As discussions on the Glasgow Dialogue begin, members of civil society demonstrate in the corridors

Highlights and images for 12 December 2023

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Climate change negotiations always end in some form of a waiting game, with plenaries being scheduled and rescheduled in what can seem like an endless cycle. Yet even seasoned delegates found the waiting game on Tuesday, 12 December, the last—scheduled—day of the 28th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 28) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change especially frustrating.

Majid Al Suwaidi, Director-General, COP 28

Majid Al Suwaidi, Director-General, COP 28

No negotiation sessions made it onto the schedule during the daytime and several press conferences were canceled. Delegates spent all day waiting for revised texts on the key outstanding issues amid stories about bilateral consultations that sought to “sell” groups on draft decisions. The upheaval caused by the previous day’s text on the Global Stocktake was on everyone’s mind, leaving many uneasy about the lack of agreement on several other decisions, including:

  • the global goal on adaptation;
  • the mitigation ambition and implementation work programme; and
  • the work programme on just transition pathways.
Arlette Soudan-Nonault, Minister of Tourism and Environment, Republic of Congo

Arlette Soudan-Nonault, Minister of Tourism and Environment, Republic of the Congo

Throughout the day, civil society activists kept up the pressure, urging parties to take a decision on fossil fuel phase-out. Many were also working behind the scenes, keeping each other informed through an elaborate whisper network that includes government delegates. Whatsapp and Signal groups as well as Slack and Telegram channels were in overdrive. Social media users too, along with everyone else, were eager for any morsel of clarity.

Shortly after 6:00 pm—the official scheduled closing time of COP 28—several outstanding draft decisions on finance issues were posted. Nothing yet was on the horizon regarding response measures or other unresolved issues, however. Some rumors suggested a package will be tabled at 10:00 pm, with a plenary session envisaged for an hour or two after they drop.

Harald Winkler, South Africa

Harald Winkler, South Africa

Shortly before 9:00 pm, the first negotiations appeared on the schedule: contact groups on the three sub-items related to cooperative approaches for implementing the Paris Agreement (Article 6), scheduled in 15-minute increments from 10-10:45 pm.

While parties reached agreement on the draft decision text on non-market approaches (Article 6.8), they could not find consensus on Article 6.2 and Article 6.4. The Co-Chairs of the respective Contact Groups noted they will inform the Presidency thereof.

Shortly before midnight on Tuesday, 12 December, most of the few delegates that had remained on site finally left the venue: National Focal Points were informed that the Presidency will continue consultations until Wednesday, 13 December, at 3:00 am, following which it will “reflect on the views expressed.”

At this point, it was unclear when the closing plenaries would reconvene.

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All ENB photos are free to use with attribution. For the UN Climate Change Conference - United Arab Emirates 2023 please use: Photo by IISD/ENB | Mike Muzurakis