Experts have raised concerns that COP28 might set a new record for carbon emissions due to the unprecedented number of participants flying into Dubai.
The event, scheduled from November 30 to December 12, anticipates around 400,000 visitors, including 97,000 individuals who have registered as official delegates and will have access to the "Blue Zone" reserved for accredited government representatives and corporate entities, the Daily Mail reports.
This figure marks a significant increase from the 49,704 delegates at COP27 in Egypt and 38,457 at the 2021 conference in Scotland. Since 2019, the attendance has nearly tripled. The previous conference in Glasgow was already a record-setter, generating about 102,500 tons of carbon dioxide, equivalent to the annual emissions of 8,000 British citizens.
With the substantial turnout expected in the UAE, there are concerns that COP28 might continue this trend of rising carbon footprints at climate conferences.
Richard Black, a senior associate at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, commented to The Telegraph that this event is likely to have the highest carbon footprint so far.
Originally a modest event in the mid-1990s with about 5,000 attendees, the COP conference has grown significantly, now expecting around 80 times that number. This includes both the open Green Zone, where organizations can showcase their climate actions and the secure Blue Zone, designated for official delegates and negotiations.
However, this expansion raises concerns about the conference's own environmental impact. A significant portion of the emissions, as seen in Glasgow, comes from international flights. Additionally, the logistical needs for housing, security, and transportation for such a large number of participants add to the carbon footprint.
Amid these concerns, there was criticism when UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, along with other high-profile figures, chose to travel to the summit by private jet, with Downing Street defending the decision, emphasizing the importance of strong UK participation in the summit.
It also stated that the government's stance is not against flying but focuses on investing in new technologies like sustainable aviation fuel and carbon offsetting, asserting that it seeks to lead in climate action without imposing flight restrictions.
This year, Graham Stuart, the Tory MP and Minister of State for Climate, will be heading the UK delegation at COP28.
In November, Stuart emphasized the importance of gradually reducing and eventually eliminating the "unabated" use of fossil fuels in the UK, while also noting that there is "nothing fundamentally wrong with oil and gas."