(Editor’s note: This article was first published on Nov. 30, 2023, and most recently updated on Dec. 13, 2023. New material is noted in red as “New” or Updated.”)

The 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) is taking place in Dubai from Nov. 30 to Dec. 12. Last year, during COP27, diplomats from nearly 200 states inked a last-minute agreement to compensate developing countries for climate disasters exacerbated by wealthy countries’ emissions — or “loss and damages” payments — after tense negotiations. On the first day of COP28, countries finalized a landmark loss and damage deal, with the United Arab Emirates and Germany both pledging an initial $100 million. Details of the fund, which is to be launched by 2024, will be ironed out by the World Bank.

All eyes are also on the United States and China, the world’s two biggest economies. Recently, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry concluded five days of talks with his counterpart from China ahead of COP28. Though there appeared to be few concrete breakthroughs, the United States has said there was “common ground on a number of issues,” while China described the meeting as yielding “positive results.” Over 100 world leaders are slated to speak at the conference, though U.S. President Joe Biden will be skipping out; Vice President Kamala Harris will be attending in his stead.

During the next two weeks, Just Security will highlight key developments at COP28. We invite readers to regularly check this page for the latest COP commentary as it is updated to reflect the conference’s meetings, speeches, notable quotes, expert analyses, and more. 

I. Relevant Expert Analysis 

1. Expert Analysis

New commentary and analysis on issues discussed during COP28. This section will be regularly updated as expert analysis is published.

2. Archival Pieces

Articles published earlier by Just Security on topics discussed or issues likely to be addressed during COP28.

Climate Diplomacy

Climate and Justice

Climate and National Security

Climate and Disasters

  1. Broader Lessons About Resilience from Maui’s Fires
    Daniel P. Aldrich (@DanielPAldrich) highlights how communities can lay foundations for social and infrastructure resilience and recovery in the face of disasters. 
  2. Meeting the Climate Moment Requires a Coherent Climate Disaster Strategy
    Sarah Labowitz (@SarahLabo) claims that disaster recovery occupies an ill-defined space in Congress and the U.S. national security bureaucracy, leaving the country poorly prepared to meet the demands of climate change. 

Climate and the Courts

3. Collections

  • Climate Archive
    A comprehensive catalog of articles organizing Just Security’s coverage of the climate crisis, from its human rights and justice implications to issues of migration, national security, and geopolitics. 

II. Relevant Documents

1. Reports

III. Key Meetings and Speeches

NEW December 13, 2023

For the first time in a COP, states approved a final agreement calling for “transitioning away from fossil fuels.” The text urges countries to shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources in a “just, orderly and equitable manner.” Though the agreement is not legally binding, leaders hope that its language will motivate nations to curb greenhouse gas emissions. “Humanity has finally done what is long, long overdue,” said Wopke Hoekstra, the European Commissioner for Climate Action. “Thirty years — 30 years! — we spent to arrive at the beginning of the end of fossil fuels.”

António Guterres (@antonioguterres), Secretary-General, United Nations

  • To those who opposed a clear reference to a phaseout of fossil fuels in the COP28 text, I want to say that a fossil fuel phase out is inevitable whether they like it or not. Let’s hope it doesn’t come too late.”
  • “It is essential to come together around real, practical and meaningful climate solutions that match the scale of the climate crisis.”

Simon Stiell (@simonstiell), Executive Secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

  • “While we didn’t fully turn the page on fossil fuel here in Dubai, this is clearly the beginning of the end. This agreement is an ambitious floor, not a ceiling. So, the crucial years ahead must keep ramping up ambition and climate action.”

Anne Rasmussen, Lead Negotiator, Alliance of Small Island States

  • “[We cannot] afford to return to [our] islands with the message that this process has failed us.”
  • “[There was] incremental advancement over business as usual, when what we really needed was an exponential step-change in our actions and support.”

NEW December 12, 2023

After stalls in talks, negotiators went into overtime to determine the language of the COP28 final agreement. States have failed to reach a consensus on whether to include calling for an explicit “phase out” of fossil fuels, or suggest options countries “could” take to reduce oil, gas, and coal emissions. Negotiators representing small island nations have condemned the latter, saying that the text would be a “death certificate” for the countries most vulnerable to climate change. Meanwhile, oil-producing countries, including Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, have said that they would not support an agreement with phase out language.

December 11, 2023

A day before the conclusion of COP28, Secretary-General António Guterres spoke with the media and reaffirmed the importance of keeping the 1.5 degrees Celsius goal “alive.” Guterres urged countries to “move beyond arbitrary red lines, entrenched positions and blocking tactics” by achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 to combat climate change. He warned negotiators that “there is nowhere to hide” and expressed the positive role of multilateralism in climate discussions. “One thing is for certain: ‘I win — you lose’ is a recipe for collective failure. Ultimately it is eight billion people’s security that is at stake,” said Guterres.

António Guterres (@antonioguterres), Secretary-General, United Nations

  • “We need all commitments made by developed countries on finance and adaptation to be met – fully and transparently. We need increased capital and reform of the business model of multilateral development banks to increase direct support – and to leverage far more private finance at reasonable costs for developing countries’ climate action efforts. And we need far more adaptation ambition.”
  • “The next two years are vital. First, to establish a new and meaningful global climate finance goal beyond 2025, reflecting the scale and urgency of the climate challenge. Second, for governments to prepare and present new national climate action plans – or Nationally Determined Contributions – that are economy-wide, cover all greenhouse gases, and are fully aligned with the 1.5-degree temperature limit. Governments must leave Dubai with a clear understanding of what is required between now and COP30 in Brazil.”

Greg Puley (@GPuley), Head, United Humanitarian Affairs Office’s Climate Team

  • “We’ve seen around the world a huge increase in the last 20 years and an 800 percent increase in climate-related humanitarian appeals. That means people in vulnerable communities are being impacted much more now by droughts, by floods, by extreme heat, by wildfires, by severe storms. And this is driving major new humanitarian needs.”
  • “We don’t want to just be dealing with the impacts of climate change. We need to have very fast and very radical reductions in carbon emissions so that global warming slows and ultimately stops, so we can minimize these impacts.”

December 10, 2023

As the deadline to produce the COP28 final agreement nears, summit president Sultan al-Jaber convened a conference featuring all member countries. He called on states to break stalls in the negotiation process and accept compromises. “I want everyone to come prepared with solutions,” said al-Jaber. “I really want everyone to rise above self-interests and to start thinking of the common good.”

On the sidelines of the discussions, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) produced a roadmap to achieve global food security without surging past the 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold set by the Paris Agreement. Featuring 120 action points, the roadmap calls on states to direct climate finance towards agriculture and develop sustainable food systems. “We need policymakers to act. We need the civil society to be mobilized and the private sector to understand that making better choices today means making investments more sustainable and more profitable for tomorrow,” said David Laborde, Director of the Agrifood Economics Division at FAO.

Amina Mohammed (@AminaJMohammed), Deputy Secretary-General, United Nations

  • “Leadership and operational relationships with local actors, including the private sector, food industry groups, food sector associations, civil society, and citizen groups, are key to ensure robust and sustainable supply chains. Together, all actors must work jointly to transform food systems to adapt to climate change and ensure global food security, compatible to the 2030 Agenda.”

Inger Andersen (@andersen_inger), Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme

  • “The private sector has a huge step, an opportunity here [in making food systems more sustainable], both when it comes to alternatives but also when it comes to smart farming that has less of a carbon footprint. And, of course, we, the consumers, have a responsibility: is the thing that we pick up in the supermarket deforestation-free? Do we know how much pesticide insecticides were used? Was it very water efficient?”

December 9, 2023

Countries continued debating the details of the COP28 final agreement. Oil-producing countries, including Saudi Arabia and Russia, insist that the agreement should focus on reducing climate pollution rather than specifically addressing fossil fuels. This follows a letter from OPEC Secretary General Haitham al-Ghais, who urged the organization’s members to reject language referring to “any text or formula that targets energy i.e. fossil fuels rather than emissions.” Meanwhile, eighty countries — including the United States and European Union — have called on a phase-out of fossil fuels. Countries most vulnerable to climate change have strongly criticized al-Ghais’s letter. “Nothing puts the prosperity and future of all people on earth, including all the citizens of OPEC countries, at greater risk than fossil fuels,” said Marshall Islands climate envoy Tina Stege.

Mirey Atallah (@REDDBluethroat), Head, Nature for Climate Branch, United Nations Environment Programme

  • “Environmental degradation is seen as a long-term economic cost rather than a short-term financial return, and we need to start flipping that so that we internalize the cost of natural degradation and that starts providing also a stronger incentive for governments, for public institutions, for regulators in order to go in the direction to steer investments in the direction of nature positive.”

Niki Mardas (@nikimardas), Executive Director, Global Canopy

  • “The single biggest action we can take for nature, climate and people is to green finance. We need to finance green, but we also need to green that $7 trillion of finance. Otherwise, we’ll always be stuck in this loop.”

December 8, 2023

The UNFCCC released an updated draft of the COP28 final agreement, which currently lists multiple options regarding the use of fossil fuels on the table. The choices range from a “phase out of fossil fuels in line with best available science” and phasing out “unabated fossil fuels” to entirely dropping fossil fuels from the agreement. While some countries felt hopeful that the agreement could conclude with historic language calling to phase out fossil fuels, others expressed concern, particularly from the perspective of climate justice. “We do not deny the impact of climate change, but every country cannot be put on the same standard when it comes to the transition,” said Malaysian Climate Minister Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad.

Meanwhile, young activists convened at a youth dialogue event to give remarks. They delivered a global statement, which includes input from over 150 countries, calling for leaders to endorse climate policies that would limit global warming over 1.5 degrees Celsius. “‘The global statement is an excellent example of how we are able to show… what we really care about, and to show the audience why we are here,” said climate activist Amelia Turk.

Yasmine Sherif (@YasmineSherif1), Executive Director, Education Cannot Wait

  • “[Children experiencing climate-worsened disasters] are haunted and suffering twofold. One from the conflict, which is already bad enough. And then, on top of it, there’s a climate change-induced disaster that makes it even more difficult for them to attend school and to have hope for the future.”
  • “[Climate change and disrupted education] is related to a new generation that is, first of all, not educated, and secondly, has no knowledge about climate change and certainly cannot take over to adaptability, mitigation, prevention of climate change.”

Mashkur Isa (@IsaMashkur), Ambassador, YOUNGO

  • “Despite our continuous calls for ambitious climate action, our children and youth are absent from climate discussions, commitments and policymaking. Parties must protect our interests by immediately placing the voices of children and youth at the center of all levels of climate change decision-making.”

December 7, 2023

As countries concluded the first week of COP28 in Dubai, International Monetary Fund (IMF) Spokesperson Julie Kozack addressed comments regarding the conference from Washington, DC. Kozack emphasized the IMF’s role in combating climate change, specifically through carbon pricing and removing fossil fuel subsidies. Climate financing “will need to come from the private sector and through coordinated action by multilateral development banks, the official sector,” said Kozack during a press briefing.

Julie Kozack (@IMFSpokesperson), Spokesperson, International Monetary Fund

  • “The removal of fossil fuel subsidies is a critical step in decarbonization… [The IMF] recognize[s] the need for financing, for decarbonization to step up.”

December 6, 2023

The day’s sessions focused on transportation, a sector responsible for a substantial amount of carbon dioxide emissions. Panel topics included expanding electric vehicle charging infrastructure and decarbonizing urban freight transportation.

While countries continued discussions, Executive Secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change Simon Stiell updated media on stalled progress over the text of the Global Stocktake. This year’s COP will conclude with the first Global Stocktake, in which countries and stakeholders will announce their progress towards achieving the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement, as well as declare steps to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. “On the Global Stocktake, we have a starting text on the table,” said Stiell. “But it’s a grab bag of wishlists and heavy on posturing… The key now is to sort the wheat from the chaff.”

Simon Stiell (@simonstiell), Executive Secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

  • “Loss and damage was a win. But we’re kidding ourselves if we think it ticks the entire box for finance and support at this COP. More is required.”
  • “There are many options that are on the table right now which speak to the phasing out of fossil fuels. It is for parties to unpick that but come up with a very clear statement that signals the terminal decline of the fossil fuel era as we know it.”

December 5, 2023

On Energy Transition Day, more than 60 countries signed a pledge to reduce emissions stemming from the cooling sector. Conventional cooling, which includes air conditioning and refrigeration, contributes to over seven percent of overall greenhouse gas emissions. The pledge outlines steps to increase access to cooling systems, improve the efficiency of these systems, and lower their energy use. “Business-as-usual growth would [otherwise] double [the cooling sector’s] greenhouse gas emissions by 2050,” said the U.N. Environment Programme Executive Director, Inger Andersen.

John Kerry, the U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate Change, also announced a plan to bolster nuclear fusion technology. The plan, which currently has support from 35 countries, aims to research, develop, and harness nuclear fusion to lower greenhouse gas emissions. Nuclear energy can “revolutionize our world, change all of the options in front of us and provide the world with abundant and clean energy without the harmful emissions of traditional energy sources,” said Kerry.

Lily Riahi (@lilyriahi), Global Coordinator, Cool Coalition

  • “Cooling is also about climate justice because it’s often those who are most vulnerable, who are hardest hit by the rising temperatures and the impacts of climate change and have the least access to cooling. 1.2 billion people today don’t have access to cooling.”

Rania Harrara, Climate Activist and Feminist, Girl Up Morocco

  • [Speaking about the siege of Gaza] “We cannot sit here and talk about climate justice without talking about human rights.”

Lisa Göldner (@lisagoeldner), Lead Campaigner, Greenpeace

  • “Fossil fuels kill. Today’s emissions will be tomorrow’s deaths. Phasing out fossil fuels is a matter of life and death, so governments need to act now to ban new fossil fuel projects and force fossil fuel companies to rapidly cut their emissions.”

December 4, 2023

COP28 President Sultan Al-Jaber held a press conference clarifying his recent statements regarding the need to phase out fossil fuels. Today, he said, “I have said over and over that the phase down and the phase out of fossil fuel is inevitable.”

At a meeting of environmental ministers that grew out of the Global Methane Pledge the United States and European Union launched at COP26, which has been signed by 155 countries and which aims to reduce powerful greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate Change John Kerry promised to track methane leaks and the carbon footprints of international companies through NASA satellites and to “name and shame” entities that may be violating agreements to cut their emissions.

The World Bank unveiled the relaunch of the Global Flaring and Methane Reduction Partnership that will allow developing countries and their national oil companies to access an initial $255 million in grants to reduce methane emissions. The United States, United Arab Emirates, Germany, Norway, and various oil companies have contributed to the fund.

Amina Mohammed (@AminaJMohammed), Deputy Secretary-General, United Nations

  • “Women stand at the forefront of the climate battle. Whether as the scientists, legislators, indigenous leaders, youth activists, they are fighting to keep the 1.5 Celsius target alive.”

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (@NOIweala), Director General, World Trade Organization

  • “We want a globalization that will include those who are left out at the margin, a more inclusive globalization.”

Selwin Charles Hart (@SelwinHart), Special Advisor to the Secretary-General on Climate Action and Just Transition, United Nations

  • “No one is saying that fossil fuels will disappear tomorrow. But for this transition to be manageable, well managed and orderly, for it also to be fair and equitable, it requires governments, and it also requires the industry as well to act in good faith.”

December 3, 2023

Leaders of health, environment and finance convened to deliver addresses and make announcements at the first-ever Health Day in a COP. The day included events focused on raising awareness of the climate change-health nexus, bolstering public-private partnerships for healthcare and climate change, and coordinating a health-conscious response to climate change. “Although the climate crisis is a health crisis, it’s well overdue that 27 COPs have gone without a serious discussion of health. No more,” said World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Meanwhile, U.N. Secretary General António Guterres criticized a pledge brought forth by 49 oil and gas corporations to decrease emissions. The plan, signed by industry giants including ExxonMobil and Saudi Arabia’s Aramco, aims to reduce methane leaks from operations to “near zero” by 2030. But, the agreement “provided no clarity on the pathway to reaching net zero by 2050” and amounts to “greenwashing,” according to Guterres.

António Guterres (@antonioguterres), Secretary-General, United Nations

  • “The fossil fuel industry — the giant behind the climate crisis — is finally starting to wake up. But the promises made clearly fall short of what is required.”
  • “To meet the 1.5-degree limit of the Paris Agreement, greenhouse gas emissions must fall 45 per cent by 2030, compared to 2010 levels. But under national plans that are currently known they are set to increase by 9 per cent.”

Reudji Kaiabi, Youth Activist, Engajamundo

  • “This is my first time at COP, and my intention as an indigenous youth is to not just see change in my territory but the entire world. Our ask is to be heard, to be respected, and to be taken into account in the decision making.”

December 2, 2023

On the third day of talks, more than 120 countries endorsed the COP28 UAE Declaration on Climate and Health. The declaration recognizes links between climate change and health by bolstering cross-sectoral collaboration, acknowledging the need to protect communities from extreme heat, infectious diseases, and air pollution, and scaling up climate and health solutions. The World Health Organization Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, applauded this development, noting that “for too long, health has been a footnote in climate discussions.” The declaration set the scene for COP28’s Health Day, set to occur on December 3.

The day also marked the end of the Global Climate Action Summit, which included an event hosted by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). The panel spotlighted the role of information communication technologies in monitoring climate change and developing early warning systems. “We have to build a future where digital technology and climate action go hand in hand,” said ITU Secretary-General Doreen Bogdan-Martin.

António Guterres (@antonioguterres), Secretary-General, United Nations

  • “What we must avoid at all costs is a compromise based on minimum ambition on mitigation and minimum ambition on climate justice. Because developing countries would be losing twice, would be losing because there is no climate justice and be losing because without effective mitigation, the dramatic impacts of climate change will be [suffered], especially by vulnerable populations in the global South.”

Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez (@DiazCanelB), President, Cuba

  • “The South cannot be forced to choose between development and climate action. Both factors are indissolubly linked.”

Joyce Msuya (@JoyceMsuya), Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Emergency Coordinator, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

  • “We know there is no humanitarian solution to the climate crisis, but in places like Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Myanmar, the Sahel, there cannot be a solution without humanitarians. And there is much, much more we need to do to act ahead of disasters, to build resilience at the same time as we are working to save lives.”

December 1, 2023

World leaders kicked off the first day of the Global Climate Action Summit, during which heads of state and government will announce their countries’ climate proposals and commitments. Countries, including Italy and the Netherlands, also announced contributions to the newly-operationalized loss and damage fund. Meanwhile, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi criticized the disparities between carbon emissions emitted by developed countries and their developing counterparts. “Entire humanity is paying the price for [climate change], especially people living in the global south,” said Modi.

The talks also underscored the role food plays in climate change. More than 130 countries signed the Emirates Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems and Climate Action, which will require states to include food emissions in their nationally determined contributions (NDCs). “Transforming our food systems is paramount to protecting nature, safeguarding food and nutrition security, and combatting climate change,” noted Razan Al Mubarak, the U.N. Climate Change High-Level Champion for COP28.

António Guterres (@antonioguterres), Secretary-General, United Nations

  • “Allow me to have a message for fossil fuel company leaders: Your old road is rapidly aging. Do not double down on an obsolete business model. Lead the transition to renewables using the resources you have available. Make no mistake — the road to climate sustainability is also the only viable pathway to the economic sustainability of your companies in the future.”
  • “Protecting our climate is the world’s greatest test of leadership. And so, I urge you to lead. Humanity’s fate hangs in the balance. Make this COP count.”

Charles Michel (@eucopresident), President, European Council

  • “The Earth belongs to our children. This is not an advertising slogan; it is an existential reality. The decade ahead is crucial, and we are fully mobilized to work with each of you to protect humanity.”

November 30, 2023

On the first day of COP28, countries approved details for the operationalization of the loss and damage fund. High-income countries will pay into the fund voluntarily, and the World Bank will serve as interim host of the fund for four years — ending an impasse between high- and low-income countries on the proper entity to administer the fund. COP28 host the United Arab Emirates, the European Union, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States have already pledged millions.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Executive Secretary Simon Stiell warned that it has been the “hottest year ever for humanity.” He continued, “If we do not signal the terminal decline of the fossil fuel era as we know it, we welcome our own terminal decline. And we choose to pay with people’s lives.” His comments were in stark contrast to those of COP28 President Sultan Al-Jaber, an oil CEO, who pitched oil and gas corporations as capable of “lead[ing] the way” to climate accountability.

Earlier in the day, the U.N. World Meteorological Organization had released a report indicating that world temperatures are 1.4 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial baseline. 1.5 degrees Celsius is the limit agreed to by leaders in the Paris Agreement signed in 2015.

António Guterres (@antonioguterres), Secretary-General, United Nations

  • “Things are moving so fast that a full month before the end of the year, we can already declare that 2023 is the hottest year recorded in human history.”
  • “We have the roadmap to limit the rise in global temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius and avoid the worst of climate chaos. But we need leaders to fire the starting gun at COP28 on a race to keep the 1.5-degree limit alive.”

Simon Stiell (@simonstiell), Executive Secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

  • “If we do not signal the terminal decline of the fossil fuel era as we know it, we welcome our own terminal decline. And we choose to pay with people’s lives.”
  • “Attending a COP does not tick the climate box for the year. The badges around [politicians’] necks make [them] responsible for delivering climate action here and at home.”
  • “Every word or comma you wrestle with here at COP, there is a human being, family, a community that depends on you.”

IMAGE: Women walk past a sign of the COP28 ahead of the United Nations climate summit in Dubai on November 28, 2023. (Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP via Getty Images)