Global perspective Human stories
Simon Stiell, UNFCCC Executive Secretary speaks to reporters at the UN Climate Change Conference, COP28, at Expo City in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

COP28 is about action, not politics and point scoring, says UN climate chief

COP28/Christophe Viseux
Simon Stiell, UNFCCC Executive Secretary speaks to reporters at the UN Climate Change Conference, COP28, at Expo City in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

COP28 is about action, not politics and point scoring, says UN climate chief

Climate and Environment

UN climate chief Simon Stiell said on Wednesday that COP28 delegates are not in Dubai to “score points” and play at “lowest-denominator politics”; they must take ambitious action on curbing global warming and ending the climate crisis.

Mr. Stiell’s strong message to government negotiators comes as the latest UN climate conference, running in the UAE’s main city, Dubai, since last Thursday, reaches the halfway mark with agreement on financing for climate adaptation and the fate of fossil fuels still up in the air. 

“All governments must give their negotiators clear marching orders". 

"We need highest ambition, not point scoring or lowest common denominator politics,” said Mr. Stiell, who is the Executive Secretary of the UN climate convention, which facilitates COP28.

‘Good intentions won’t halve emissions’

Noting the early ‘win’ on a loss and damage fund to help vulnerable countries recover from climate-related disasters that was launched on the opening day of the summit, he acknowledged that long-awaited deal had given this COP a spring in its step.

Find out more here about the Loss and Damage Fund.

But “it is just a start,” he cautioned, and added: “We would be kidding ourselves if we think it’s a tick in the box for finance and support at this COP. More is required.”

He asked the delegates to take an honest look at the real work ahead, because “good intentions won’t halve emissions this decade or save lives right now.” 

Tweet URL


“We need enhanced transparency, and to deliver our promise to fund climate action across the world,” he explained.

‘Serious progress needed on finance’

Laying out his vision for the next round of climate talks, the UN climate chief said “only serious progress on finance can deliver frontline results,” which is the “great enabler” for climate action.

“The negotiations must put it front and center.”

Global stockake

According to Mr. Stiell, the Global Stocktake is the vehicle to get climate action on track.

In simple words, the stocktake process will review how much progress countries have made – and identify where there are gaps – on reaching the goals set by the landmark 2015 Paris Climate Change agreement, and its outcome will lay the roadmap for an accelerated climate action for the years ahead.

Find out more here about the Global stocktake.

“On the Global Stocktake, we have a starting text on the table… But it’s a grab bag of wish lists and heavy on posturing.”   

“The key now is to sort the wheat from the chaff,” he pointed out.

“If we want to save lives now and keep [the] 1.5 goal within reach, the highest ambition COP outcomes must stay front and center.”

‘A bullet train for climate action’

Mr. Stiell emphasized that by the end of next week, when the conference is set to close, COP28 must deliver a bullet train to speed up climate action.

“We currently have an old caboose chugging over rickety tracks.”

He said that the technologies and solutions exist, and the tools are all there on the table.

“It’s time for governments and negotiators to pick them up and put them to work.”

COP28 at the halfway mark

COP28 continued its work on Wednesday with key discussions on phasing out fossil fuels and boosting financial support for countries bearing the brunt of climate crisis.

As the delegates head into the home stretch, here’s a snapshot of what’s happened so far and what’s ahead.

Key pledges and declarations made:

  • The loss and damage fund designed to support climate-vulnerable developing countries was brought to life on the first day of the COP
  • Countries have pledged hundreds of millions of dollars so far for the fund
  • A pledge to shore up global health care systems to withstand the worsening impacts of climate change 
  • A pledge to curb cooling-related emissions was joined by nearly 60 countries

Most discussed topics:

  1. Phasing out or reducing the use of fossil fuels
    2. Building resilience to climate impacts
    3. Financial support for vulnerable countries coping with a climate catastrophe

Major reports launched at COP28:

Among the major reports launched in the first half of COP28, two sobering science-based surveys from the UN weather agency, WMO, opened and closed the week.

  • The first WMO report warned that the world is heating up at pace that could signal “planetary collapse” if drastic and immediate action isn’t taken to curb greenhouse gas emissions
  • The second WMO report, launched on Tuesday confirmed 2011-2030 was the warmest decade ever recorded with greenhouse gas emissions “turbo charging” climate change and imperiling our Polar ice caps and mountainous regions

What’s coming up:

Now all eyes are on countries’ ability to use the conclusions of the global stocktake as a springboard towards more ambitious climate action plans.

COP28 is expected to wrap up its work on Tuesday, 12 December and a decision adopted by the parties could emerge as the most consequential outcome following the 2015 Paris conference.

Want to know more? Check out our special events page, where you can find all our coverage of the COP28 climate conference, including stories and videos, explainers and our newsletter.