In 1992, 154 nations came together and formed The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The convention was established to bind participating nations in committing to the “stabilisation of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system”. Almost 30 years on and the UNFCCC are about to convene for their 28th COP to review progress on this commitment once again. But what can you expect from COP28? Read on to find out…
This year, with 198 parties in attendance, the event is set to take place from November 30th – December 12th in Dubai, hosting both government and industry leaders for discussions, panels, retrospectives, and our first global stocktake. Over the years the UNFCCC has played a major role in shaping climate related negotiations like the Paris Agreement (2015), whilst also compiling a robust framework for future policies. Almost 30 years on and the meeting of the parties is more essential than ever, with the ICCP 2023 Climate Change Report outlining that GHG emissions continue to rise causing ‘widespread adverse impacts and related losses and damages to nature and people’. This year the hopes for the level of impact that COP will have are high and the themes for the conference are set to be far reaching if the right conversations are had.
“This year COP will see stakeholders uniting from across the globe to drive down our emissions and redirect our global financial resources to aid the communities and ecosystems most vulnerable. Through green finance mobilisation and the acknowledgment that time is our most critical resource, I hope to see COP28 bring steadfast commitments to change.” Alexander Lempka, CEO and co-founder of Connect Earth
COP28’s call to action
In July this year, a letter from the President-Designate of COP28, and UAE Special Envoy for Climate Change, Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, was published. In the letter Al Jaber outlines four ‘paradigm-shifts’ that define his vision for COP28:
Fast-tracking the energy transition and slashing emissions before 2030
COP28 aims for a substantial reduction in emissions, emphasising a holistic approach addressing both supply and demand. The conference seeks to fast-track the transition to a sustainable energy system, with the UAE set to showcase climate-smart development. Key goals include decarbonisation pathways, operationalising carbon markets, and accelerating the phase-out of fossil fuels.
Transforming climate finance, by delivering on old promises and setting the framework for a new deal on finance
COP28 aims to empower climate finance to meet the needs of developing nations by delivering on past commitments and shaping a new financial framework. Currently, the global financial system is fragmented and inadequate to address the USD 2.4 trillion annual funding requirement for climate action by 2030. Developed nations are urged to maintain the Green Climate Fund’s momentum and double adaptation finance. COP28 will also work to establish principles for a new financial architecture; strengthening international financial institutions, catalysing private capital, inspiring collaboration, and implementing regulatory reforms.
Putting nature, people, lives and livelihoods at the heart of climate action
COP28 centres climate action on nature, people, and livelihoods. Initiatives will promote biodiversity and conservation efforts, with a focus on vulnerable communities. COP28 also emphasises food system protection and climate-health policies.
Mobilising for the most inclusive COP ever
COP28 is grounded in inclusion, fostering collaboration with diverse stakeholders such as women, Indigenous Peoples, youth, and subnational actors. Gender balance in delegations is prioritised, along with a harassment-free environment. The COP28 program highlights key sectors and essential topics, with a focus on direct climate financing for women and girls.
“Equitable and meaningful climate progress will only happen if the solutions leave no one behind,” Razan Al Mubarak, UN climate change high-level champion for COP28
Green and blue, explained
As with previous COPs, the event is sectioned into ‘zones’ to divide points of interest and allow for public access. The Blue Zone is open to accredited party and observer delegates. Hosting the formal negotiations, as well as the World Climate Action Summit, the country pavilions, presidency events, and hundreds of side events.
The Green Zone however, is free-of-charge and open to everyone. Inside the zone you can expect to find the Energy Transition Hub, Climate Finance Hub, Technology and Innovation Hub and the Knowledge Hub. Along with panels, exhibitions, networking opportunities and roundtables.
Table stakes are high
There has been widespread media coverage for this year’s COP, with pressures mounting from all corners of the globe and a huge variety of stakeholders calling for action to be taken and more concrete resolutions to come from this year’s conference.
In October, 131 companies representing nearly $1 Trillion in global annual revenue composed a letter to all Heads of State attending UNFCCC COP28. The formal address signed by companies like IKEA, Volvo, Nestle and EDP called for the phase out of unabated fossil fuels and the acceleration of our clean energy transition; the message is clear – greater support from governments, financial institutions and fossil fuel producers is expected, now more than ever.
‘We call on all Parties attending COP28 in Dubai to seek outcomes that will lay the groundwork to transform the global energy system towards a full phase-out of unabated**** fossil fuels and halve emissions this decade.’ excerpt from the letter in collaboration with the We Mean Business Coalition.
The first Global Stocktake
COP28 also provides us with a significant milestone as for the first time since 2015, a global stocktake is taking place to evaluate how countries are progressing against their emission reduction commitments they made during The Paris Agreement.
“The global stocktake is an ambition exercise. It’s an accountability exercise. It’s an acceleration exercise,” said UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Simon Stiell. “It’s an exercise that is intended to make sure every Party is holding up their end of the bargain, knows where they need to go next and how rapidly they need to move to fulfil the goals of the Paris Agreement.”
Whilst this feels like an opportunity for reflection and accelerated growth, there is scepticism around the outcome of the stocktake.
“The global stocktake will not tell us anything new – we have more than enough evidence of the large gap between what’s needed [in emissions cuts] and the reality – but the global stocktake is mandated under the Paris agreement, so parties have to respond with increased ambition.” Tom Evans, E3G thinktank
Our top event picks…
Although the full breakdown of events has not been released yet, we have looked through side events and official materials to pull out some key dates and themes we think may be of interest.
🌟 How SMEs can change the course of action in the climate fight
📅 3rd Dec, 14.30-16.00 GST
📍 Blue Zone
Info: COP28 presents a platform for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises to drive climate action, launching the first Arabic Sustainability Campaign in the MENA region with partners to facilitate SCOPE3 integration and value chain decarbonisation for SMEs.
🌟 Banking for Climate; going beyond climate finance
📅 5th December, 16.45-18.15 GST
📍 SE Room 5, Blue Zone
Info: The event delves into broader strategies encompassing policy, technology, nature-based solutions, and new financing methods beyond traditional climate finance to address the complexities of climate change.
🌟 Sustainable Finance Forum
📅 6th December, 09.30-18.30 GST
📍Madinat Jumeirah Conference Centre, Dubai
Info: Co-hosted by Climate Action, Principles for Responsible Investment, and United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) during COP28, this finance sector event unites 400 participants to drive sustainable practices across portfolios. It aims to align finance with a net-zero, nature-positive global economy.
🌟 Better understanding economic impacts of climate change + accelerating science-based climate action
📅 6th December, 18.30-20.00
📍SE Room 6, Blue Zone
Info: This event aims to bridge the gap between economists and physical scientists, outlining actionable steps and research priorities to enhance economic impact assessments of climate change, enabling more informed decision-making.
🌟 Gearing up for ESG Reporting, panel session 5b
📅 7th December, 14.35-15.20
📍Word Climate Action Summit, Conrad, Dubai
Info: A global shift from voluntary to mandatory ESG and climate reporting is underway. Investors now integrate non-financial factors into risk assessments and growth strategies. This session shares insights and guidance for organisations and investors navigating this evolving landscape.
This year’s conference of the parties will set the scene for the next 12 months, impacting global decision making, policy implementation and infrastructure change. To keep up to date with the discussions and events happening at Expo city, we have put together a list of resources.
- The official daily programme is set to be published here on day one of COP28, November the 30th.
- All side events are live-streamed on this official secretariat-managed YouTube channel.
Side events can also be viewed in the public webcast schedule on the official UNFCCC website.
- The official COP28 UAE LinkedIn
- The official COP28 Twitter
- The official COP28 Instagram
- COP28 action tracker by Edie
- Financial Times COP28 coverage
Connect Earth at COP
COP28 is a milestone in our continued journey towards a sustainable future. With almost 30 years of climate negotiations behind us, this conference is more critical than ever. Our CEO and co-founder Alexander Lempka will be attending this years COP, looking to meet climate innovators, investors and sustainable banking leaders. Reach out on our website or LinkedIn to schedule a meeting during the conference.
Keep up to date with the event through the official channels and sign up to our newsletter for a wrap up when it’s all over.
About Connect Earth:
Founded in 2021, Connect Earth is a London-based environmental data company that democratises easy access to sustainability data. With its carbon tracking API technology, Connect Earth is on a mission to empower consumers and SMEs to make sustainable choices and bridge the gap between intent, knowledge and action. Connect Earth supports financial institutions in offering their customers transparent insight into the climate impact of their spending.