaber’s oil company plans to expand production capacity.
Two days before the start of the climate summit, BBC released a report COP28: UAE planned to use climate talks to make oil deals. The article referred to leaked briefing documents revealing the host country’s plans to pitch and promote oil and gas deals with 15 nations, including China, Brazil, Germany and Egypt.
The documents obtained by independent journalists at the Centre for Climate Reporting working alongside the BBC included proposed “talking points”, such as one for China, which says Adnoc, the UAE’s state oil company, is “willing to jointly evaluate international LNG [liquefied natural gas] opportunities” in Mozambique, Canada and Australia, and suggest telling a Colombian minister that Adnoc “stands ready” to support Colombia to develop its fossil fuel resources (Rowlatt, 2023).
The documents suggest telling a Colombian minister that Adnoc “stands ready” to support Colombia to develop its fossil fuel resources. There are also talking points for 13 other countries, including Germany and Egypt, which suggest telling them Adnoc wants to work with their governments to develop fossil fuel projects, the report notes.
Amid the controversies leading to COP28, delegates travelling to attend the climate summit tell Eco-Business that they are still willing to participate in the process but not without doubt about its effectiveness.
Sharad Somani, who leads on climate change and sustainability at KPMG, says past COPs have become increasingly tedious and getting countries to agree on a common agenda is difficult.
However, he said there are positive signs that dynamics are shifting such that corporations are taking a stronger lead on climate action at COP. “What has happened is that the private sector has now come forward to say: we are ready to put weight behind some of the initiatives and measures that we have committed to.”
The article cites an open letter from 131 companies representing nearly US$1 trillion in global annual revenue calling on world leaders to phase out unabated fossil fuels because of business losses from extreme events.
They claim climate action could boost global GDP by 4 per cent by 2030. The group comprises mainly Western firms operating in territories less dependent on fossil fuels and a handful of Asian businesses, including Indian conglomerates Mahindra Group, Godrej, and some African companies.
Other signatories include brands worth at least US$1 billion, such as consumer goods giants Unilever, Danone and Nestlé; chemicals firm Bayer; brewer Heineken; tech company Hewlett-Packard; automaker Volvo and furniture retailer IKEA, are among the signatories.
Learn more about COP28 by clicking the links below.
About COP28. United Nations Climate Change. Retrieved from https://unfccc.int/process-and-meetings/conferences/un-climate-change-conference-united-arab-emirates-nov/dec-2023/about-cop-28
COP28 UAE. Retrieved from https://www.cop28.com/en/
Temperatures. (2022 November). Climate Action Tracker. Retrieved from https://climateactiontracker.org/global/temperatures/
Rowlatt, J. (2023 November 28). COP28: UAE planned to use climate talks to make oil deals. BBC. Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-67508331
Poynting, M. (2023, November 28). What is COP28 in Dubai and why is it important? BBC. Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-67143989
Kelly, R. & Ng, W. (2023, November 28). Dubai gears up for COP28, amid fresh controversy surrounding UAE presidency. Eco-Business. Retrieved from https://www.eco-business.com/news/dubai-gears-up-for-cop28-amid-fresh-controversy-surrounding-uae-presidency/
Hicks, R. (2023 October 31). ‘We’re losing money to climate change’: Corporates push for fossil fuels phase-out ahead of COP28. Eco-Business. Retrieved from https://www.eco-business.com/news/were-losing-money-to-climate-change-corporates-push-for-fossil-fuels-phase-out-ahead-of-cop28/