Dubai will host this year's UN climate summit - the 28th Conference of Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that will bring nearly 200 countries to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to discuss progress on environment, or rather, the lack of it. The conference to be held from November 30 to December 12 with numerous side events will start off on a critical note over the fact that it is being hosted by an oil rich nation - one of the biggest fossil fuel producers. Like the previous COPs, the Dubai COP too will bring countries, corporates, environmental activists and concerned citizens to take stock of the planet's health.
The meet takes place during a year when the world has witnessed intense heat waves in large parts, demonstrating that despite passionate talk, governments and corporates have failed to make headway on cooling the planet. Year 2023 saw much human misery due to floods, wildfires and droughts, which was not different from what happened in the previous years.
What will be the important points at this year's COP?
One of the most important points for discussion will be kickstarting the loss and damage (L&D) mechanism which had been set-up during COP 27 at Egypt. It seeks to provide financial assistance to nations which are most vulnerable and likely to be badly impacted due to climate change impacts like rising sea levels, heatwaves, desertification, forest fires, floods and crop failures.
Vulnerable countries including Pacific island nations, who have low emissions, have been fighting developed countries for decades seeking compensation for damages caused by historical emissions. In the latest negotiations before the COP 28 takes place, rich and poor nations have agreed that the World Bank will manage the L&D fund. Though the final pot of fund has not yet been finalised, the rich nations including the US, the European Union and the UK are expected to contribute to the fund.
Another important action taking place at the Dubai COP will be the global stock take when countries and other international agencies will take a look at the environmental state of the planet and see the progress that has happened over the past years. It also checks whether countries are abiding by promises made under the Paris Agreement - the international treaty on climate change adopted in December 2015 in Paris, France.
The global stock take will scrutinise everything related to climate change and action taken to address concerns. It will also pick out the gaps and find ways through which countries can find out solutions to reduce emissions and better the environment.
Despite the annual conferences and rhetoric, the COP meets have always been fraught with tension and politics. The world has been struggling since the time of the Paris Agreement in 2015 to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees centigrade, yet this year seems to be on the verge of being declared the hottest year historically till now.
The Paris Agreement had, at that time, decided to hold the rise in the global average temperature to below 2 degrees centigrade above pre-industrial levels and also pursue efforts to limit global temperatures to 1.5 degrees centigrade above pre-industrial levels. Though international efforts have not yet managed to come close, global leaders are clear that to save the planet and its species global warming will have to be limited to 1.5 degrees centigrade by the end of this century or earlier.