The biggest climate conference ever held was the 28th annual United Nations Climate Change Conference, commonly called COP28, that took place in Dubai over 30 November to 13 December 2023.  More than 190 countries were represented, with King Charles of the United Kingdom giving the opening address.

There was, of course, some controversy: the president of COP28 was Sultan al-Jaber, head of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company.  Climate campaigners considered this inappropriate and illogical, but in his own words, “not having oil and gas and high-emitting industries on the same table is not the right thing to do. We need to reimagine this relationship between producers and consumers. We need this integrated approach.”  In fact, around 2,400 delegates connected to the coal, oil, and gas industries were in attendance, a number that has quadrupled from COP27.

For the first time, countries agreed on the need to start “transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly and equitable manner, accelerating action in this critical decade, so as to achieve net zero by 2050 in keeping with the science”.  

At the meeting, a landmark deal was also made to commit US$700m to the loss and damage fund to rehabilitate vulnerable countries affected by the climate crisis.  This fund was agreed at COP27 with the idea that wealthier countries pay poorer countries.  For decades, richer nations have been veering away from paying for their historic carbon emissions.  The US, for instance, wanted to make clear that its contribution to the fund was not compensation for past emissions.

Although its critics accuse the conference of letting business and governments promote climate credentials and policies without actually implementing the, the COP summits are important.  They offer the potential for global agreements, such as the 1.5C warming limit which was agreed on at COP21.

At the end of the day, it is up to the world to put into practice the resolutions of COP28 and future COPs.


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It is fair to say that climate change does not discriminate based on country – it is a global issue, although poorer nations tend to face greater effects from emissions. The Paris Agreement is a legally-binding international treaty, the world’s first in the field of climate change, bringing virtually all nations together to fight climate change. So significant and important is the agreement that US President Joe Biden recommitted to it on his first day in office in January 2021.

Entered into force in 2016, goals of the Paris Agreement are to:

Limit global warming to 1.5°C by the end of the 21st century and to keep them well below 2.0°C above pre-industrial levels.  Crossing the 1.5°C mark would put the world at risk of even more severe impacts on climate change and even more extreme weather.
Limit greenhouse gas emissions to the same levels that trees, soi, and oceans can naturally absorb between 2050 and 2100.  This is what we otherwise call “net zero”.

For the Paris Agreement to work, countries must submit their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) in which they specify the actions they will take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build resilience to adapt to rising temperatures. Every five years, countries are expected to update their NDCs.  Subsequent NDCs are meant to be more ambitious than the previous ones. Countries are also encouraged, but not required, to submit long-term strategies.

Developing countries produce more than half of today’s greenhouse gases but are limited by finances and capacity. These countries have been demanding funds for loss and damage incurred from the effects of climate change. Developed countries are therefore expected to take the lead in providing financial assistance (or climate finance) to more vulnerable countries and support them in their emissions control and adaptation efforts. At COP27 in 2022, countries agreed to setting up a fund, and at COP28, US$700m was committed.

However, the strength of the Paris Agreement, being an all-nations cooperative effort, is dependent on its many participants to remain committed to the joint task. Scientist also argue the need to assess the progress made toward its goals every year.


“The Paris Agreement.” Unfccc.Int, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Accessed 18 Nov. 2023.

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Stallard, Esme. “Why Is the Paris Climate Agreement Still Important?” BBC News, BBC, 27 Nov. 2023,

Poynting, Mark. “What Was Agreed on Climate Change at COP28 in Dubai?” BBC News, BBC, 13 Dec. 2023,