Reflecting on COP28 — and humanity’s progress toward meeting global climate goals

MIT News reflects on the goals and outcomes of COP28, including the conference's first-ever health day, devoted to the impacts of climate change on human health.

Andre Zollinger, senior policy manager at the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) and the King Climate Action Initiative (K-CAI), says: “An important but often-neglected area where climate action can lead to improved health is combating air pollution. COP28's announcement on reducing methane leaks is an important step because action in this area could translate to relatively quick, cost-effective ways to curb climate change while improving air quality, especially for people living near these industrial sites.”


With 85,000 delegates, the 2023 United Nations climate change conference, known as COP28, was the largest UN climate conference in history. It was held at the end of the hottest year in recorded history. And after 12 days of negotiations, from 30 Nov-12 Dec, it produced a decision that included, for the first time, language calling for “transitioning away from fossil fuels,” though it stopped short of calling for their complete phase-out.

UN climate change executive secretary Simon Stiell said the outcome in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, COP28’s host city, signaled “the beginning of the end” of the fossil fuel era.

COP stands for “conference of the parties” to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, held this year for the 28th time. Through the negotiations — and the immense conference and expo that takes place alongside them — a delegation of faculty, students, and staff from MIT was in Dubai to observe the negotiations, present new climate technologies, speak on panels, network and conduct research.

MIT News

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