The UAE will call its climate conference a ‘citizen’s summit’ in a global effort to boost diplomacy on climate change

A global climate conference to be held in Dubai will be called COP28 instead of the more familiar UN Climate Change Conference (COP23), the head of the United Arab Emirates government announced on Thursday.

The decision could have a major impact on the short-term future of climate policy, many observers said. If successfully implemented, the UAE’s statement that it intends to be a good global citizen to the world at large could be a key factor in deciding where to host future climate conferences.

Dubai, home to some of the world’s largest oil fields, has not yet agreed to participate in efforts to stabilise carbon emissions, a top climate change priority for the UAE, Norway and the European Union. As part of a series of “draconian” emissions cut targets, the UAE must decarbonize its electricity generation by 2030.

However, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, said that hosting an international climate conference was among the government’s “competencies”.

“We are confident that a conference hosted in the UAE will continue to promote the wise future direction and future goals of the United Arab Emirates in harmony with the highest aspirations of the United Nations and its member states,” said Sheikh Mohammed, who was accompanied by his younger brother, his vice president and prime minister, Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and his energy minister, Suhail bin Mohammed Faraj Faraj, at the announcement on Thursday.

Faraj said: “This decision was taken because of the UAE government’s ongoing commitment towards combating climate change and the UAE’s readiness to contribute to any constructive international discussions that aim to address the challenges related to environmental sustainability and the environment.”

According to the statement, the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs welcomed the decision, which would take the climate conference to the Emirate of Dubai from January 9 to January 14, 2023.

“UNEP continues to support the UN climate process as a meaningful international forum and we look forward to working with the government of the UAE and others to develop plans for a more sustainable, resilient and low-carbon future,” Achim Steiner, UNEP’s executive director, said.

A main source of disagreement over the past few years has been the location of the next global climate change summit, called COP23, in Bonn, Germany, which is set to take place in late November or early December this year.

Organisers of COP21 in Paris, which took place in 2015, announced the location of the next summit a year before that conference and decided to hold it in Morocco in 2020.

However, UN climate talks on climate action have also started to give increasing attention to the importance of creating trusted working relationships between host nations and the international community.

“With other successful examples of hosting international events and working with other countries to improve their work on climate change and protecting the environment, the UAE, a world leader in sustainability, seems to have the capacity and ability to be a good global citizen and help shape the global picture for the future,” said Thea Barros, head of communications at the business lobby, World Resources Institute.

“The forthcoming meeting could set a positive example for others to follow.”

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