Dubai, UAE – November 30, 2023
The annual United Nations (UN) climate summit, COP28, commenced in Dubai, hosting a record-breaking 70,000 attendees and marking the largest-ever climate gathering. On its inaugural day, global leaders endorsed a climate disaster fund aimed at assisting vulnerable nations in dealing with the impacts of climate change.
The summit, emphasizing the need for a global commitment to address climate challenges, signals positive momentum for climate action. However, the event is not without its share of controversies, particularly surrounding the leadership of UAE’s Sultan al-Jaber. As the head of the summit, al-Jaber faces scrutiny due to his ties to the oil industry, sparking concerns about conflicts of interest and questioning his suitability for a key climate role.
On the first day of the two-week COP28 conference, delegates achieved a breakthrough by approving the establishment of a fund to aid vulnerable nations in coping with climate change effects. This decision paved the way for governments to announce contributions to the fund, with notable pledges from the COP28 host the United Arab Emirates ($100 million), Germany ($100 million), Britain (at least $51 million), the United States ($17.5 million), and Japan ($10 million).
While the early commitment to the damage fund is a positive development, concerns linger over unresolved issues, such as the future financing of the fund. The COP28 summit, with its global significance, is expected to address these concerns and reach agreements over the next two weeks.
The event witnessed the participation of over 70,000 attendees, including global leaders, activists, lobbyists, and notable figures like billionaire Bill Gates. The absence of the U.S. and China’s presidents underscored the urgency of addressing rising global emissions.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged leaders to commit to a complete phaseout of fossil fuels, a proposal met with opposition from powerful nations. The summit aims to formalize a “loss and damage” fund to compensate climate-vulnerable countries.
Participants will review and calibrate the implementation of climate agreements like the Paris Agreement and the Kyoto Protocol. The introduction of the Global Stocktake (GST) will analyze countries’ progress toward the Paris Agreement, influencing future climate action plans due in 2025.
The host UAE seeks agreements on tripling renewable energy and doubling annual energy efficiency improvements by 2030. Achieving consensus proves challenging, given COP’s requirement for unanimous action from nations with diverse interests.
While the UAE positions itself as a bridge between developed nations and the rest of the world facing severe consequences, criticisms persist, particularly with al-Jaber, also heading UAE’s state oil giant ADNOC. Questions about potential conflicts of interest and accusations of pursuing new fossil fuel deals linger, adding a layer of complexity to the critical discussions unfolding at COP28.