Annual global climate talks are beginning Thursday in Dubai with the backdrop of fractured global unity and concern about the influence of the fossil fuel industry as countries face a narrowing window to divert the planet from its disastrous path.
For the UN Climate Change Conference, known this year as COP28, the stakes are high — and so is the controversy, given that the oil-rich United Arab Emirates is serving as host.
Dueling worldviews about the future of fossil fuels came quickly into view Thursday, as COP28 President Sultan Al Jaber — an oil CEO — said he considered the oil and gas industry a partner that can “lead the way” in the energy transition. Moments later, Simon Stiell, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, told delegates that it was time to “signal the terminal decline of the fossil fuel era as we know it.”
More than 100 world leaders are scheduled to address the gathering Friday and Saturday. The speakers include French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, shows a list released by the Framework Convention on Climate Change.
The first Global Stocktake of the implementation of the Paris Agreement will conclude at COP 28. Each stocktake is a two-year process that happens every five years, with the aim of assessing the world’s collective progress towards achieving its climate goals. The first Global Stocktake takes place at the mid-point in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its SDGs, including Goal 13 (climate action). It will be preceded by a mandated workshop on the elements of the outcome of the GST in October in the UAE.
In a letter to parties dated July 2023, the Incoming Presidency announced that COP 28 will focus on four paradigm shifts:
Fast-tracking the energy transition and slashing emissions before 2030;
Transforming climate finance, by delivering on old promises and setting the framework for a new deal on finance;
Putting nature, people, lives, and livelihoods at the heart of climate action; and
Mobilizing for the most inclusive COP ever.
The letter also outlines a three-fold vision to course correct that includes a negotiated outcome, an action agenda, and a call to action.
A letter to parties dated 17 October 2023 provides further details on the Presidency’s action agenda, the negotiations, and the GST.