23 Nov 2023 | Environment and Sustainability

Countdown to COP28

With one week to go until the start of COP28, what actually is COP? What will this year’s talks deliver? And how successful are they likely to be?

Rob Wall, our Assistant Director of Sustainability, provides an overview of the coming weeks.

What is COP?

COP stands for “conference of the parties”. The “parties” are the countries that have signed the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and they meet annually.

The last COP, COP27, was held in Egypt and brought together over 100 heads of state and representatives from around 200 countries. In addition, many campaigners, business leaders, lobby groups and indigenous communities also attend COP.

The key achievements at COP27 were a pledge to stick to the 1.5 degree target for limiting global warming, an agreement to provide loss and damage funding for countries most impacted by climate change, and a refocus on adaptation and on moving from climate pledges to climate actions.

You can find about more about COP27 here.

Where is COP28?

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) are hosting COP28 in Dubai, which runs from Thursday 30 November until Tuesday 12 December.

The Prime Minister, the Secretary of State for Energy and Net Zero and The King are all expected to attend.

There is some controversy around the fact that the UAE hold the Presidency for COP28 as the country is one of the top oil producing nations in the world. The chief executive of the national oil company has also been appointed to run the talks. Some have argued that this poses a huge conflict of interest as fossil fuels are the main cause of climate change. However, others suggest that the UAE are well placed to influence the fossil fuel industry and accelerate the shift away from oil and gas.

This year’s talks will have an added urgency as 2023 is likely to be one of the hottest years in recorded history. There is also concern that the world is way off track when it comes to the 1.5 degree target. The UN have warned that the planet is on course for 2.5 - 2.9 degrees of global warming if countries do not cut emissions.

What is on the agenda for COP28?

COP 28 will take place at the halfway point for meeting 2030 climate goals. There will be the first ever “global stocktake” to measure progress and ensure climate pledges are turned into action.

There will be discussions on how to speed the energy transition and scale up renewable energy, although, as we’ve seen in previous years, there may be tensions over whether to “phase down” or “phase out” fossil fuels. There will also be a desire to find ways to ensure the energy transition benefits developing nations and minority communities to deliver a just transition that leaves nobody behind.

For the first time at a COP summit, there will be a full day devoted to initiatives designed to protect lives and livelihoods and support community resilience. There will also be a focus on those regions of the world most impacted by conflict and that face a range of issues that make climate mitigation and adaptation extremely difficult.

There will also be a day dedicated to climate finance and to ensuring sustainable development finance is available to all stakeholders. Many developing countries are disproportionately impacted by the climate crisis and struggle to access the adaptation and mitigation funding they need. A key success at last year's COP27 was the commitment to set up a fund to pay for losses and damages from climate change, although the fund is not yet up and running and the details still need ironing out.

In terms of the built environment, the theme for Wednesday 6 December is “urbanisation and the built environment” and energy efficiency may be higher on the agenda that in previous years, with the COP President calling for governments to double the rate of energy efficiency improvements by 2030.

But as previous COPs have shown, the talks can be unpredictable! And it will be interesting to see what reception the UK receives in the light of recent Government changes to net zero polices!

You can read more about COP28 here.

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Rob Wall Assistant Director (Sustainability)