2023 will be a historic year for the UAE. The country is going to host the 28th session of the Conference of Parties (COP 28) to the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change). Though the dates are not confirmed yet, the event will tentatively fall between November 6 and 17, 2023. Dubai Expo City will serve as the venue for COP28. There can be no better location to host COP 28 than Dubai Expo City, as both COP 28 and Expo 2020 Dubai have some goals in common: achieving sustainability and encouraging global cooperation to address global issues.
If everything falls in place, the UAE will be the second country in the Middle East to host a COP session after Egypt. The UNFCCC made this decision after UAE received unanimous support from the Asia-Pacific group at COP 26 in Glasgow, Scotland in 2021.
Going by global reports, COP28 carries a lot of environmental expectations and is poised to take some major resolutions to combat climate change.
Meaning and Significance of COP
COP or the Conference of Parties is the apex decision making body of UNFCCC. 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.
The Presidency and venue of COP rotate among the five recognized UN regions – Caribbean, Latin America, Asia, Africa, Central, Eastern and Western Europe. The first COP meeting was held in Berlin, Germany in March 1995. COP is held every year unless the Parties decide otherwise.
Outcomes of COP 26
COP has had some significant outcomes since its first conference in Berlin. UN Climate Change Executive Secretary, Patricia Espinosa outlined the sustainable outcomes of COP 26 during the ministerial dialogue at OLADE energy week. Here they are:
Adapting to the impacts of climate change. After COP 26, a work programme has come into existence to define how all the countries will adapt to this phenomenon.
Creating more funds for developing countries to help them in the process of adaptation.
Although emission levels have come down, more efforts need to be taken by governments. For this, the deployment of renewables needs to be accelerated.
Finalizing the guidelines for the complete implementation of the Paris Agreement*. The compromise reached on Article 6 talks about carbon markets that will ensure fair competition. Along with this, negotiations on the ETF or Enhanced Transparency Framework were also finalized to help countries build trust.
* Paris Agreement – It is an international treaty on climate change that legally binds all parties involved in its goal of limiting global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius. It was adopted during COP 21 in Paris in 2015.
Environmental Relevance of the UAE as the Host of COP 28
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.
According to the UAE, it’s a privilege to get a chance to host COP28 and it certainly comes as a recognition of the country’s environment-friendly steps taken for over three decades. 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.
Words from the UAE Government Representatives
Several representatives of the UAE government expressed their gratitude for the UNFCCC’s decision.
Remembering the legacy of the founding father of the UAE, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation stated, that COP 28 should be a ‘solutions COP’ and it should create shareable solutions for all the difficult challenges the world is facing today.
Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and Special Envoy for Climate Change said that COP 28 should be a stage of inclusivity. Each representative, whether it is the public sector or private sector, developed nation or developing nation, academicians or civilians, should be able to express their opinions and concerns. He said that the UAE believes in the motto ‘partnership promotes progress’ and this motto should reflect in the upcoming COP 28.
Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, said COP 28 will be the perfect platform to understand the ‘planetary and economic aftermath of climate change’ and constitute solutions for the same. She said the UAE’s ‘challenges are opportunities’ approach has helped the country to create a sustainable future for the coming generations. She said COP 28 will help them share their insights about this approach as well. She also expressed her desire to expand youth participation in the COP proceedings.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is UNFCCC?
UNFCCC is the abbreviation for United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. It is an official body formed in the year 1992 to lend support to the global response to the dangers posed by climate change. Currently, 197 states parties are present in this body.
What is the objective of UNFCCC?
In simple terms, the objective of UNFCCC is to allow the ecosystem to achieve sustainable development. It aims to stabilize greenhouse gases within a timeframe.
Who is the head of the secretariat?
The Executive Secretary heads the secretariat of UNFCCC. At present, the position is held by Patricia Espinosa. She hails from Mexico and has more than 30 years of experience in international relations with a special focus on climate change, sustainable development etc.
What is the COP 28?
COP28 is the 28th session of the Conference of Parties. COP is held every year to discuss and find solutions for climate change. COP28 is slated to take place in the UAE in late 2023 (tentatively between November 6 and 17), and Dubai Expo City has been chosen as the host city.
When and where will COP28 take place?
Even though the dates are not yet confirmed, COP28 is most likely to happen between November 6 and 17, 2023 in Dubai at the Dubai Expo City.
Who is the President of COP?
The Presidency position is held by the Minister of Environment from the host government. During COP 28, HE Mariam bint Mohammed Saeed Hareb Almheiri will be occupying the presidency position.
Which country has hosted the COP of all three Rio conventions?
India is one of the few countries to have hosted the COP of all three Rio conventions including the Rio convention on climate change, land (United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification) and biodiversity (Convention on Biological Diversity).