Climate Action: Meaning and Significance of Conference Of Parties - COP28

The Conference of Parties (COP) is the apex decision making body of UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change). UNFCCC was instituted to deal with the growing threat of climate change. It was signed in 1992 at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development also known as Rio Summit or Earth Summit. The Secretariat of UNFCCC is located in Bonn, Germany. 

COP28 will be the UAE’s most important event in 2023

2023 will be a historic year for the UAE. The country is going to host the 28th session of the Conference of Parties to the UNFCCC from November 30, 2023 to December 12, 2023. COP28 will coincide with the UAE national day, which is December 2. And it will be a global event with participation from more than 80,000 delegates, including 140 heads of state and government, and more than 5,000 media professionals.

The UAE will be the second country in the Middle East to host a COP session after Egypt in 2022. The UNFCCC made this decision after UAE received unanimous support from the Asia-Pacific group at COP 26 in Glasgow, Scotland in 2021.

Climate Action: Environmental Relevance of the UAE as the Host of COP28

The position of the UAE as the host for COP28 reflects the government’s efforts to transform the economy into one that is fueled by clean and renewable energy sources along with technological advancements and climate-smart solutions. The conference will primarily focus on the economic case for inclusive climate action. 

The UAE has been committed to battling climate change since 1989, the same year it ratified the Vienna Convention for the protection of the Ozone layer. After this, it became a member of the UNFCCC in 1995 and also ratified the Kyoto Protocol in 2005.

Some of the ‘green’ initiatives practiced and propagated by the UAE include:

  • Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate or AIM – A proposal put forth by the UAE and the US at COP 26. The objective of this proposal was to create huge investments in climate-smart agriculture and food systems over the next 5 years. The agriculture sector employs around 5 billion people globally. The UAE has pledged an extra $1 billion for this project. 

  • The UAE is one of the countries with the least methane emissions and as a part of this, it has joined the Global Methane Pledge. The hydrocarbon industries in the UAE have the world’s lowest methane intensities of 0.01%. The country also aims at reducing methane emissions by 30% by the end of 2023.

  • The UAE government has also taken steps to maximize the sources of renewable energy. A $400 million investment has been made to help developing countries transition from old methods of energy generation to renewable sources.

  • The Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure in UAE has created a blueprint-Hydrogen Leadership Roadmap, that contains comprehensive steps to establish the country as a leading exporter of hydrogen by supporting low carbon industries. 

  • The UAE is also home to the first of its kind large scale carbon capture facility (CCUS). This facility aids in reducing the cost of solar energy. 

  • By the end of the decade, the UAE aims at planting 100 million mangrove trees as part of its second NDC (Nationally determined contribution). NDC was adopted from the Paris Agreement.

  • The government also spent $17 billion on helping 27 island nations facing the climate change threat. Many projects like solar, wind and battery storage were initiated here.

  • In April 2022, the Barakah Nuclear Plant started its operations. Once the four reactors of the plant are fully operational, the greenhouse gas emissions of UAE’s power sector will reduce considerably.

  • Net Zero 2050 is another strategic initiative that aims at making the UAE carbon-neutral by mid-century. The UAE was among the first countries in the Middle East and North Africa to announce this project.

What to expect from COP28?

Going by global reports, COP28 carries a lot of environmental expectations and is poised to take some major resolutions to combat climate change.

COP28 is particularly significant because it marks the end of the first Global Stocktake, which began at COP26 in Glasgow. The UAE COP will be delivering the first Global Stocktake (it is a biennial process that occurs every five years). This report will assess the collective progress made under the Paris Agreement and identify areas for additional action and support.

COP28 will focus on adaptation. Countries have set important deadlines to establish a new global goal on adaptation by 2023.

COP28 will also examine progress to deliver on a number of existing climate finance commitments. These range from working out how to establish a “loss and damage” facility to meeting other existing finance commitments that developed economies have failed to deliver, including the $100 billion in financing to developing economies that was pledged starting in 2020.

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