Do 70,000 People Really Need to Be at a Climate Confab?

Do 70,000 People Really Need to Be at a Climate Confab?

The expanding crowd risks overshadowing the purpose and turning the meeting into another celebrity-studded gathering of rich people.

How many people do you think it takes to hammer out a global climate agreement? 500? 5,000? 50,000?

Apparently, the correct answer is 70,000. That’s about how many people are expected to turn up in Dubai over the next few weeks for COP28, the latest United Nations climate confab, which starts on Thursday. This is up from 49,704 at COP27 last year in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, and 38,457 at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland. Attendance has more than tripled since 2019. In COP’s early years, attendance averaged just 5,000.

Whether this explosion is a sign that the world is taking climate change more seriously or just the bloat that naturally accumulates around gatherings of humans who control large pools of political and financial capital remains to be seen. Is COP Man devolving into Davos Man? The answer depends partly — but not entirely — on how much real progress gets made over the next few weeks.

COPper Inflation

The number of people attending the UN’s annual “COP” climate-change talks has ballooned in recent years.

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