ieExplains: Cop28 starts this week. But what is it? Here's everything you need to know

ieExplains: Cop28 starts this week. But what is it? Here's everything you need to know

President Joe Biden speaks at the Cop27 UN Climate Summit in Egypt. Picture: AP Photo/Alex Brandon

The 28th annual UN Climate Change Conference (Cop28) takes place in Dubai from November 30 until December 12. Here are some things you should know about the climate event:

What is Cop?

Cop or Conference of the Parties is an international climate meeting held each year by the United Nations. The event brings international governments together to analyse and review how climate change is handled on a local and global scale.

It is the principal decision-making body of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, an agreement made by 197 nations to stabilise greenhouse gas emissions and prevent catastrophic climate change.

The Cop meets every year, unless the parties decide otherwise. The first Cop meeting took place in 1995 in Berlin, Germany.

Who can attend?

This year, more than 70,000 delegates are expected to attend Cop28, including the member states of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Climate scientists, business leaders, young people, journalists, Indigenous peoples, and various other experts and stakeholders — including charities and NGOs  — are among those in attendance.

Despite attracting worldwide attention, the event is not open to the public.

However, many of the events are broadcast live and free to watch virtually.

Who hosts Cop?

Cop is hosted by a different country every year. The host is generally chosen on rotation from one of the UN’s five regional groups.

These groups consist of African States/African Group, Asia-Pacific Group, Eastern European States Group, Group of Latin American and Caribbean States (GRULAC), and Group of Western European and Other States. (WEOG).

The host’s role is important in trying to push a deal over the line to benefit their country.

What has come out of previous events?

The very first Cop event, Cop1, was hosted in 1995 and marked the first global commitment to tackling climate change.

At that event, the registrars agreed to meet annually to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prevent excessive global warming.

At Cop21, held in Paris in 2015, the Paris Agreement was adopted by 195 Cop member states. .

Each country agreed to limit global temperatures to well below 2C in comparison with pre-industrial levels and ideally below 1.5C.

All countries agreed to create national plans setting out how much they would reduce their emissions. These were known as Nationally Determined Contributions, or NDCs.

Cop26, held in Glasgow in 2021, is also regarded as one of the most important Cops of recent years, where participating countries reflected on the progress made following the Paris Agreement.

Before the event, many nations made promises to reach net zero, meaning greenhouse gas emissions are cut back as close to zero as possible. The UAE made a commitment to achieve this by 2050.

However, many were left disappointed after the event, with the Glasgow Climate Pact that 197 countries agreed to at the end of the conference proving to be much weaker than earlier anticipated.

The countries agreed to commit to "phasing down" and not "phasing out" coal use, as hoped.


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