COP28: what is it ?

Published on 11.16.2023

5 min read

High School
Life and earth sciences

The COP28 brings together government delegates from all over the world. It will be held from November 30 to December 12 in Dubai, the largest city in the United Arab Emirates. The is an opportunity to review international action on climate change and to gradually open the way to the energy transition. Thousands of representatives from cities, companies, NGOs and citizen associations are also meeting on the fringes of the event.

COP28 President Dr. Sultan Al Jaber speaks during the second Earthshot Prize Innovation Summit in partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies, in New York City on September 19, 2023.

Annual COP meetings

At the 1992 Rio Summit, the United Nations adopted a Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC). It federates 197 “parties”, including all the countries in the world. Every year since 1995, a “Conference Of Parties” (COP) is organized in a different region of the world.

After Glasgow in Scotland and Charm el-Cheikh in Egypt, the COP28 is to be held in the Gulf region. A major oil & gas producer region, it has also embarked on a spectacular development of renewable energies, , new technologies and futuristic urbanization.

Dubai: two main routes emerge

In addition to the recurrent debate on financial aid to emerging countries, a preparatory report for the COP281 proposes two main actionable recommendations:

  • Tripling renewable by 2030.
  • Doubling worldwide.

Yet the report makes no mention of a very sensitive issue, i.e. should we plan to phase-out fossil fuels, and at what pace?

Three times more renewable electricity

The target seems realistic, as wind and solar (photovoltaic) power are already developing at a pace described as ‘unprecedented’ by the .  The IEA is already predicting an 85% increase between 2022 and 2027, based on current projects. In 2027, renewable energies should therefore overtake when it comes to producing . The United States, China and India are the biggest investors.

The main reason behind this renewable energie ‘boom’ is that the States want to be less dependent on oil and gas imports, where the markets were disrupted by the Russia - Ukraine war.

Doubling energy efficiency

Energy efficiency aims to reduce energy consumption to provide an equivalent service. For example, heating a building by improving the efficiency of heating systems, improving the insulation or giving the occupants tools to reduce their consumption. Improvement relies essentially on technological innovations, and progress in robotics, and artificial intelligence make the target an achievable one.

Remember that the development of renewable energies and energy efficiency, combined with energy sufficiency, are the three pillars of the (see the article on energy sufficiency).

A target and a sore point

Will the COP28 in Dubai once again address the issue of the planned phase-out of fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas), a pre-requisite for achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 (see the article on carbon neutrality).  The COP26 in Glasgow in 2021 gave some hope for progress by pointing the finger at fossil fuels, in particular coal, as the major cause of climate change. But at the last minute, China and India insisted on changing the text to have a call for a “reduction in”, rather than the “phase-out of” coal.

Moreover, the question of fossil fuels has taken on a new dimension since methane (CH4), an essential component of natural gas, was confirmed as one of the gases responsible for the . According to IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) experts, methane is responsible for a third of the Earth’s average .

Find out more:

COP28 website 

1The report was prepared with the IRENA.

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