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Seven reasons why COP 28 cannot be a talk shop

Seven reasons why COP 28 cannot be a talk shop

Greenhouse gas emissions keep growing. Global temperatures keep rising. And our planet is fast approaching tipping points that will make climate chaos irreversible. We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot on the accelerator.

———-António Guterres, UN Secretary General

COPs (Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC) have been held in different cities across the world, since the first edition in Berlin in 1995. In Europe, the Americas, Africa and Asia, the world super powers have spearheaded discussions aimed at tackling issues with climate change. When the Kyoto COP 3 agreed on the first legally binding protocol in December 1997 to limit greenhouse gas emissions, many held strong beliefs that the world was making progress to be ahead of the climate change narratives.

At least, 24 COPs have taken place since that time but a “proper headway” is still miles away and this is of great concern to all.  There are many reasons why the COP 28 in Dubai cannot be “business as usual” and these include but not limited to:

  1. Urgency of the Issue:

COP 28, as a gathering of world leaders and policymakers, cannot afford to be just a talk shop because of the urgency of the climate crisis. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has issued several reports highlighting the severe and irreversible impacts of global warming, including extreme weather events, sea-level rise, and biodiversity loss. Therefore, COP 28 must be more than just a forum for discussions; it needs to produce actionable outcomes to effectively address and mitigate these pressing issues.

  1. Global Commitments:

In recent years, there has been a significant increase in global commitments to combat climate change, including the Paris Agreement and various national and regional climate action plans. COP 28 cannot afford to simply be a platform for reiterating these commitments without tangible progress. There is a need for concrete steps, clear targets, and robust mechanisms for monitoring and enforcing these commitments to ensure that they are translated into meaningful action.

  1. Public Expectations:

The public’s expectations for COP 28 are high, given the increasing awareness and concern about climate change. There is a growing demand for transformative and ambitious actions from governments and international bodies to address the climate crisis. Therefore, COP 28 must deliver substantive outcomes that meet these expectations and demonstrate a genuine commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship.

  1. Economic Imperatives:

Addressing climate change is not only a moral and environmental imperative but also an economic one. The transition to a low-carbon economy presents significant opportunities for innovation, job creation, and sustainable growth. COP 28 must go beyond rhetoric and aim to catalyse investments in clean technologies, renewable energy, and sustainable infrastructure, thereby fostering economic transformation and enhancing global competitiveness.

  1. Equity and Justice:

The impacts of climate change are disproportionately felt by vulnerable communities, including low-income populations, indigenous peoples, and small island states. Therefore, COP 28 must prioritise equity and justice in its discussions and outcomes. This includes addressing issues such as climate adaptation, loss and damage, and the fair distribution of resources to support the most affected communities. It is crucial that COP 28 results in concrete measures to ensure that the burden of climate action is shared equitably and that the most vulnerable are adequately supported.

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  1. Scientific Imperatives:

The scientific community has repeatedly emphasised the need for urgent and decisive action to limit global warming and mitigate its impacts. COP 28 must be informed by the latest scientific assessments and recommendations, and it must translate scientific knowledge into policy decisions and practical solutions. Ignoring or downplaying the scientific imperatives of climate change at COP 28 would undermine the credibility and effectiveness of the conference.

  1. Interconnectedness of Issues:

Climate change is intricately interconnected with various other global challenges, including biodiversity loss, public health, food security, and social stability. COP 28 cannot be a mere talk shop because addressing climate change requires a holistic approach that acknowledges these interconnections. The conference must foster collaboration and coherence across different policy domains to ensure that climate action is integrated into broader sustainable development agendas.


In summary, COP 28 cannot afford to be just a talk shop. It needs to produce actionable outcomes, translate commitments into tangible progress, meet public expectations, align with economic imperatives, prioritise equity and justice, respect the scientific imperatives, and acknowledge the interconnectedness of climate change with other global challenges. Only by doing so can COP 28 effectively contribute to addressing the urgent and complex issues posed by the climate crisis.

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