COP28: What to know before UN climate talks


Approximately 70,000 world delegates and negotiators are expected to meet in Dubai for the United Nation’s COP28 climate summit from Nov. 30 to Dec. 12, assessing progress countries have made under the Paris Agreement targets.

Before the summit, renewable energy associations and United Arab Emirates, host of COP28, has urged governments across the globe to double renewable energy capacity by 2030 to keep global warming below 1.5 degree Celsius.

Here’s five essential things you need to know before Dubai summit begins.

Pre-COP to the 2023 UN Climate Change Conference. (Photo: COP28)

What is COP28?

COP28 is the 28th iteration of the UN climate conference.

The Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNCFFF) held its first session in 1995. The annual conference is the oldest in history and largest in scale aiming at addressing the problem of climate change. There are 197 countries that have signed the UNFCCC.

The two-weeks summits bring together world leaders and experts to address climate crisis on a global level. The state parties have signed the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 and the Paris Agreement in 2016 to unify the fight against rising global temperatures.

Beyond the official UN-organized part of the conference, COP28 is also a platform for businesses, NGOs and civil society to find solutions and pathways to issues such as food safety, water resources, and transitional justice.  

(Image: COP28)

During the COP28, all the official sessions, meetings, and press conference are taking place in the Blue Zone, where only accredited party, observer delegates, and press can enter. The Green Zone is open to all individual participants to facilitate communication and partnership between public and private sectors. 

Why is the choice of COP28 host controversial?

Sultan Al Jaber, the UAE’s special envoy for climate change for the last three years, is appointed the president of this year’s COP28 climate talks. He also happens to be the CEO of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), the world’s largest oil companies. His dual role has attracted criticism from climate activities for potential conflict of interest. US and EU lawmakers also call for his removal as the summit chief.    

But some back the UAE’s choice of appointment. US climate envoy John Kerry said that Sultan Al Jaber is “a terrific choice,” as he is the head of an oil company and knows the importance of energy transition.

Sultan proposed a so-called Global Decarbonization Alliance, urging oil and natural gas sectors to phase down fossil fuel and scale up investments in carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS). 

Sultan Al Jaber is applying pressure on more than 20 oil and gas firms that account for one quarter of global production to join the alliance. ADNOC also announced a statement to bring net-zero target deadline from 2050 to 2045 and achieve net-zero methane emissions by 2030. 

The choice of COP28 chief causes controversy over his role in oil company. (Photo: COP28)

What’s on the agenda?

Global Stocktake 

The parties that signed the 2015 Paris Agreement are supposed to take stock of the world’s progress every five years. This year’s global stocktake (GST) is the first of its kind, but a new synthesis report on the first GST lay bare how far the world is behind meeting the Paris Agreement’s goals.

Countries agree under the Paris Agreement to keep the global temperature at below 2 degrees Celsius and limit temperature warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, but the global temperature is estimated to rise 2.5 degrees Celsius based on governments’ climate goals.

While governments are pushing forward energy transition, the scale is too small and pace too slow, according to the report. This year’s GST will focus on how to improve nationally determined contributions and strengthen carbon reduction pathway to achieve the Paris Agreement goal.

Raising renewable energy ratio by 2030

In response to the world’s slow progress, the Presidency has prioritized “accelerate energy transition and reduce emissions” on this year’s agenda, as more extreme weather such as heat wave and flood will happen more frequently if global temperature rises beyond 1.5 degrees C.

Major state economies, including G20 countries such as China, the U.S., and India, all agree these targets and have reached an agreement in September to double the global renewable energy capacity by 2030.

COP28 will focus on government’s renewable energy targets by 2030. (Photo: Freepik)

Increasing renewable energy capacity by two times is difficult but achievable and it is a necessary condition to achieve net zero. Countries should remove the barrier for renewable energy developers, invest in the grid, and encourage businesses to sign CPPA, BloombergNEF’s report said. 

First-ever Health Day

The WHO projects that impact of climate change could cause at least 250,000 yearly deaths by the 2030s if global warming worsens. COP28 will host the Health Day in collaboration with the WHO for the first time to discuss impacts of extreme weather on health and identify measures to address the impact.

In addition, COP28 menu will embrace plant-based food options, demonstrating sustainable food systems in action at COP28 itself.

What’s the action of Southeast Asian countries before COP28?


President Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the UAE met Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien-loong this October to facilitate bilateral ties and climate commitments. The two signed eight agreements, with six of them on climate change and digital technology.

The two nations pledge to strengthen their commitments in carbon reduction, climate adaptation and aid for climate-vulnerable countries at COP28 and will deepen their collaboration in green economy, carbon market, low-carbon energy, and food safety.

Singapore and UAE signed several climate agreements before COP28. (Photo: Shiekh Mohamed)


Indonesia’s Minister of Finance Sri Mulyani said in September that her country is planning to make an announcement at COP28 about retiring early from coal, probably before 2030. Indonesia has pledged to gradually phase out coal by 2040, an action that is expected to attract green finance from western countries to accelerate green transition.

As the world’s largest coal exporter and one of the fastest growing economies, Indonesia could cause a rippling effect on other countries such as South Africa and Vietnam if it can make ambitious climate commitments at COP28, said analysts.


Malaysia’s Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim will lead the biggest group of delegates to COP28. The country’s Phase Two of the National Energy Transition Roadmap (NETR) unveiled this year is expected to draw attention.

Under the NETR, renewable energy should be scaled up to 70% of the electricity mix. However, it requires more than US$143.6 billion of investment to achieve this goal. Prime Minister Anwar is expected to call for more investments from developed countries at COP28.

Prime Minister Anwar once said it’s unrealistic to expect developing countries to reach net-zero without assistance from developed nations and he urged the developed partners to mobilize US$100 billion to help energy transition.

Who will be at COP28?

Pope Francis will attend COP28, marking the first in-person papal presence at the UN Conference of the Parties, where he will address the climate change and meet with world leaders.

The Pope met COP28 President Sultan Al Jaber this October to discuss climate crisis. (Photo: Vatican News)

King Charles III of the United Kingdom will deliver the opening address at COP28. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has also confirmed to attend the summit.

Upon the invitation of UAE, delegates of fossil fuel industry and leaders of major oil producers including Saudi Arabia, Syria, Russia and Iran will attend the summit.

CEO Larry Fink of BlackRock is among the finance heavyweights going to attend the COP28.

US President Joe Biden and China’s President Xi Jinping, leaders of the world’s two biggest emitters, however, will both be absent this year. China will send Vice Premier Ding Xuexiang (丁薛祥) to attend the conference instead.

The U.S. and China have recently established a joint agreement to boost renewable energy development. “If President Xi and President Biden can build on that work that their two special envoys did, that could be more important than them actually showing up and participating with dozens or hundreds of other world leaders in scripted dialogues,” said Alden Meyer, a senior associate at the climate change think tank E3G.

Related Topics
World’s richest 12 people have same carbon footprint as 2 mln homes
Carbon credits in the spotlight at upcoming COP28 climate talks

More from Renewable Energy Certificate

Download request

Please fill out the form to download samples.

Job title
Company email
By using this site, you agree with our use of cookies.