What is COP28? The UN Climate Summit, Explained

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The annual United Nations climate summit will start next week in Dubai — a yearly meeting where countries of the world negotiate how, in the words of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, to “prevent dangerous [human] interference with the climate system.”

What is COP28?

COP stands for Conference of the Parties, where the parties are 197 states and one regional economic organization that have signed the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the parent agreement of the 2015 Paris Agreement.

The first COP was in 1995; this is the 28th annual meeting in the COP series. It will take place in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Nov. 30 to Dec. 12.

In addition to government representatives, the meetings can be attended by accredited “observer” non-governmental and inter-governmental organizations and media. This year’s conference is expected to draw more than 70,000 delegates.

Alongside the conference, as usual, there will be an area called the “green zone,” featuring climate-related exhibits and events that are open to businesses and the general public. 

What’s the point of COP meetings?

While all the parties signed on to the 1992 framework that aimed to “protect the climate system for the benefit of present and future generations of humankind,” the framework didn’t say how that would be done.

According to the UN, the goal of the annual meetings is to determine “ambition and responsibilities, and identify and assess climate measures.” In other words, countries are supposed to agree on what to do next to cut the greenhouse gases that are causing climate change.

They also need to adapt to and limit the damage from changes that are already happening, such as hotter weather and more flooding, droughts, and wildfires, especially in poorer and more vulnerable parts of the world.

President William Ruto is expected to attend this year’s summit.

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