At a climate summit, nothing is as important as the mood. Are beneficial alliances being formed between important blocs of states so that others can follow suit? Will delegates succeed in creating a positive dynamic, or will mutual mistrust dominate the summit, so that each country waits to see how far the others are willing to go? In most cases, it is the atmosphere that determines the success or failure of climate conferences.

A special role is always played by the COP President, the head of the negotiations. This year, at COP28, which kicked off on Thursday in Dubai, that role is held by Sultan Al Jaber, who is not only the UAE's Minister of Industry and Advanced Technologies, he is also the CEO of the state-owned oil company Adnoc, the world's <>th largest oil company. An oil boss, of all people, is supposed to advance the recently particularly tough efforts to increase climate protection?

The first breakthrough

There are two different ways to look at this appointment: an oil boss is unlikely to actively work to undermine his own company's business model during the two weeks of the summit – or he is particularly successful because he enjoys the trust of states with important fossil fuel industries and can thus more easily persuade them to make concessions. The critics must have felt vindicated when it became known this week that, according to internal documents, the COP president wants to use the conference to bag new contracts for oil and liquefied natural gas exports with several countries. Al Jaber denied it, but the story is out in the world. Poison for the mood? Again, it depends. Right now, the negotiators could go to great lengths to make up for the damage to their image with good work.

A surprising breakthrough on the very first day of the summit fits into the positive narrative: Germany and the United Arab Emirates announced their intention to advance the disaster fund for poor countries. A total of 200 million dollars is to be made available for this purpose. Germany wants to finance half of the sum. The Emirates is the first developing and oil country to make such an announcement. Specifically, it is about the so-called Loss and Damage Fund (L&D). The money is intended to support and compensate nations that are particularly affected by the consequences of climate change.

"Germany and the United Arab Emirates are moving forward together. At the same time, we jointly call on all countries that are willing and able to contribute to the new fund against climate damage," said Federal Development Minister Svenja Schulze shortly after the opening of the conference. The decision is a "valuable signal" that the international community is capable of global understanding even in difficult times, said the minister.

Progress expected in renewable energies

The central theme of this year's COP is the so-called global stocktake, the global stocktaking of the progress made since the adoption of the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015. The result has been known for weeks: According to the report, the global greenhouse gas savings gap in 2030 will be around 20 to 24 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases – almost half of the current annual emissions of all countries (just under 50 billion tonnes). The calculation refers to the more ambitious 1.5-degree target. The decisive factor will be how the delegates react to this result and what measures they agree on to increase efforts.

Realistically, the countries in Dubai will agree on tripling installed renewable energy and doubling energy efficiency by 2030. On the other hand, the countries are still wrestling with whether the final declaration should also agree on the gradual phase-out of climate-damaging energy sources such as coal, oil and gas. So far, it has been mainly oil-producing countries such as Saudi Arabia that have resisted this. There could be less resistance if the capture and underground storage of CO2 (CCS) also plays a role in the paragraph.

From Friday, the world's heads of state and government will give their opening speeches on the "High Level Segment", and Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz will also speak. What has been said could give a first indication of whether this COP can be a success – and whether there is a good mood.

During the two weeks, SPIEGEL will be on site with a team of several colleagues and will keep you up to date on An overview of the current reporting can be found here.

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This week's topics

COP28 in Dubai: The 23 most important questions and answers about the UN Climate Change Conference
What are the most important topics at this year's COP? What to expect? And which alliances play a role? The Guide to the World Climate Conference.

Sultan Al Jaber at the World Climate Summit: Who trusts the oil sheikh?
Ironically, the head of a major oil company is to preside over the upcoming UN climate conference. The mistrust of him is great – and well-founded.

Germany pledges 100 million dollars: World Climate Conference starts with breakthrough
As host of the UN climate summit, the Emirates have landed a surprise coup with Germany. They want to allocate millions to the controversial fund for poor countries. The alliance could benefit the difficult negotiations.

Jennifer Morgan ahead of the UN Climate Conference: "The head of the climate conference must be very careful"
Special Envoy for Climate Change Jennifer Morgan explains why, as a former head of Greenpeace, she trusts oil CEO and climate summit president Sultan Al Jaber and why the conference could fail in the next two weeks.

COP28 in Dubai: "There is nothing left to negotiate" – Researcher criticises climate conference
At the start of the UN Climate Change Conference, scientist Johan Rockström criticised the meeting in Dubai. There is too little talk about implementation. COP28 must become more inclusive, proactive and effective.

World Meteorological Organization data: 2023 will break climate records
This year will most likely be the hottest on record, according to the World Meteorological Organization. Even the temperatures this December won't be able to change that.

Diesel privilege, commuter allowance, company car: climate-damaging subsidies cost the federal government 23.5 billion euros per year
Whether fuel prices or privileges for commuters, the state grants tax advantages that are questionable in terms of climate policy. According to a new study, their abolition would bring in more money than the federal government lacks in the next few years.

Stay confident.

Yours sincerely, Kurt Stukenberg,
Deputy Head of International Affairs