What is COP28? All you need to know!

In this article, I look at COP28 billed as the global climate change summit will take place later in 2023. Anyone struggling to understand what is COP28 and why it is important will benefit from this episode as these vital questions will be answered.

So, what is COP28, where and when will it be held, who will attend, what does the programme cover & what are its goals and objectives

However, there are vital questions that are begging to be answered. So, here goes:

What is COP28?
COP28 sounds a strange title to give to such an important globally important meeting.

The ‘COP’ is a global summit on the climate change held by the parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which is the international treaty with an objective to prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system, primarily by stabilising greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The summit is known as the Conference of the Parties, or COP for short.

The first COP was held in Berlin in 1995 and has been held every year since save for 2020 except when it was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic & this year’s meeting will be the 28th annual summit, which is why it is call “COP28”.

Where will COP28 be held?
COP28 will be held in the Expo City Dubai in United Arab Emirates, which is well placed for holding COP28 as the Expo City is a significant centre attracting many international conferences and diplomatic meetings.

What is the significance of United Arab Emirates?
As the first country in the region to ratify the Paris Agreement, the first to commit to an economy-wide reduction in emissions, and the first to announce a Net Zero by 2050 strategic initiative, the UAE is committed to raising ambition in this critical decade for climate action.

Their 2015 Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) made the UAE, the first country in the region to commit to an economy-wide reduction in emissions by 2030, and launched the National Net Zero by 2050 Pathway in November 2022, which sets the timeframe and identifies the mechanisms to implement the UAE Net Zero by 2050 strategic initiative.

The UAE was one of only 29 countries to submit a revised second NDC ahead of COP27 in 2022 with its enhanced target expected to translate into an absolute emissions reduction of about 93.2 million metric tons of CO2e.

The UAE is not without some legacy issues in terms of the appointment of Sultan al-Jaber as COP28 president-designate, which has provoked a furious backlash from climate activists and civil society groups as he is, also, head of the state oil giant Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), one of the world’s largest oil companies.

With one climate activist, saying that “This appointment goes beyond putting the fox in charge of the henhouse,” said Teresa Anderson, global lead on climate justice at ActionAid, a development charity.

When will COP28 be held?
COP28 is scheduled to be held from 30 November to 12 December 2023.

What is COP28 programme?
The COP28 programme will cover different themes, and each day will have a theme by its own as follows:

Finance Day

Water Day

Decarbonization Day

Science Day

Solutions Day

Gender Day

Energy Day

Biodiversity Day

Youth Day & Civil Society Day

Who will attend?
Nearly all of the countries in the world are party to the UNFCCC. There are approximately, 200 world leaders, 30,000 delegates & an expected total of 70,000 participants to attend, take part in discussions, report back on progress since the 2015 Paris Agreement within the Stocktake process, and make further decisions on how to reduce GHG emissions and combat the impact that climate change is already having.

What can we expect at COP28?
United Arab Emirates as the Host country for COP28 will host the first ever Global Stocktake, which will assess the world’s response to the climate crisis and highlight urgent actions to take.

The final political phase of the process is now underway which will conclude at COP28 with recommendations and political messages through the Global Stocktake.

Where, the UNFCCC Executive Secretary Simon Stiell has described the global stocktake as a “moment of truth” but added that it must guide the world “sector by sector, region by region, actor by actor on what surgical interventions must take place” to align with a 1.5°C world.

The newly appointed COP President Dr Sultan Al Jaber, who himself is an oil executive whose appointment deeply concerns climate activists highlighted the major role that the stocktake will play. Noting that “the world is playing catch-up when it comes to the key Paris goal of holding temperatures to 1.5°C” and the Global Stocktake will be a critical tool to achieve the needed transformation to accomplish that aim.

This stocktake, should be viewed, against the backdrop of a world recovering from COVID-19 and its impacts, the on-going Russian war instigated on Ukraine, increasing inflation & US – EU trade tensions over the US Inflation Reduction Act and the EU’s Green Industrial Plan.

This overall goal and vision will be supported by sub-goals under each of four headings:

  • Taking recommendations about the Loss and Damage Agreement and its operation
  • Creation of a framework for the $100 billion adaptation funding goal set in 2009 at COP15
  • An update regarding the multi-hazard early warning system
  • A discussion on the Global Goal of Adaptation
  • Pursuing and pushing forward with other projects, including upgrading food production processes, ocean safety, etc.

Further information on the issues presented in this episode are available from the COP28, Pre-COP and UNFCCC websites.

So, to summarise:

We should, all, hope that COP28 can reignite the positivity for dealing with climate change and to make practical and significant steps to ensure that all parties can deliver on the Paris Agreement commitment for “holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.”

None more so, than the accountability of each country under the Global Stocktake & the necessary actions to improve their individual Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and their achievement of real commitment to meet their own NDC targets.

In the run-up to the COP28 summit, I will aim to provide other articles to help in understanding climate change and the actions that you can take, both as an Environmental Manager or Consultant & as an individual.

Further information on the issues presented in this article are available from the COP26 & UNFCCC websites.


If this article has helped to advance your understanding of the COP28 summit, please leave a comment in the box below, if this article has help you.

If you enjoyed this article, you should check out our YouTube Channel – EMSmastery, where you can watch our videos, such as our video accompanying this article on What is COP28? – All You Need To Know! and subscribe in our YouTube channel for new videos released each week.

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