COP28: An Overview

COP 28 refers to the United Nations Climate Change Conference, which took place in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, from 30 November until 12 December 2023.

UN Climate Change conferences (or COPs) take place every year, and are the world’s only multilateral decision-making forum on climate change with almost complete membership of every country in the world.

To put it simply, the COP is where the world comes together to agree on ways to address the climate crisis, such as limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, helping vulnerable communities adapt to the effects of climate change, and achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

Around 200 nations were represented in the talk including the member states (or Parties) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Nearly 100,000 politicians, diplomats, journalists and campaigners registered for the meeting, making it the biggest climate conference ever held. This included around 2,400 people connected to the coal, oil and gas industries, which underlined concern about the influence of fossil fuel groups.

Here are some key takeaways from the summit:

Fossil fuels

  • For the first time, countries agreed on the need to “transition away from fossil fuels in energy systems”.
  • The text calls for this to be done “in a just, orderly and equitable manner”. This is seen as an important recognition that richer countries are expected to move away from coal, oil and gas more quickly.
  • However, the deal doesn’t compel countries to take action, and no timescale is specified.
  • Many groups – including the US, UK, EU and some of the nations which are most vulnerable to climate change – had wanted a more ambitious commitment to “phase out” fossil fuels.
  • The agreement includes global targets to triple the capacity of renewable energy like wind and solar power, and to double the rate of energy efficiency improvements, both by 2030.
  • While it is a big step forward, countries most vulnerable to the impact of the climate crisis, including rising sea levels and extreme weather say a lot more was needed.
  • “It is not enough for us to reference the science and then make agreements that ignore what the science is telling us we need to do,” Anne Rasmussen of Samoa, speaking on behalf of all small islands, told world leaders after the deal was agreed.

Renewables on the rise

  • The summit has made one thing clear – renewables are the future and they are set to become the primary sources of energy in the coming decades.
  • The final deal called for countries to triple their renewable energy capacity by 2030.
  • Solar and wind energy use and infrastructure has already been expanding at rapid speed and prices have dropped.
  • Cop28 has sent a clear signal to the markets that renewables are the future and more investments will be made in the sector.
  • While this is a progress lauded by many, climate groups also said the language on renewables should be strengthened at future summits.

 Vulnerable nations

  • COP28 saw a landmark agreement to support vulnerable nations facing the worst of climate change’s impacts. These can include: “the development of national response plans; addressing insufficient climate information and data, and promoting equitable, safe and dignified human mobility in the form of displacement, relocation, and migration, in cases of temporary and permanent loss and damage.”
  • A geographically diverse board will be established, and the fund will be initially managed by the World Bank. The first pledges from wealthy nations were made in Dubai to support the fund and currently total over $650 million.

From a business perspective, the totality of the agreements forged at the conference send an important signal of intent to increase the pace and scale of efforts across the global economy to limit global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius. COP28 has – by any objective measure – succeeded in bringing much-needed political focus, specificity and urgency to task of implementing the Paris Agreement.

COP28 has delivered a blueprint for action to get the world back on track in implementing the Paris Agreement. We now need governments to follow up the summit with actions to support the encouraging agreements made.