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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McGrath, Matt. “COP28: Record Number of Fossil Fuel Delegates at Climate Talks.” BBC News, BBC, 5 Dec. 2023,

McGrath, Matt. “Poor Countries Win Fight for Climate Cash at Cop28.” BBC News, BBC, 30 Nov. 2023,

“‘I Wasn’t the Obvious Choice’: Meet the Oil Man Tasked with Saving the Planet.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 7 Oct. 2023,

“‘The Future Is Renewable’: How a Huge Gamble Sealed COP28 Deal.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 15 Dec. 2023,