IEMA members give their thoughts on COP28

5th December 2023

Negotiations are well underway at COP28 in the UAE as countries look to agree the best ways to tackle climate change and environmental breakdown over the coming decades.

IEMA CEO Sarah Mukherjee MBE, and deputy CEO, Martin Baxter are currently at the summit speaking with stakeholders to gain support for the institute’s campaign to get green skills and jobs in the final cover text agreement.

Several other IEMA members are also at the conference, including Ashley Oates, head of environment and sustainability at Balfour Beatty, Ven Tauringana, professor of accounting and sustainability at the University of Southampton, and Richard Smith, a recent graduate with an Msc in sustainability.

Here, they outline why they are attending COP28 and what they hope to see at the climate summit.

What brings you to COP28?

Richard: I live in UAE and have just graduated, so the location plus the topic make it an important event to attend. I wish I could attend the blue zone to see the negotiations dynamics and observe panels , however the green zone will have to do!

Ven: I am going to push for greater sustainability accountability by SMEs. I hope to meet influential people who can help me make SMEs more accountable, which is good for sustainable development.

Ashley: I’m attending to meet with energy sector clients and supply chain to discuss circularity and ethical supply of scarce/rare metals and minerals that are required by our sector. I’m hoping that we can agree/develop a way of procuring the items we need to decarbonise energy infrastructure without causing a negative impact on people or the environment. It will also be great to be surrounded by like-minded individuals and learn all I can by attending conference seminars and training sessions. This looks like it will be the most well-attended COP to date, which just shows the ever increasing groundswell of support and concern for our planet and climate.

What broad objectives do you hope will be achieved at COP28 by the negotiating parties?

Richard: I would like to see some concrete actions being taken that take into consideration the challenge of handling multinational organisations and their impact on climate change. I also hope for some clear long term plans from countries including how the more developed nations plan to support the developing world. It would also be good for the UAE to release its own long-term climate goals (LT-LEDs) and some stricter regulations around sustainability reporting and emissions of local businesses.

Ven: I hope they can agree on the GHG accountability issue. Making large companies accountable for their GHGs has not yielded the desired results. Every organisation has to be accountable, and I believe accountability is the first step to managing the impacts.

Ashley: All parties providing an honest and robust stock take on their current position and all agreeing to take action to fast track energy transition and slash emissions before 2030 by showing clear investment plans.

How do you feel about COP28 being held in the UAE?

Richard: As I live here, there has been a lot of buzz around sustainability, with the nation calling it the 'year of sustainability' and some announcements being called such as a banning single-use plastics. Ultimately whatever people think of the Gulf, it is an important strategic partner to the west and an influence around the world, thus it is vital to have these countries on board with such important initiatives. These events can hopefully encourage a structured and methodical path towards a greener future.

Ven: I do not have any strong feelings. The UAE government has its own faults and so do all other countries in the world.

Ashley: I’ve never been to the UAE before because I’ve been unsure about its sustainability credentials. It will be interesting to see for myself how seriously they take environmental protection. I do think that the best way to bring people along on this journey and get them to understand its importance is to include them. So this could be the best way to really get the UAE involved.

How optimistic are you that justice will be delivered for people at the forefront of climate impacts?

Richard: I think humans tend to be more reactive than proactive. As more evidence comes into place of the impact of climate change I really hope we will see an impact and a drive from the general public. Unfortunately I am expecting to see lots of greenwashing from businesses at these events, particularly in the general public friendly 'green zone' using 'sustainability' as a buzz-word rather than anything involving meaningful change. Fingers crossed it will be different!

Ven: I am not optimistic because all countries are self-interested, and with the US elections next year, it is unrealistic to think that the country would agree on something that could hurt the economy such as drastically reducing GHGs the country is responsible for.

Ashley: I think all parties left COP27 understanding that this issue needed to be addressed at COP28. I’m optimistic that will attend having seriously considered their position and ready to properly address it.


Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.

Transform articles

COP28 roundup of announcements

This year’s COP28 climate summit concluded with an “historic” agreement between countries to “transition away from fossil fuels”, although the final Global Stocktake text has been described as containing “a litany of loopholes”.

14th December 2023

Read more

IEMA’s CEO and deputy CEO, Sarah Mukherjee MBE and Martin Baxter, respectively, called for greater support for green skills at several events today on Youth, Children, Education and Skills Day at COP28.

8th December 2023

Read more

With the first week of COP28 drawing to a close, IEMA’s deputy CEO, Martin Baxter, reflects on some of the key announcements made so far, addresses the controversy surrounding the climate summit, and highlights what to look out for in the second week.

7th December 2023

Read more

Thousands of people have gathered in the UAE for this year’s COP28 climate summit, including IEMA CEO Sarah Mukherjee MBE, and deputy CEO, Martin Baxter.

1st December 2023

Read more

In the August/September edition of Transform, I wrote about a green skills campaign that IEMA has been running in the lead into COP28.

24th November 2023

Read more

More than 40 organisations and businesses have backed IEMA’s campaign to get green skills and training on the agenda at COP28, including Nestle UK, the British Chambers of Commerce, and OVO Energy.

9th November 2023

Read more

In the build-up to COP28, which this year takes place in the United Arab Emirates, IEMA is campaigning for greater recognition of the role of skills in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change process.

1st August 2023

Read more

IEMA representatives have been busy at the Bonn Climate Change Conference this week to help set the agenda at the COP28 summit in the UAE later this year.

9th June 2023

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert

IEMA Cookie Notice

Clicking the ‘Accept all’ button means you are accepting analytics and third-party cookies. Our website uses necessary cookies which are required in order to make our website work. In addition to these, we use analytics and third-party cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience. To control which cookies are set, click ‘Settings’. To learn more about cookies, how we use them on our website and how to change your cookie settings please view our cookie policy.

Manage cookie settings

Our use of cookies

You can learn more detailed information in our cookie policy.

Some cookies are essential, but non-essential cookies help us to improve the experience on our site by providing insights into how the site is being used. To maintain privacy management, this relies on cookie identifiers. Resetting or deleting your browser cookies will reset these preferences.

Essential cookies

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website.

Analytics cookies

These cookies allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors to our website and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works.

Advertising cookies

These cookies allow us to tailor advertising to you based on your interests. If you do not accept these cookies, you will still see adverts, but these will be more generic.

Save and close