COP28: Parliaments take centre stage to accelerate climate action
Parliaments were in the spotlight on 6 December 2023 in Dubai at COP28, the UN Climate Change Conference, at a day of parliamentary meetings organized by the IPU and the Federal National Council (FNC), the Parliament of the United Arab Emirates.
The meeting was attended by over 500 parliamentarians, including dozens of Speakers, from some 60 countries, to get first-hand data from climate experts and map out parliamentary actions to address the climate emergency, with 2023 confirmed to become the hottest year on record,.
The IPU has brought together MPs at the annual UN climate meetings since the Copenhagen COP in 2009, to encourage global coordination, the exchange of good practices and to provide an overall parliamentary perspective to the talks.
This year, for the first time, the IPU meetings were held on the actual site of the COP conference, at the heart of the process and negotiations.
The IPU has been calling for parliaments to be mainstreamed into UN climate processes for years, underlining the critical role they play in tackling climate change through effective legislation, green budgeting and oversight of government promises.
Parliaments holding government to account on climate action
The oversight function of parliaments takes on particular importance at this year’s COP, which sees the first Global Stocktake of the 2015 Paris Agreement, an inventory of progress – or lack thereof – towards reducing global temperatures by cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
Parliamentary scrutiny of Nationally Determined Contributions, where governments commit to reducing their emissions, is becoming increasingly urgent in ensuring governments live up to their promises, as well as raising their ambitions as the planet heats up.
At the IPU/FNC meeting, the parliamentarians are expected to adopt an outcome document in which they will urge their governments not only to update their Nationally Determined Contributions but also to enhance them to accelerate action on climate change.
More women and young MPs involved
In line with one of the overall COP28 objectives to be as inclusive as possible, the IPU and the FNC also organized an event on the role of women and young MPs in climate governance.
The meeting, which brought together parliamentarians with civil society organizations representing youth, women and marginalized groups, underlined the importance of including multiple voices in decisions about the climate, which will affect millions in the future.
Parliaments for the Planet
Launched earlier this year, the IPU’s climate campaign Parliaments for the Planet has already mobilized hundreds of parliamentarians around the world to share the actions they are taking for the climate.
The global campaign encourages parliaments and those who work in them to lead by example, reduce their own carbon footprint and take concrete measures to implement the Paris Agreement.
Through numerous interviews with MPs and parliamentary case studies, the campaign has provided a global snapshot of how climate change is affecting every country, but also highlighted the multitude of solutions that parliaments are putting in place to green both parliament and the planet.
IPU President, Tulia Ackson, said: “Parliamentarians play a crucial role in addressing the pressing climate challenges of our time. The responsibility on their shoulders is immense, and the decisions they make resonate beyond these walls and our institutions, shaping our shared future.”
IPU Secretary General, Martin Chungong, said: “This COP is a watershed moment for the IPU. For the first time, parliaments are now in the inner sanctum of the process and the negotiations after years of being on the sidelines. It’s encouraging to see parliaments and parliamentarians from around the world stepping up and coming together to share solutions to go further and faster to address the climate emergency.”
 President Ackson was unable to attend the meeting in person due to her need to remain in Tanzania to address the devasting impact of rains, flooding and landslides.