UCLA experts attending and monitoring the annual U.N. climate conference, COP28, have tempered their expectations for what the event could achieve. Every year, the countries of the world gather to negotiate what to do about climate change, but this year, the annual event takes place in Dubai, one of the world’s leading oil producers.

In a year expected to be the hottest ever recorded and which has already seen record-breaking heat in June, July, August, September and October, UCLA environmental law experts from the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment are tracking and attending the Nov. 30–Dec. 12 climate conference.

Cara Horowitz
Horowitz is a UCLA environmental law expert and executive director of the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment. She can explain how U.N. climate conferences like COP28 work and what is — and isn’t — on the agenda for negotiations this year. She will be in Dubai.

Email: horowitz@law.ucla.edu

“These talks have had ups and downs through the years and have resulted in, among other things, the adoption of the Paris Agreement. Twenty-eight years in, climate change remains essentially unchecked. Although we have significant and viable options available for controlling emissions, this year’s talks already send conflicting signals by taking place in Dubai, under the presidency of one of the world’s leading fossil-fuel producing states.”

Mary Nichols
Nichols is distinguished counsel at the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment and former chair of the California Air Resources Board. She has been working on corporate climate accountability measures and closely tracking third-party verification of emissions reductions.

Email: nichols@law.ucla.edu

“With financial institutions hesitating to invest more than token sums in the global energy transition, greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) have continued to grow despite net-zero pledges by over 200 countries. I think there is a good chance this COP will adopt rules similar to those adopted by the EU and California that spell out the scope and methods for reporting GHG emissions. Accounting may not be glamorous, but without standards, there is no way to assure pledges become real.”

Ted Parson
Parson is a professor of environmental law and faculty director of the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, where he studies international environmental law and policy. He will be in Dubai.

Email: parson@law.ucla.edu

“This year’s COP presents special controversies and challenges, including the great disparity between what the negotiators will be working on and what’s happening in the world, giving the sense that world leaders are whistling past the graveyard. After a historically hot year, the world is facing radical uncertainty regarding near-term prospects, from the expanding range of projections for global heating to new carbon budget adjustments. And despite new global projections that fossil fuel emissions will peak and decline within a few years, we remain a long way from zero.”

Alex Wang
Wang is a professor of law and faculty co-director of the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, where he studies Chinese environmental policies as well as U.S.-China cooperation and competition. He will be in Dubai.

Email: wang@law.ucla.edu

“Many of us will be watching the Dubai negotiations for signs that China will increase its ambitions to accelerate its goals for peak use of fossil fuels and net zero emissions. China has shown what’s possible for accelerating clean energy and electric vehicle deployment. What’s less clear is China’s official position on the negotiations of a loss and damage fund. But I think it’s likely we’ll see China ramp up its positioning as a defender of the Global South and its efforts to go on the offensive to demand that the developed countries do more on finance, mitigation and other areas.”