Cop28 bulletin: Welcome to Dubai

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UN climate change head Simon Stiell walks around the Expo City venue (Photo credit: Kiara Worth/UNFCCC)


Dubai airport is filling up with Cop delegates, who are passing quickly through immigration without having to show their visas. 

Their Uber rides are taking them along highways flanked by banners from Saudi Arabia’s Green Initiative, urging them to visit their pavilion. 

Many are popping in their complimentary sim cards, handed over with your passport by immigration officials. 

But others are suspicious of this free gift. With the UAE’s reputation for cyber-spying, there’s talk of VPNs, burner phones and not using the venue’s wifi, QR codes or app (after last year’s controversy). 

Whether its paranoia or they’re really out to get us, many are taking precautions. 

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On the defensive 

And Sultan Al Jaber thinks they’re out to get him too. The Center for Climate Reporting revealed that talking points were drawn up for him for Cop28 meetings with foreign governments, which included lobbying for fossil fuel deals for the oil and gas company he heads. 

Asked about it in a press conference yesterday, Al Jaber laughed and said the reporting was “an attempt to undermine the work of the Cop28 presidency”. 

While he did not dispute the authenticity of the talking points prepared for him, he claimed he had not seen them and did not use them. He added that he and the UAE didn’t need the Cop28 presidency to make business deals.

Sultan Al Jaber addresses questions at a press conference yesterday (Photo credit: Kiara Worth/UNFCCC)

Agenda agreed 

Al Jaber’s diplomats appear to have passed their first test with flying colours, as they persuaded negotiators not to add new items to the Cop28 agenda. 

Groups of developing countries put a series of issues forward as agenda items including developed countries scaling up finance and opposition to trade measures like the EU’s carbon border tax. 

But they appear to have been persuaded that these priorities will be discussed elsewhere on the agenda. 

So the opening ceremony should begin this morning as planned and adopting the agenda should now be just a formality – in contrast with the nine-day debate in Bonn earlier this year. 

Compared to the leaders’ speeches tomorrow, the ceremony will be a relatively low-key affair but it is the moment Sultan Al Jaber turns from Cop28 president-designate to Cop28 president. 

He will make a speech which is his moment to lay out what he wants from the summit. After the latest revelations, any language on fossil fuels will be watched carefully. 

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