What is COP 28?

COP 28 is the latest in a series of International Climate Change conferences which will be very much in the news over the next couple of weeks. You may remember the one held in Glasgow (COP 26) in 2021 as it was a major media and political event for the UK at the time. COP is the “Conference of the Parties,” a United Nations meeting held annually where countries governments discuss how to limit and prepare for future climate change. These countries are part of the international treaty called the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This framework commits them to take voluntary actions to prevent “dangerous human-caused interference with the climate system.”

The countries involved take turns hosting an annual meeting at which government representatives report on progress, set intermediate and long-term goals, and make agreements to share scientific and technological advances for the global climate benefit. They also discuss future international climate change policy. From the 30 November to the 12 December 23, the COP28 (28th annual UN climate meeting) is being held in Dubai. It will be a milestone moment when the world will take stock of its progress on the Paris Agreement from 2015 and take noticeable actions on dealing with climate change. However, some COP meetings run more smoothly than others and not all guarantees are kept,

What was the Paris Agreement?

The most positively charged COP was COP 21 in Paris in 2015. This was a landmark agreement to combat climate change and to accelerate and intensify the actions and investments needed for a sustainable low carbon future. The results of the agreement were made a legally binding treaty. World Leaders promised to try to keep global temperatures to well below 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels, and ideally below 1.5°C. The treaty was signed by 196 countries with the richer countries pledging financial assistance to poorer countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Nowadays, the world is on track to get 1.5°C hotter by the 2030s. If the Earth gets even hotter still, disasters are likely to unfold around the planet. Every fraction of a degree's warming will make a dramatic difference to our future, so it was a monumental achievement when leaders agreed to aim for 1.5°C.

Is the UK meeting its climate change goals?

The UK goal is to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. This means that the UK will take out of the atmosphere as much of the global warming gasses it emits into it. In Mar 23, the UK Government had to release a new strategy for net zero as the UK High Court ruled that the net zero strategy: "lacked any quantitative assessment of the contributions expected to be made by individual policies to reductions in [greenhouse gas] emissions..." and did not contain adequate detail on how the climate targets could be met. Since then, UK Policy has changed and is still questionable. Climate change is a very emotive subject at home and abroad.

How does the climate change goals affect me?

Over the years leading up to 2050, you may see changes in the way you will travel, heat your home, and even the food you eat. The UK government is also likely to introduce new policies and regulations to reduce carbon emissions, which could impact your daily life. However, it is important to note that the UK’s climate change goals are part of a global effort to tackle climate change. By reducing greenhouse gas emissions, we can help prevent the worst effects of climate change, such as rising sea levels, more frequent and severe weather events, and loss of biodiversity.

What is COP 28 doing for climate change?

2023 has been a year of powerful extreme weather events which have destroyed lives and livelihoods. Also, during the year there have been plans to manipulate far more fossil fuel reserves than can be safely burned and absorbed by the planet declared by some countries. At COP 28, there will be an international attempt to triple renewable energy sources and reduce fossil fuel use globally. COP 28 will complete the first Global Stocktake which will provide a comprehensive assessment of progress since adopting the Paris Agreement in 2015. The intent is to facilitate the alignment of the challenging work on climate action that has taken place so far and fill any process gaps.

What can you do?

Going green and taking the environment and climate change into account in your daily life is not something that can be done in an instant. An awareness of environmental issues is suggested so you can decide how you may be affected and what is the right course of action. Current media trends show many environmental issues as one-off problems, but they are interrelated at the local and global levels. You do not need to be professionally qualified in environmental subjects to make simple changes which will leave you healthier, happier, and feeling less guilty of your footprint on the planet. If you want to learn more about how climate change is affecting the planet, complete your own environmental impact stocktake and make a change at home and at work, you can learn more about how to deal with environmental concerns by subscribing to one of the environmental themed courses run by WEA.

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Lee Armon
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About the author

Lee Armon

Environmental Science & Sustainability Tutor

Lee is an Environmental Science and Sustainability Tutor at WEA. He is also a Chartered Environmentalist and Chartered Environmental Health Practitioner. In other words, if you want to know anything about climate issues or sustainability, Lee is the person to go to!