COP28 Leaders’ Summit – what happened?

The Leaders’ Summit of COP28 took place over Friday and Saturday, 1-2nd December in UAE. World leaders met to discuss and make agreements prior to negotiations throughout the rest of the Conference. These negotiations will be done by other representatives, ministers or officials.

The Leaders’ Summit saw some significant progress being agreed, including the Loss and Damage fund, agreements on food and farming, fossil fuels and emissions and countries committed funding to these projects, initiatives and funds.

Loss and Damage Fund

The Loss and Damage Fund was agreed last year at COP27, and has been launched at COP28, with donations from countries agreed. The fund is targeted at countries that have been damaged by climate-caused storms, droughts and disasters. Prior to the Loss and Damage Fund, funding had been provided to help poorer countries adapt to the changing climate and help reduce emissions, but with a lack of money to help with damage and destruction due to weather and climate change.

It is positive progress that this fund has been launched and donations agreed, but let’s not forget that this is not a new or innovative idea. Poorer nations have been asking for this fund since the 1990s, and it has been launched over 20 years later – slightly overdue?

The UK has promised £60 million to the Loss and Damage Fund, UAE and Germany promising $100 million and Japan $10 million, all of which is positive. Yet donations from the UK and other countries do not even begin to touch the surface of what is required. Climate Analytics for Oxfam estimated that by 2030, developing countries will need more than $400 billion annually to recover from the damage caused by extreme weather events.

Vanessa Nakate, Ugandan Climate Activist, said “The loss and damage fund was operationalised. Pledges came in in millions of dollars. However, the cost of loss and damage is in billions, not millions. Frontline communities need billions to address loss and damage.”

Agriculture and food initiative

Photo of cows feeding

Also at their summit, world leaders agreed on a food initiative to cut emissions from farming. The emissions from farming account for a large proportion, between 18% and 27% of global emissions. In total, 134 countries, including the UK, EU, the US and China, signed The Emirates Declaration. This agreement sets a path towards greener farming, addressing the huge role of agriculture and food systems in climate change. These countries together represent 5.7 billion people and 75% of all emissions from global food production and consumption. There was also agreement that farmers are vulnerable to the effects of climate change, and need to be protected.

Fossil Fuels

There was a big emphasis on fossil fuels and emissions, seeing companies and countries signing pledges and agreements. The Oil and Gas Decarbonisation Charter has been signed by 50 oil and gas companies, to speed up climate action within their industry. Those signatories represent over 40% of global oil production, with the largest ever number of National Oil Companies (NOCs) committing to a decarbonisation initiative. The Charter calls for the oil and gas industry to be net zero by 2050, to zero-out methane emissions and eliminate routine flaring by 2030, whilst continuing to work towards how best to reduce emissions overall. International Oil Companies (IOCs) that signed up to the Charter included BP, Shell, Exxonmobil and TotalEnergies.

The UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, faced criticism for being inconsistent and hypocritical when pushing for the phasing-out of fossil fuels at the Leaders’ Summit. Weeks before, the UK government had backed more oil and gas exploration in the North Sea at Rosebank. Sunak has been criticised by members of his own party, environment ministers and international leaders for scaling back on green commitments in his domestic policy.

Renewable energy

Also agreed this weekend, 117 countries have signed the Global Renewables and Energy Efficiency Pledge. This aims to triple the global generation capacity of installed renewable power, and to double energy efficiency improvement by 2030. This aims to facilitate the phasing-out of fossil fuels and support the transition to a decarbonised energy system. The EU has announced a contribution of €2.3 billion over the next two years to support this pledge.

Photo of an off-shore wind farm

The Global Decarbonisation Accelerator was announced by COP28 President, Dr. Sultan Al Jaber. This is a series of initiatives to speed up energy transition and reduce emissions. It is focused on three areas:

  1. Rapidly scaling the future energy system
  2. Decarbonising the current energy system
  3. Targeting methane and other non-CO2 greenhouse gases.

Other announcements

The Ocean Resilience and Climate Alliance (ORCA) was launched, to fund ocean-climate solutions, with an initial pledge of over $250 million.

UK agreements

The UK has agreed:

  • £1.6 billion in UK funding for international climate projects (to fulfil the pledge made previously at COP26)
  • To back efforts to end deforestation and speed up transition to renewable energy
  • To commit £316 million for energy innovation projects around the world
  • To give £60 million to the Loss and Damage Fund.

More COP28 content and updates

To find all of our COP28 updates and content, head to where we will continue to post throughout COP, which is due to end on 13 December. You can read our ‘Benchmarks for Success’ at COP28 here.



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