As a Sustainability Editor - why COP28 is the most important conference to date

Plus, who will be attending this year.

COP28: World leaders at the climate conference
(Image credit: Future)

This week marks the start of COP28, the twenty-eighth in a series of climate conferences designed to help global leaders reach agreements on some of the world's most pressing climate issues.

A bit of background for you, first - because you'll be seeing COP headlines popping up left, right and centre for the next few weeks. While the first conference was launched in Berlin in 1995, since then, 197 nations have met annually to reflect on the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Essentially, world leaders agreed back in 1995 that not only did they need to take responsibility for their global emissions, but work towards reducing them, too - no longer an ask, but a necessity, with global warming reaching a near critical point this year.

There has been some progress since the campaign first launched, with the "Paris Agreement" being reached in 2015. During the conference, world leaders made a unanimous pledge: to limit global warming to below 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (or 1.5 degrees Celsius).

Currently, though, 2023 has been the hottest year on record, casting doubt over the promises global leaders might have made. Action needs to happen, and fast - or, as IPCC scientists warned earlier this year, we'll miss our "final warning." 

That makes this year more important than ever - we have just seven years to seriously slow both climate change and, in turn, global warming. You can no longer deny the impact climate change is having on the planet, and sustainable living needs to happen now. Keep scrolling to educate yourself on the need-to-knows from this year's conference.

When is COP28? 

The climate conference kicked off yesterday, 30th November, and will run until Tuesday, 12th December. 

It's important to note, though, that in past years, delegations have overrun due to agreements failing to be met. Similarly, world leaders have to attend as and when their schedules allow, meaning it's sometimes difficult to get all the relevant people in one room. For that reason, there's every chance the conference may overrun again this year, too. 

This year it's being held in Dubai, which has caused some controversy. The UAE's minister of industry, Sultan Al-Jaber, will be chairing the 28th summit. That said, he also has ties to Dubai's national oil company, with many arguing that this, by definition, should mean he isn't allowed to play a leading part in the conference.

Why is it called COP28? 

This one's interesting - and quite obvious, once you hear the explanation.

COP itself simply stands for the full name of the event, the Conference of the Parties. The number simply stands for the number of conferences there have been. Case in point: this year is the 28th time leaders will meet to delegate. 

Hosted by the United Nations in a bid to bring nations together and reach a middle ground, all goals are set within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. 

What will be discussed at COP28?

The main focus will be on how all countries will reach the global warming limit agreed back in Paris in 2015 (they're currently not on target, with some countries coming dangerously close already). Pressure is mounting to hold the countries most responsible for climate change more accountable.

Similarly, world leaders are expected to discuss phasing out CO2-emitting fossil fuels, renewable energy, and climate finance - in other words, what money will be provided to poorer countries to help them not only cut emissions but cope with the extreme weather they are experiencing, too. 

The bottom is a pressing issue at current and it's thought that it will be one of the biggest focuses of this year - after all, it's important for world leaders to discuss how, realistically, they aim to divide financial responsibility.


♬ original sound - CNN

Who will be at COP28? 

Expect to see world leaders, investors, activists and more at the conference. 

It's thought that US President Joe Biden won't be in attendance. 

Confirmed names so far include: 

  • Britain’s King Charles III
  • India’s PM Narendra Modi
  • BlackRock CEO Larry Fink
  • Billionaire investor and philanthropist Bill Gates
  • Influential activist Ineza Umuhoza Grace
  • Popular spiritual leader Sadhguru 
  • President of Brazil, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

What are you hoping to come out of the conference? 

Ways to show your support of COP28

This one's important. While climate change can feel quite daunting at times, it's key to remember that the more you use your voice, the more leaders will have to act.

One of the easiest ways to show your support is to post on social media about the conference, perhaps even sharing what you wish to come out of it. To get the attention of those in power, it's always worth writing to your local MP to stress the importance of the conference, should you have the time. 

Here at MC UK, we'll be running continued coverage throughout the conference, bringing you the latest news and updates.

Ally Head
Senior Health, Sustainability and Relationships Editor

Ally Head is Marie Claire UK's Senior Health, Sustainability, and Relationships Editor, nine-time marathoner, and Boston Qualifying runner. Day-to-day, she works across site strategy, features, and e-commerce, reporting on the latest health updates, writing the must-read health and wellness content, and rounding up the genuinely sustainable and squat-proof gym leggings worth *adding to basket*. She's won a BSME for her sustainability work, regularly hosts panels and presents for events like the Sustainability Awards, and saw nine million total impressions on the January 2023 Wellness Issue she oversaw. Follow Ally on Instagram for more or get in touch.