Climate Change Stories

COP28: Your Guide to the 2023 UN Climate Conference

When it comes to the climate crisis, every action matters.

A wind turbine off the Atlantic coast of Rhode Island, USA.
Climate change solutions Delegates at COP28 in Dubai will discuss how to meet our collective and individual climate change goals. We expect food to be a main topic. © Ayla Fox
Renewable Future
Renewable Future Wind turbines situated on a ridge top in the Appalachian mountains of West Virginia. © Kent Mason

View from Dubai:

‘At the 11th hour, Dubai delivers meaningful milestone on the path to a cleaner, fairer world’ 

Late-night diplomacy at COP28 turns divisive text into path forward on climate emergency.

See TNC's statement on the Dubai agreement.

From November 30-December 12, representatives from nearly 200 countries came together to coordinate global climate action for the next year—an event referred to as COP28.

If you’ve never heard of COP28, or if you need a refresher, this guide will tell you what to expect from the event, why TNC was there with staff from over 20 countries around the globe—and what this all means for you.

What is COP28?

COP28 stands for the 28th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. In this guide we’ll call it COP; you might also hear this referred to as the UN climate change convention.

At the annual climate COP, delegates from nearly every country on Earth negotiated global goals for tackling climate change, present their individual countries’ plans for contributing to those goals, and report on their progress.

Key Facts About Nature & Climate

  • Thermometer icon.

    1.5° C

    The target for limiting global warming to reduce the harmful effects of climate change.

  • Cattail icon.


    The amount of emission reductions we could realize by protecting and restoring nature.

  • Money icon.


    The amount of climate funding currently allocated to nature-based solutions.

Why is COP28 important?

The world is facing unprecedented impacts from a warming planet already: record-breaking wildfires, catastrophic floods, and unbearable heat waves. And what’s worse, the first ever report card on our climate progress (appropriately named the Global Stocktake) showed exactly how far behind we are in our climate ambitions. We need dramatic actions to benefit our climate and we need them now. COP28 is the world’s chance to level up

The climate COP meets in a different city every year to demonstrate the importance of collaboration from nations across the globe. This year’s meeting was held November 30 to December 12 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE). While the overall goal of all these meetings was increasing global cooperation to fight climate change, the specific topics can vary each year.

Similar to last year, the host country sets the tone and initial direction of discussion. 

What were the four areas COP28 focused on?

Hawk on solar panels.
Aerial view of dense sea-side development.
Punta Gorda, Florida Low-lying neighborhoods surrounded by water are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. © Carlton Ward Jr.
Aerial view of mountainous islands in blue Caribbean.
Two smiling men arm-in-arms, in a small village.
Forest Resources Keshias Nalubamba and his father, Martin, with his completed chicken coop made using supple branches, bark rope and grasses gathered in the forest in Mulobezi District, Zambia © Gareth Bentley
Hawk on solar panels.


Transitioning to Clean Energy

Fast tracking the energy transition and slashing emissions before 2030 to limit global warming to 1.5° C (2.7° F) above pre-industrial levels.

Aerial view of dense sea-side development.
Punta Gorda, Florida Low-lying neighborhoods surrounded by water are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. © Carlton Ward Jr.


Centering nature, people, lives & livelihoods

Put nature, people, lives and livelihoods at the heart of climate action, including helping the most vulnerable communities adapt to the change that’s already occurring.

Aerial view of mountainous islands in blue Caribbean.


Delivering on finance

Deliver old promises and set the framework for a new deal on finance. Climate finance must be affordable, available, and accessible to developing countries.

Two smiling men arm-in-arms, in a small village.
Forest Resources Keshias Nalubamba and his father, Martin, with his completed chicken coop made using supple branches, bark rope and grasses gathered in the forest in Mulobezi District, Zambia © Gareth Bentley


Mobilizing inclusivity

Mobilize the most inclusive COP ever, ensuring that decisions and discussions, and how the solutions are implemented, are truly inclusive and done in collaboration with Indigenous Peoples and local communities.

Why was TNC at COP28?

With some of the world's top policy makers and climate experts at COP28, there's a tremendous opportunity to advance the critical role nature plays in combating climate change and implementing the Paris Agreement. 

As countries work to update and align their climate plans, TNC staff were at the forefront of negotiations with government and business leaders, pushing for greater ambition to phase out fossil fuels, build more resilience into societies, and invest more in both mitigation and adaption efforts.  

To accomplish these goals, we've been advocating for both swifter transition to renewable energy source and more use of natural climate solutions, and more investment from both the public and private sectors, especially to help those countries that have been most affected the impacts of climate change. We're also working to ensure Indigenous and local community voices are heard, as these are the people who know best how to work with nature in their communities.

Close up of crimson clover among tall grasses, as a cover crop.
Old Tech Cover crops, like this crimson clover, help maintain soil health and reduce the need for additional fertilizers in agriculture. © Zach Luttrell
Smoke covers farmers and their machinery among crop fields.
New Tech Switching from crop burning to a new way of preparing fields for crops has the added benefit of improving human health. © Natalya Skiba/TNC

What can we do to help address climate change?

Every action matters. Every ounce of carbon, every fraction of a degree, every day matters. Our leaders’ climate actions matter and your climate actions matter.

That’s why at COP28 we’re advocating for 3 core themes.

As a global society, we must:

  1. Phase out fossil fuels. We must accelerate the equitable phase-out of fossil fuels to achieve net zero by 2050 or sooner.
  2. Build climate-resilient societies. We must empower groups who steward nature to secure their homes, livelihoods and futures.
  3. Invest in climate solutions. We must inspire commitments and investments in nature-positive projects, policies and practices.

A few things YOU can do:

  • Our guide to talking about climate change will help you feel more comfortable raising these topics at the dinner table with your friends and family.

    Want to have an age-appropriate conversation about climate change with kids? Nature Lab has a variety of lessons, videos and other resources to educate K-12 students on climate issues and solutions.

  • Share this page on your social channels so others know what they can do, too. Here are hashtags to join the conversation: #COP28 #NatureNow

  • Measure your own carbon footprint and learn how the climate has changed since your own “carbon birth year.”

  • If you're in the U.S., speak out for climate action now at all levels of government. Pledge to stand with The Nature Conservancy as we call on U.S. leaders to put nature and climate solutions on the policy agenda.

  • Get our timely takes on some of the biggest challenges facing people and the planet. Sign up now.

  • Educate yourself and share the knowledge. If you feel ready to take a deep dive, scroll down to the next section for some resources we've put together on key topics that will be discussed at COP28.

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Dive deeper on the issues at COP28

Want to learn more about some of the issues discussed at COP28? In this last section of the guide, we’ve curated articles and videos on the most important issues at this year's climate conference.

Food and Climate Icon

Food & Climate

What are Foodscapes? (2:37) This animated explainer video walks through the layered complexity of our global food systems and the foodscapes that underpin them.
A woman picks leaves and puts them in a basket on a hillside agricultural landscape.
Upper Tana Watershed, Kenya A young woman picking tea leaves on a tea plantation. © Nick Hall

Foodscapes: Accelerating a Regenerative Food Systems Transition

Learn how farmers in India are taking action to break a cycle of field-clearing fires, help their soil store millions more tons of carbon and recharge healthy water supplies.

See the transformation of foodscapes.

Climate Adaptation Icon

Climate Adaptation

Climate Adaptation Explained (2:26) Climate change is here and communities around the world need to adapt to the impacts of climate change today. Fortunately, nature is a powerful ally in helping us adapt to our new reality. Watch to find out how.
Aerial view of the city of Berlin, with a road dividing a forest leading to the buildings in the city.
Berlin The city is bringing together key stakeholders to build a shared vision of how to protect biodiversity and use nature-based solutions to improve human well-being. © Adam Vradenburg/Unsplash

Adapting to a Changing Climate in Europe

Climate change already has a profound impact on people’s lives across Europe and around the world. One of the more effective solutions for cities is to add more green space.

Learn how Berlin adapts.

Indigenous and Local Community Leadership Icon

Indigenous and Local Community Leadership

Explore the Emerald Edge in 360°

Watch 360° Video (mobile)

Tour the Emerald Edge (360° video) Walk through the lush forests of the Emerald Edge with the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation and learn about the life-giving force of the cedar tree in 360° in a new immersive experience.
A man measures an ancient tree in an old-growth forest in Washington state.
Ancient forest Conservancy Forest Manager Kyle Smith measures trees in an old growth forest at the Ellsworth Creek Preserve in Washington. © Chris Crisman

The Power of North America’s Emerald Edge

Explore how community, conservation and climate action are coming together in the world’s largest coastal temperate rainforest.

See Climate Action in the Emerald Edge.

Nature Based Solution Icon

Nature-Based Solutions

Natural Climate Solutions Explained (3:01) In this video, it's the future, and we look back on how we saved the world with nature. In the 2020s, we learned that nature could pull 11 billion metric tons of carbon from the atmosphere. This was a full third of the emission reductions we needed! So how did nature do all this?
Aerial view of thick forested tree canopy in Belize.
Saving Belize's Maya Forest Peccary Hills National Park is one of many protected areas that encompass nearly 40% of Belize. © Lucas Bustamante

What Are Natural Climate Solutions?

Learn how nature can help us address the climate crisis while also supporting healthy, thriving communities and ecosystems.

All about natural climate solutions.

Clean Energy Icon

Clean Energy

How to site renewables right (1:05) There are more than 120,000 square miles in the central United States where renewable energy can be located without disturbing habitats. Our Site Renewables Right program shows how we can power the way to a clean and green energy future.
Wind turbines on the top of a hill.
West Virginia wind farm Wind farm turbines situated on a ridge top in the Appalachian mountains of West Virginia. © Kent Mason

We need a renewable energy transition

The world needs at least a nine-fold increase in renewable energy production to meet the Paris Agreement climate goals and much more to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. We need deploy renewable energy in ways that support our climate goals.

How to get there.

Financing Climate Action Icon

Financing Climate Action

How carbon markets fight climate change (2:45) If we want to keep the climate in safe boundaries, we need to reach net-zero emissions as soon as possible. But eliminating some carbon sources will be easier than others. That’s where carbon markets can help.
Graphic of shapes and symbols.
Playbook for Climate Finance We can’t tackle climate change through UN COP26 without more funding—here are 5 ways to get it.

The playbook for climate finance

We need funding to reach our climate goals. The conversations and commitments at COP28 and previous events are how we get it.

Get the playbook.

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Real-world solutions to the most complex challenges facing people and nature today.