A day-by-day rundown of the headlines from COP28

With images: a 30-second update from each day of COP

Oliver Bolton

Oliver Bolton

04 Dec, 2023

A day-by-day rundown of the headlines from COP28

Earthly's CEO Olly is on the ground at COP28 and bringing us quick-fire headlines from each day at the summit.

DAY 1, 30th November

COP28 summit starts positively; nearly 200 countries agree on a fund for vulnerable nations facing climate-related extreme weather events.

Significant initial pledges for the fund include $100 million from UAE and Germany each, and contributions from the UK ($50 million), Japan, and the US.

UAE's pledge marks a symbolic shift in the developed-developing nation divide, challenging high-emitting developing countries like China and Saudi Arabia to contribute.

First day of COP28 avoids agenda conflicts; EU and BRICS countries compromise on financial alignment and trade measures discussions.

Key challenges at COP28: reaching agreement on cutting emissions by 50% this decade and fossil fuel phase-out, assessing progress at summit's end.

COP28 President, Dr Sultan Al Jaber

COP28 President, Dr Sultan Al Jaber gives his opening remarks. Credit: Kiara Worth

DAY 2, 1st December

King Charles emphasised unlocking capital for the energy transition, highlighting the importance of finance in climate initiatives.

COP28 President Al Jaber’s announced the launch of Alterra, a $30 billion climate finance vehicle, that aims to catalyse substantial global investment.

Alterra’s partnership with major firms like BlackRock signals serious commitment, but its impact on needy nations remains unclear.

Despite Alterra’s scale, concerns linger about the adequacy of its $5 billion for risk mitigation in developing countries.

The Gates Foundation and UAE commit $100 million each to aid small farmers in climate adaptation, while Bezos Earth Fund invests $57 million in sustainable agriculture, including low-methane livestock.

HE Reem bint Ibrahim Al Hashimi, UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation and Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, speak at the Health session at Al Waha Theatre

HE Reem bint Ibrahim Al Hashimi, UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation and Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, speak at the Health session at Al Waha Theatre. Credit: Mark Field

DAY 3, 2nd December

Exxon, among 50 oil firms, joined the Oil and Gas Decarbonisation Charter, aiming to cut emissions and near-zero methane by 2030.

Critics argue the pact grants undeserved credibility to the fossil fuel industry, without significantly reducing overall fossil fuel consumption.

Debate continues on whether such initiatives provide short-term environmental benefits or merely legitimise the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitters.

WTO Director-General advocates for trade’s role in achieving net zero, emphasising its necessity in the climate solution toolkit.

The Industrial Transition Accelerator focuses on backing emissions-reduction projects in high-polluting sectors, aiming for credible decarbonisation by 2030.

photographers photographing the Vice President of the United States

Photographers capturing Vice President of the United States Kamala Harris. Credit: Christopher Pike

DAY 4, 3rd December

Over 200 top executives, including BlackRock's Larry Fink, meet in Dubai to discuss climate-focused blended finance initiatives.

Blended finance combines public and private funds, utilising public backstops to encourage private investment in climate projects.

Mark Carney highlights the importance of blending funds to fill the finance gap for green initiatives in emerging markets.

The UAE's $30 billion Alterra investment vehicle showcases the rising trend of blended finance in climate change discussions.

Al Gore criticises emission reporting at COP28, emphasising the need for accurate climate change mitigation assessments.

Kamala Harris, Vice President of the United States

Kamala Harris, Vice President of the United States, speaks onstage during the High-Level Segment for Heads of State and Government. Credit: Christopher Pike

DAY 5, 4th December

Sultan Al Jaber, COP28 President and head of a national oil company, faced allegations of disregarding the science behind fossil fuel phase-out, which IPCC head Jim Skea addressed, affirming Al Jaber’s understanding of the matter.

The IPCC projects scenarios to limit global warming to 1.5C, where some fossil fuel usage in 2050 is anticipated due to green energy limitations, with carbon capture being key to managing emissions alongside a pressing need for substantial fossil fuel reduction.

Echoing scientific consensus, US climate envoy John Kerry stressed the critical need for immediate and substantial reductions in unabated fossil fuel usage, underscoring this as a pivotal focus at COP28.

Fatih Birol, the International Energy Agency’s executive director, set a notable target for oil companies: a 60% cut in their Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2030, marking a significant step in global climate initiatives.

Highlighting renewable energy advancements at COP28, the World Bank is harnessing momentum for climate action, Adani Green Energy announces a $22 billion renewable investment, and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners launch a $3 billion fund for green power in emerging markets.

Participants pose for a group photo at the UN Climate Change Conference COP28 at Expo City

Participants pose for a group photo at Expo City. Credit: Christopher Edralin

DAY 6, 5th December

John Kerry criticised Chevron Corp. at the Bloomberg Green Summit for inadequate action against global warming, noting their absence from a methane reduction commitment by 50 oil and gas producers.

Kerry emphasised the lack of evidence that Chevron and others are fulfilling necessary actions for combating climate change, highlighting a broader industry issue.

Al Gore criticised petrostates, especially Saudi Arabia, for their oversized influence in climate negotiations, hindered by a consensus-based approach.

Gore reacted to Saudi Arabia’s rejection of fossil fuel phase-down commitments, expressing concern over achieving substantial climate agreements.

Despite challenges, Kerry remains optimistic about reaching a compromise in climate talks, suggesting a realistic approach with appropriate terminology and framework.

Speakers panel at the Youth and Education session at Al Waha Theatre

A panel of speakers at the Youth and Education session. Credit: Mark Field

DAY 7, 6th December

Vladimir Putin visits the UAE emphasising the region’s ongoing reliance on fossil fuels and its strategic reliance on OPEC+ unity in energy matters.

Russia endorses a US-led initiative to enhance nuclear power capacity, with Deputy Economy Minister Ilyichev citing its importance for climate goals.

John Kerry supports phasing out fossil fuels and emphasises the necessity of carbon capture technology for mid-century net zero targets.

Despite concerns over fossil fuels at COP, significant achievements include progress on renewables and a potential impactful methane reduction plan.

With a day of rest tomorrow, COP28's second week focuses on intense negotiations, tackling fossil fuel usage, climate finance, and bridging developed-developing economy gaps.

HE Razan Al Mubarak, President of the International Union for Conservation of Nature

H.E Razan Al Mubarak, President of the International Union for Conservation of Nature speaks during the Nature Session. Credit: Stuart Wilson

DAY 8, rest day

DAY 9, 8th December

COP28 president, under pressure to fulfill his promise, aims to make these talks the most significant since the Paris Agreement in 2015.

Sultan Al Jaber's early success with the loss and damage fund is overshadowed by the focus on the final agreement on fossil fuels.

The latest draft negotiation text offers four options regarding fossil fuels, ranging from no mention of dirty energy to a full phase-out.

Al Jaber is considering all views, including Saudi Arabia's opposition to fossil fuel reduction, as key energy ministers show unity at COP28.

Other critical issues include the stalled talks on a global adaptation goal, posing a silent threat to a smooth conclusion of the negotiations.

Media Centre during the UN Climate Change Conference

Activity in the Media Centre during COP28 at Expo City Dubai. Credit: Christopher Edrain

DAY 10, 9th December

Despite no major headlines, significant behind-the-scenes progress occurred at COP, with negotiations and activism continuing as if on a weekday.

High-level talks between China and the US, led by envoys Xie Zhenhua and John Kerry, signal a positive direction, though details remain undisclosed.

Deliberations on a framework for tracking adaptation to climate change are stalled, with disagreements over finance definitions and strategic trade-offs.

The largest protest at this COP occurred, with activists demanding fossil fuel phase-out, Gaza ceasefire, climate justice, financial support for developing nations, and organic farming.

Climate and gender activist Karin Watson expresses urgency for fossil fuel phase-out decisions, highlighting increased restrictions on protests at this year’s COP.

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, President of the Federative Republic of Brazil and Marina Silva

An emotional Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, President of the Federative Republic of Brazil, with Marina Silva, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change of Brazil, during the Nature Session. Credit: Stuart Wilson

DAY 11, 10th December

Sultan Al Jaber, COP28 President, aims for a groundbreaking agreement and on-time conclusion, yet faces typical late-stage challenges in negotiations.

Al Jaber emphasises the need for consensus on fossil fuel reduction in COP28's final text, seeking compromise amidst diverse global stances.

China's Xie Zhenhua proposes linking fossil fuel decline with renewable energy growth, as Al Jaber hosts a traditional Arabian majlis to facilitate discussions.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock advocates for complete fossil fuel phase-out, highlighting the rhetorical fervor amidst tough negotiations at COP28.

The potential resolution of COP28's key issues may depend on diplomatic discussions between UAE's Mohammed bin Zayed and Saudi Arabia's Mohammed bin Salman.

planet is our playground panel

Panelists on the Extreme Hangout stage during the The Planet Is Our Playground panel in the Green Zone. Credit: Neville Hopwood

DAY 12, 11th December

Negotiators from nearly 200 countries received a new draft text at Dubai Expo City, sparking analysis and debate among delegates.

The current 21-page document, less stringent than previous drafts, proposes optional mid-century fossil fuel cuts, emphasising a just, orderly, and equitable transition.

Vulnerable nations, including small island states, express frustration over the lack of a specific timeframe for fossil fuel phase-out.

For the first time, major oil producers like Saudi Arabia engage in discussions on including oil and gas language in COP text.

COP28 President Sultan Al Jaber urges high ambition on fossil fuel language, working overnight for consensus, despite doubts about meeting the conference deadline.

brazillian campaigner at cop

A colourful COP28 attendee at Expo City, Dubai. Credit: Walaa Alshaer