COP28 aims for "highest possible ambition" in bid to repair errors from last year

A recent meeting between COP28 president and chief negotiator has cast a positive light on the lead up to this year’s event, as critics hope for stronger, more meaningful commitments than its precursor.

In brief: 
  • The president and chief negotiator of COP28 met to discuss how this year's event will achieve its ambitions 
  • The previous conference was hampered by tense geopolitical relationships, a lack of leadership and trust, and the timing of the event
  • December's conference will be the biggest attended, raising hopes of better progress. 
In detail: 

Expectations are high for the fast-approaching COP28, following a recent meeting between president of COP28, Dr Sultan Al Jaber, and EU Climate commissioner and chief COP28 negotiator, Wopke Hoekstra, in Brussels, Belgium. 

In a joint statement, they said: “COP28 must accelerate practical action on mitigation, adaptation loss and damage, and climate finance, and build a fully inclusive COP28 that leaves no one behind.”

This year’s conference will be held in Dubai, UAE. However, COP28 will face significant challenges, still sitting in the shadow of its precursor, COP27, where world leaders failed to set in motion the urgent climate plans and collective action needed to stop climate change, leaving many feeling disappointed and disillusioned. 

So, can COP28 regain international trust and bring the group back on track to hit its climate goals? 

What went wrong at COP27?

The 27th annual conference of the parties concluded on November 20, 2022, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, after two weeks of high-level events, key negotiations, and press conferences. Its most notable outcome was to establish a fund to compensate developing countries for the loss and damage associated with the impacts of climate change. 

Despite this step, COP27 was quickly dubbed a failure by experts across the globe. 

Academics from University College London (UCL), UK, Mark Maslin, Priti Parikh, Richard Taylor and Simon Chin-Yee, were among the many people speculating on why it failed to deliver on the group’s legacy. 

In an article penned for The Conversation, the group identified a lack of leadership, unfortunate timing, geopolitics and a lack of trust as the four major points that caused COP27 to underwhelm and underdeliver. 

It is now more important than ever that this year’s conference repairs perceived weaknesses and that world leaders set out clear and ambitious goals with appropriate action plans.   

Rebuilding global trust at COP28

This year, Expo City Dubai is expected to welcome more than 70,000 participants, doubling the turnout of its precursor and confirming that leaders see COP28 as a serious and valuable opportunity with international precedence. 

With populations holding world leaders accountable for failures of the past, higher expectations will be on them to not only set new goals, but to deliver on past promises. 

In particular, attendees can expect to be scrutinised on whether they have delivered on the Forests and Climate Leaders’ Partnership and the Global Methane Pledge. Also, on whether developed countries have lived up to financial pledges like the 2023 loss and damage fund. 

To address the ongoing geopolitical tensions, Al Jaber said it is vital that “We must restore faith in multilateralism”. 

This year’s conference in Dubai has already received praise for being the most accessible COP, with the hope of creating a space for world leaders to gather together and find common ground.