70,000 Global Leaders, Climate Activists, and Billionaires Come Together at COP28 in Dubai: Who's There

Jamie Bichelman - Author

Dec. 1 2023, Published 1:33 p.m. ET

Mariam Almheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment in the United Arab Emirates, and Bill Gates attend the Leaders' Event: Transforming Food Systems in the face of Climate Change at Al Waha Theatre during the UN Climate Change Conference COP28 at Expo City Dubai on December 1, 2023 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Source: Getty Images

The Gist:

  • COP28 marks the 28th annual meeting of the Conference of Parties of the United Nations.

  • The COP is the decision-making body that votes on important measures, such as global climate policies.

  • Notable attendees at COP28 include King Charles III, Vice President Kamala Harris, billionaire BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, and billionaire Microsoft Co-founder Bill Gates.

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The United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference, alternatively known as the 28th annual meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP28), convened on Nov. 30, 2023 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and runs through Dec. 12, 2023.

Throughout the two-week period, delegates from nearly 200 nations, climate scientists and activists, and other notable attendees will discuss climate concerns, make their thoughts known on threats to environmental progress, and much more. As COP28 progresses, Green Matters will provide updates as world leaders and other prominent guests make their way in and out of the annual conference.

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Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, President of the UNFCCC COP28 Climate Conference, speaks to the media following the opening session of the conference on November 30, 2023
Source: Getty Images

Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, President of the UNFCCC COP28 Climate Conference.

Who is attending COP28? Here's a look at the world leaders taking part in the conference.

Heads of world governments are considered to be the “main players” among the attendees of each year’s conference, per Reuters.

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Notable world leaders confirmed to attend COP28, per the Associated Press and other sources:

  • Vice President Kamala Harris, U.S.
  • John Kerry, U.S. Climate Envoy
  • King Charles III, U.K.
  • Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, U.K.
  • President Emmanuel Macron, France
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India.

The U.S. is also sending a number of delegates to the conference, including:

  • Michael Regan, EPA Administrator
  • Antony Blinken, Secretary of State
  • John Podesta, Senior Advisor to the President for Clean Energy Innovation and Implementation, White House
  • Brenda Mallory, Chair, White House Council on Environmental Quality.
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King Charles III and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Rishi Sunak attend the opening ceremony of the World Climate Action Summit during COP28
Source: Getty Images

These important climate players and world leaders are not attending COP28.

Perhaps just as noteworthy as the names in attendance are the notable figures missing from the proverbial roll call.

According to Reuters, China is the global leader in both clean and dirty energy, which makes President Xi Jinping’s absence from the conference a significant one.

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U.S. President Joe Biden’s absence will likewise be scrutinized, as Mother Jones reports that the U.S. is set to extract more oil and gas than any year on record, a topic that U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry will continue to address at COP28.

Pope Francis had originally planned to attend COP28, but on Tuesday, Nov. 28, the pope canceled his visit due to illness, The BBC reported.

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, who CNBC reported was among the many critics of the UAE's decision to name Sultan Al Jaber the president of COP28, actually boycotted COP27 in 2022. However, per Reuters, Thunberg spoke at the COP28 preparatory conference in June 2023, so there's a chance she could make an appearance.

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King Charles III speaks with activists and celebrities Leonardo DiCaprio and Stella McCartney, during COP26 in 2021
Source: Getty Images

A total of 70,000 people will attend COP28.

According to the UN, COP28 expects at least 70,000 delegates to show up for the climate conference.

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One such attendee is billionaire activist and philanthropist Bill Gates, who delivered the keynote address at the at COP28 Business and Philanthropy Forum on Dec. 1, 2023, per The Independent. In response to criticism of grandiose meetings like COP28 being “all talk and no action,” Gates acknowledged to CNBC that, collectively, countries are “falling short of our aspirations in many areas.” He nevertheless remains optimistic for future progress.

Based on social media posts, a number of notable climate activists traveled to Dubai for COP28, including Isaias Hernandez (@queerbrownvegan), Xiye Bastida, Kevin J. Patel, and Vanessa Nakate.

Some organizations sending delegates to COP28 include the NRDC, Canopy, and EarthDay.org.

And unfortunately, plenty of fossil fuel lobbyists will be in attendance as well, from companies including Chevron, BP, and ExxonMobil, according to Heated. Seriously.

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