Temperaturansicht der Erde NASA/Scientific Visualization Studio
At a glance

UN Climate Change Conference 2023: COP28 in Dubai at a glance

With the UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) set to open in the United Arab Emirates in late November, akzente answers the most important questions about the event.

Text: Friederike Bauer Header Visualisation: NASA/Scientific Visualization Studio

When and where will the UN Climate Change Conference 2023 take place?

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is hosting the UN Climate Change Conference in Dubai from 30 November to 12 December. Dubai is one of the seven emirates that make up the UAE. The fact that an oil-producing state is hosting this year’s UN Climate Change Conference is already being criticised in the run-up to COP28 and is dampening expectations for the event.  

What are the goals of the UN Climate Change Conference?

The general aim is to implement the decisions laid out in the 2015 Paris Agreement, with a view to reducing emissions that are harmful to the environment to such an extent that net zero emissions are achieved by the middle of this century. This also involves the Parties making good on their pledge to provide USD 100 billion in climate finance to developing countries annually. After all, the Global South cannot bear the cost of this transformation all on its own. While there has been a significant increase of late in this funding, which currently stands at USD 83 billion annually, the original target has not yet been achieved. Adaptation projects, which are especially important for poorer countries, are also lagging behind mitigation projects. Against this backdrop, there will once again be a strong focus in Dubai on climate finance, and adaptation finance in particular. Also on the agenda will be the stocktake.

What is the stocktake and why is it important?

It is an inventory of the progress the international community has made to date on climate action. The stocktake will be conducted for the first time at COP28 and thereafter every five years. To this end, a vast amount of information and data has been collected over the past two years from the Parties, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the United Nations, non-governmental organisations, researchers and many other organisations globally, then analysed and fed into a report currently in its draft stage. This report will undergo a further round of revision at COP28, where it will subsequently be adopted. What is already clear is that efforts will have to be stepped up significantly.

is the expected global temperature increase at the end of the century, if the world keeps up its current pace of activity
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How are we doing with global warming?

According to the IPCC’s most recent report in early 2023, if the world keeps up its current pace of activity, then we are likely to be facing a global temperature increase of 2.8 degrees Celsius by the end of this century.

Why is the UN Climate Change Conference called COP?

The abbreviation COP stands for ‘Conference of the Parties’. Each COP is numbered, and we have now reached the 28th climate conference, or climate summit as it is also known. Consequently, the Dubai conference is designated COP28. The very first UN Climate Change Conference (COP1) was held in Berlin in 1995.

Who will be taking part in the Conference?

A total of 198 Parties will be attending the conference. In addition, there are what are referred to as ‘observers’ – predominantly international organisations and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). There are more than 3,000 observers. The climate conferences are organised by the secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in cooperation with the host country. UNFCCC is based in Bonn and has been headed by Simon Stiell from Grenada since 2022. Dubai has already announced that COP28 is set to be the largest climate conference with the highest number of attendees to date.

will be attending the conference

What is the Paris Agreement?

This legally binding document was adopted by the Parties in the French capital in 2015 (at COP21). It is considered a breakthrough in international climate policy, as it contains a specific, common climate action target, namely to limit global warming to less than two degrees and, if possible, less than 1.5 degrees Celsius. Since then, the international community has also been working with Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), which each country must set out and submit at regular intervals. These NDCs are expected to become increasingly ambitious until emissions of climate-damaging gases are low enough to allow climate change to be brought under control.

What was achieved at COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt?

The verdict on last year’s conference was mixed. The Parties succeeded in establishing an international financing mechanism for loss and damage, which is designed to support poorer countries in dealing with the consequences of climate change. This mechanism is now being successively expanded and funded. COP27 also saw the launch of the Global Shield at Germany’s initiative, offering rapid assistance to poorer countries in the event of climate damage. At the same time, it was not possible to conclude any further-reaching agreements in Egypt, for instance on the phase-out of all fossil fuels, and coal in particular.

What have been the most important conferences and decisions?

International climate policy dates back to the Rio Conference (also known as the Earth Summit) in 1992, where delegates adopted the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which has been regarded as the ‘mother of all climate decisions’ ever since. In it, the international community pledged for the first time to stabilise the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere in order to prevent interference with the climate system. The Convention entered into force in 1994. It was followed in 1997 by the Kyoto Protocol, which laid down specific reduction commitments of on average 5.2 per cent compared to 1990 emissions, initially for industrialised countries. When the Protocol expired, the international community was not able at first to agree on a new model to replace it. A low point in climate negotiations was reached in Copenhagen in 2009. It was not until six years later, in 2015, that delegates reached consensus on the Paris Agreement. Instead of fixed reduction commitments for certain countries, it provides for Nationally Determined Contributions for all countries. The Paris Agreement continues to be updated and expanded.