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The 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) is to be held from 30 November to 1 December 2023 in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates. Egypt will hand over presidency to the UAE, having hosted COP27 in Sharm-el-Sheikh in November 2022.

Key themes at COP28

The UAE has outlined four themes for COP28: technology and innovation, inclusion, frontline communities, and finance.

Global stocktake

The UAE has called for nations to reflect on progress towards goals in the 2015 Paris Agreement through the first ‘global stocktake’. The Paris Agreement was made by countries agreeing to keep the increase in global average temperatures to “well below” 2˚C above pre-industrial levels and to “pursue efforts” to limit this increase to 1.5˚C. The global stocktake will take inventory on the collective progress towards limiting the global temperature increase.

Loss and damage fund

Following agreement of a loss and damage fund at COP27, the operation of this fund for is likely to be a focus at COP28. Pre-COP discussions have agreed a blueprint for how this fund will be run through the World Bank, however this will need to be formally adopted by parties in Dubai.

Fossil fuel phase out

Discussion is also likely to focus on whether an agreement to phase down or phase out of fossil fuels will be reached at the summit, with COP27 progress towards a proposal on this topic leaving scope for its reintroduction at COP28. At COP27, debates around language and ambitions were not concluded.

In total, twelve topics will be covered over the thematic days of the conference, including health, finance, just transition, education, land use, agriculture and water.

Protests and ethical concerns

Commentators have highlighted that hosting COP28 will bring added international attention to Dubai and the UAE, increasing its international standing in relation to climate change.

There have been calls for protest at the summit in relation to progress on climate change, links between COP and the fossil fuel industry, and the UAE’s climate policy specifically. Some groups have expressed concern over the safety of protest within the UAE.

The UAE Government has issued a joint statement with the UN outlining that there will be space for climate activists to make their voices heard.

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