COP28: A crucial moment for climate action

Posted on November, 16 2023

World leaders will meet in Dubai to address the climate crisis.

The United Nations climate summit - COP28 - is expected to be the largest and most important international gathering on climate change this year.

What is COP28?

COP28 is the United Nations’ 28th annual climate summit, and it is being held at a critical time for the world.

The past year has seen more record-breaking temperatures and extreme weather events around the world, from drought to catastrophic storms and floods that have devastated lives, economies, and ecosystems. No part of the world is untouched by the impacts of climate change.

We will face even more serious and irreversible damage to society and ecosystems if global warming exceeds 1.5°C. Every fraction of a degree matters now to help people and nature.


The main objective of COP28 is to assess global efforts to keep the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels within reach.

This was agreed by 195 countries in the Paris Agreement in 2015.

To achieve this goal, countries will need to, among other things, phase out fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas), while accelerating the transition to clean energy from renewable sources. This is the most effective way to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

They will also need to provide financial support to developing countries to help them develop and implement their climate plans. As vulnerable countries bear the brunt of climate impacts, they also need finance to help them adapt to climate impacts.

Will governments commit to phasing out fossil fuels at COP28?

Despite more than 80 countries supporting a fossil fuel phase out commitment at COP27, it failed to gain enough support to be included in the final agreement. 

Now, WWF, and people around the world, are urging negotiators to prioritize this issue and include a clear commitment to phase out fossil fuels at COP28.

Over 80% of the world's energy is generated by burning fossil fuels – coal, oil, and gas – which release billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, making them the primary cause of climate change.

The science is clear: if we fail to transition away from fossil fuels and embrace renewable energy sources, we will lose the opportunity to limit global warming to 1.5°C.

The first global stocktake is taking place at COP28. What is it?

The first global stocktake at COP28 will be a critical assessment of how far we have come towards meeting the Paris Agreement's goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

Despite some progress, the world is dangerously off track, and our current actions are woefully inadequate to prevent the worst impacts of the climate crisis.

A dramatic course-correction is needed to reset climate ambition and action. WWF is calling for the global stocktake to be a turning point, leading to more ambitious commitments and immediate action, particularly in key areas like energy, industry, nature, and food systems.

The stakes are high, and the global stocktake is a pivotal moment in charting a sustainable and equitable path to a liveable planet.

What to expect from COP28

The negotiations at COP28 are expected to be difficult. Countries have different priorities and interests, and it will be challenging to reach consensus on all the key issues.

One of the most contentious issues is likely to be the future of fossil fuels. While many countries, campaigners and scientists are pushing for a full "phase out" of fossil fuels, others are trying to water down the language or block action all together

Another key issue is finance. Developing countries need financial support from developed countries to help them reduce emissions and adapt to climate change. However, there is a shortfall in the amount of money that is currently being provided.

What WWF expects from COP28

Our climate and nature experts have been working with partners and governments throughout the year to advocate for more ambitious climate action. 

WWF wants COP28 to be a COP of climate credibility, where words, pledges, and finance are all aligned with the speed and scale of action needed to prevent the worst impacts of the climate crisis.

At the COP, we are calling on government negotiators to ensure the global stocktake results in a roadmap for action that is capable of inspiring and driving countries to implement policies that will rapidly reduce emissions.

Even with rapid emissions reductions, urgent action will still be needed to build the resilience of communities and ecosystems to climate change and weather-related disasters. 

Negotiators need to agree to a framework that can drive action and mobilize considerable finance for building climate resilience for vulnerable people.

At COP27 in 2022 we welcomed the establishment of a Loss and Damage Fund to help channel money to developing countries impacted by extreme weather. 

To make the fund operational, countries need to agree how it will work and pledge substantial new resources towards it and at COP28.

Ultimately, finance is the key to unlocking climate action. We will be looking for evidence of a significant boost in public and private finance for decarbonisation and resilience. 

To build trust between countries and drive action at scale, it is crucial the USD$100 billion per annum target is met and exceeded.



Will COP28 make any difference?

Whether or not COP28 will make a difference depends on a number of factors, including the willingness of world leaders to commit to ambitious actions for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the mobilization of financial resources to support climate action in developing countries, and the ability to overcome the opposition of fossil fuel companies and other vested interests.

COP summits do have the potential to make a difference. For example, the 1.5°C warming limit, agreed in Paris at COP21, has driven "near-universal climate action," according to the UN.COP28 is an opportunity to reset climate ambition in line with limiting global warming to 1.5°C, and to restore trust and hope that we can tackle this crisis together.

The future of the planet depends on it.

WWF is at the heart of the global movement for a net-zero, climate-resilient future. A future where the greenhouse gas levels in our atmosphere are stabilized and where we take active steps to halt the degradation of biodiversity. A huge global effort is required to meet the challenge, but we remain positive.

Find out more: