As COP28 begins in Dubai today, IEMA's Digital Journalist Tom Pashby unpacks what COP will involve, what the COP 'cover text' is and its purpose, as IEMA advocates for a commitment to expanding resources dedicated to green jobs & green skills.

If you follow climate policy news, you will likely have come across the phrase ‘cover text’ in relation to the UNFCCC COP process.

Cover text is used as a phrase frequently but many people may not know what it entails.

The full-name version of what’s starting today in Dubai is the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28). At the end of the COP, a cover text is published which summarises what was decided upon at COP.

COPs are negotiations between the parties to the convention. The parties are the countries or states which signed up to the UNFCCC including all UN members plus some entities which are not full UN members such as the European Union.

The negotiators are generally politicians and civil servants who are climate policy experts or diplomats. Countries like the USA send vast numbers of professional diplomats, whereas small nations may only be able to send one or two officials.

At COP meetings, a vast volume of activity takes place in and outside of official channels. Most people will see headlines about whatever world leaders such as the host nation’s head of state, or United Nations Secretary General, have said.

Around 30,000 people attend the conference itself and have access to the ‘Blue Zone’ which is a secure area for politicians, civil servants, NGOs, media, and lobbyists to network. The formal negotiations take place in a more secure area within the Blue Zone.

In the Blue Zone, negotiations on technical components of the UNFCCC process take place simultaneously, some of which contribute to what eventually lands in the so-called cover text.

The general public can apply for tickets to the ‘Green Zone’ which is usually geographically next to the Blue Zone and where more general climate events take place.

Big moments for the cover text element of the COP process recently have been the inclusion of a partial commitment to remove fossil fuels from the global energy system at COP26 in Glasgow, and the inclusion of ‘loss and damage’ at COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh.

Loss and damage is a concept whereby countries at the forefront of negative climate breakdown impacts, generally in the global south, are financially compensated by richer countries who have caused or are causing the climate emergency via their greenhouse gas emissions.

IEMA’s policy lead for climate change and energy, Chloë Fiddy, has written a briefing on COP28 where you can read more about IEMA’s positions on the climate negotiations in the UAE.

IEMA’s main ask this year is for the cover text to include a commitment to expanding resources dedicated to green jobs and skills.


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