The 28th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28), a pivotal event shaping the future of global climate action, commenced today at Expo City Dubai, continuing until December 12. COP28, hosted by the UAE, has garnered unprecedented participation with 500,000 attendees across its Blue and Green Zones, including over 180 heads of state and government representatives.
It was noted that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was not in attendance. This absence comes despite an official invitation from Abu Dhabi last May, inviting him to attend the summit in person. 1 who pointed out the environmental impact of Assad’s actions during the Syrian conflict and questioned the appropriateness of his presence at a climate-focused event.
Al-Assad’s absence from the summit, which is scheduled to run until December 12, has fueled speculations about underlying diplomatic dynamics, particularly given the Western disapproval of the UAE’s invitation to him. There has been no official explanation from either the Syrian regime or regional entities regarding Assad’s non-participation, dismissing the possibility that it was due to mere protocol issues.
WAM news agency highlights that COP28 is not only the largest climate event globally but also a crucial platform for advancing the highest climate ambitions and fostering sustainable development. The conference is set to review the first global progress on the goals of the Paris Agreement from COP21, with an emphasis on transforming commitments into concrete action against climate change.
Government-owned SANA news agency reported that Syrian Prime Minister Hussein Arnous arrived in the UAE today, leading the Syrian delegation at the Global Climate Action Summit, integral to COP28. The Syrian delegation’s arrival, welcomed by Anwar Mohammed Gargash, the Diplomatic Advisor to the UAE President, underscores Syria’s dedication to climate change discussions and solutions.
Sir Howard Morrison
Earlier, a report by Sir Howard Morrison KC, former Judge of the ICC, on the environmental damage caused by the Syrian war has been released, in light of President Bashar Al-Assad’s invitation to attend the COP28 summit at the end of November in the UAE. The full report is available here.
The report highlights the extensive environmental damage caused by the war in Syria including deforestation, oil spills, acid rain, and major health problems for Syrians. It recommends that Assad’s invitation by the UAE to COP28 be rescinded. The report emphasizes that the UAE’s invitation to Assad risks the summit being misused in order to ‘greenwash’ the widespread environmental crimes that Assad and his armed forces have perpetrated in Syria. The environmental effects of his war on the country should instead be addressed at COP28.