UN picks Dubai to host 23rd climate change conference

Written by Staff Writer, CNN

More than two decades after the landmark climate talks in Montreal, the United Arab Emirates has won the bid to host the third major UN climate change conference, which brings together officials from over 180 countries.

The UAE beat off bids from Bangladesh, Indonesia and South Africa to hold the September 20-22, 2023, conference, with Secretary-General António Guterres citing the Gulf nation’s ability to host “the largest international event ever” as a reason to choose it.

“You already have an urban mega-city population of 10 million people. We expect the 2030 carbon intensity to be the lowest of any other country on the planet and to be one of the lowest in the world,” he said.

Dubai is renowned for its vast and varied indoor leisure experiences, but much of the city lies in the middle of a desert. Here, the plans for what Dubai’s skyline could look like if the city planned for climate change, such as this planned lakeshore complex. Credit: SARAH LEE/AP/REX/Shutterstock

The selection comes with both challenges and opportunities for Emirati leaders, whom Guterres called “immensely courageous” for doing what would be difficult for many countries.

“I hope that we can actually start the process of transforming this desert into an open city,” he said.

A metro car station in the desert is one of many options that could be developed to combat climate change in the UAE, pictured. Credit: STR/AFP/AFP/Getty Images

The UAE was named hosting city for the 7th Global Climate Action Summit in 2014, and has gone on to launch and host numerous initiatives to be a world leader in the fight against climate change.

Construction started on the world’s largest solar power plant in Dubai last year. When fully-operational, the facility, which is located at the construction site of the Expo 2020 World’s Fair, will be capable of producing more than 28 megawatts of electricity — a percentage of which will be used to power the UAE National Oil Company.

The facility, which is dubbed “the world’s largest solar park,” is meant to be able to produce 57 million kilowatt hours of electricity every year, equal to the annual electricity consumption of 750,000 homes.

Copenhagen, South Africa and Paris, France have been the past two host cities for the UN climate conference COP28, which has been held every two years since 1992, when the first such gathering was held in Montreal.

“Dubai is also the best location for developing renewable energy technology, in addition to technological innovation,” Guterres added.

Where the UN climate conference is meant to take place — COP28 — has changed little over the years. Concrete aims have waxed and waned over the years, but the purpose of the event has remained the same: to talk about climate change, do something about it and develop new ideas for curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

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