COP28 Cryosphere Pavilion

November 30 – December 12, 2023 in Dubai, UAE

Apply to Host a Side Event at the COP28 Cryosphere Pavilion: The COP28 Pavilion will provide a place for exhibits, science-policy seminars or “side events,” and ministerial-level events in conjunction with the Ambition on Melting Ice High-level Group. This year, we plan a series of shorter and dynamic events that, for the first time, may also be largely virtual and incorporate live reports from around the COP. There will be six or seven one-hour slots each day, with sufficient breaks to allow set-up of the next event. Specific Focus Days will include the following topics: Hope for 1.5°C: feasible pathways to 1.5°C emissions reductions; mountain glaciers, snow and water resources; sea-level rise from Antarctica and Greenland; polar oceans, especially acidification; permafrost emissions; sea ice loss and its impacts, in both the Arctic and Antarctica; and for the first time, global justice and cryosphere, focused on intergenerational justice and the legal issues of committed cryosphere loss. More information is below.

Apply to Host a Side Event

Early Career Scientist Climate Internships: The COP28 Pavilion will host eight “early career scientists” (doctoral and post-doctoral level) to staff the Pavilion, four each week. They will introduce speakers, answer questions about the exhibits to make the science more accessible, and gain an inside view of negotiations to further inform their scientific careers by shadowing and supporting ICCI and other negotiators. Application materials can be found below.

Apply for the Early Career Scientist Program


New cryosphere and climate science research – some of it published even since release of the IPCC AR6 Synthesis Report in March 2023, and even more since literature inclusion closed for the “Physical Science” portion of AR6 in January 2021 – makes clear that even limited overshoot of the Paris Agreement temperature limit of 1.5°C will cause a number of irreversible global changes, due to the physical cryosphere response. Some of these ice losses will be near-immediate in response to global warming, such as Arctic sea ice (according to research published in June 2023, as early as the 2030’s). For others, especially ice sheets, glaciers, and permafrost, cutting edge research increasingly points to losses earlier and at greater scale than previously thought; with spreading and catastrophic global impacts if emissions continue on their high-end trajectory.

On the other hand, modeling also shows that very low emissions scenarios, with only a brief 1.6°C overshoot of the 1.5°C Paris Agreement goal, shows at least some stabilization of this cryospheric global threat by the end of this century, with today’s steep glacial losses evening out, and even Greenland and Antarctic loss beginning to slow – but only/only with these very low emissions, on pathways that require about 42% emissions cuts no later than 2030, a level which keeps 1.5°C “alive” by enabling net zero emissions by 2050. Low emissions (with overshoot to 1.8°C, but are nearly below 1.5°C by end of century) are not as effective in slowing the collapse of several cryosphere thresholds, especially permafrost thaw and glacier loss, or triggering the eventual collapse of the West Antarctica Ice Sheet.

All other pathways above low/very low emissions show a threshold response by global cryosphere: sea ice-free conditions in the Arctic stretching from July to October most years; unstoppable loss of virtually all glaciers in the Alps, Scandinavia, New Zealand, Andes and sub-Arctic North America and two-thirds of Himalayan glaciers, along with their water resources that support agriculture, hydropower and drinking water for an estimated 3 billion people at least seasonally; higher permafrost emissions that cut the human carbon budget and result in severe infrastructure loss across North America, Russia and High Mountain Asia. In addition to these severely changed landscapes, these higher emissions may change our coastlines with up to 20 meters sea-level rise or more, with rates of 5 cm per year and 15 meters already by 2300 “not able to be ruled out,” according to the IPCC AR6 (and strengthened by additional research conducted since).

In recognition of the need to raise these cryosphere realities at higher government levels, given their human and ecosystem impacts well beyond adaptation limits, 20 nations came together at COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh to sign the AMI Declaration. AMI, which stands for Ambition on Melting Ice, aims to raise the need for urgent emissions cuts that will “correct course” on our current high emissions pathway to the “very low,” 1.5°C limit, in order to prevent the devastating loss and damage that will occur in the wake of a collapsing cryosphere.

This COP28 Cryosphere Pavilion will therefore have a clear focus in conjunction with AMI nations and leaders: keeping 1.5°C alive as a matter of basic survival for billions not only today, but generations of tomorrow. It will be co-located with AMI Co-chair Chile, as well as the Himalayan nation of Bhutan to form a strong nexus and strategy hub to bring a cryosphere consensus to COP28.

COP28 represents a key opportunity to make the global impact of overshoot from cryosphere resulting from continued fossil fuel use abundantly clear, and the need for even major oil producing nations such as the UAE to make the necessary and rapid transition to renewables. Indeed, host city Dubai is enormously vulnerable to even low levels of sea-level rise; and the 10 meters forecast by 2300 just from Antarctica in recent studies cuts straight through the middle of the well-inland COP28 convention center.

COP28 will also see the release of the 2023 State of the Cryosphere Report, the third in the series leading up to 2030, with latest science supporting the basic effort to take 2°C off the table as an acceptable climate goal, despite its enshrinement in the Paris Agreement. Indeed, an increasing number of scientists are now arguing that because of the documented cryosphere response today at nearly 1.2°C, even 1.5°C is too high. A strengthening of 1.5°C by a cover decision that in essence takes 2°C off the table is a first step in aiming for that more science-based climate goal as part of the final Global Stocktake decision.

Cryosphere Pavilion Side Events

COP28 Cryosphere Pavilion side events (science-policy seminars) are based on the UNFCCC side event model. The COP28 Pavilion will have a strong virtual element, connecting the COP with policymakers, scientists and the general public worldwide. All side events will be livestreamed and saved on ICCI’s YouTube channel.

Side EvenTS FROM COP26, COP27

Pavilion Focus Days

The program of the COP28 Cryosphere Pavilion will include specific focus days for each of the following topics, with targeted side events (six or seven 60-minute slots per day), including ministerial-level speeches and strong Youth participation.

Hope for the Cryosphere: Feasible Pathways to 1.5°C Emissions Reductions

This day will focus on those pathways as feasible options to prevent global impacts from cryosphere, with a narrowing window for action.

Antarctica and Greenland: Overshoot Thresholds for 4-20+ Meters of Sea-level Rise

The WAIS and its collapse will cause 4-6m of SLR over time, and may already have passed that point even today; but chances of slowing or preventing that collapse are far better without overshoot of 1.5 Cº. In Earth’s past, even 2°C has resulted in 12-20 meters of SLR over time.

Global Justice and Cryosphere

For the first time, the Cryosphere Pavilion will provide a full day focused on intergenerational justice and the legal issues of committed cryosphere loss.

Snow and Mountain Glaciers: Centuries of Impacts on Water Resources

Mid-latitude glaciers suffer nearly total loss at overshoot above 2 Cº, but preserve some basis for regrowth, and some stabilization of water and other ecosystem services at 1.5 Cº. However, mountain-dependent regions, in particular the HKH face challenges today.

Sea Ice: Global Feedbacks

Antarctic sea ice hit a record low this year, with potential feedbacks to ice sheet loss and global ocean currents. In the Arctic Ocean, ice-free summers will still occur within the 1.5 Cº limit; but by 1.7°C, this is projected to become an annual phenomenon. By 2°C, projections show ice-free periods stretching from July to October most years; with feedbacks including increased permafrost thaw and Greenland ice loss/sea-level rise; and harm to Arctic food chains and communities.

Permafrost: Centuries of Carbon Emissions from Overshoot

Permafrost carbon emissions drive some degree of global warming. Those emissions are increasing: they are already on the order of Japan’s; but overshoot to 3-4°C will introduce a “permafrost contribution” closer to that of China or the U.S. today, but lasting 100-200 years; necessitating generations of negative emissions well after anthropogenic emissions cease.

Polar Oceans: Long-tailed Legacy of Acidification, Warming and Freshening

Polar oceans and high latitude seas already show fisheries and shell impacts today, because these colder waters absorb CO2 more quickly. Those impacts will be greater still with overshoot of CO2 concentrations especially above 450ppm, which with current growth of 2-3ppm annually will be breached around 2030. Warming, freshening and invasion by low latitude species all only add stress towards (in worst-case emissions) a mass extinction event.

Upcoming - 2023 State of the Cryosphere Report

The Cryosphere Pavilion will have six displays showing the most recent knowledge of global and regional impacts from cryosphere at different peak CO2 concentrations and temperatures, tied to emissions goals. Each display will focus on a unique cryosphere dynamic: polar ice sheets and sea-level rise; polar and near-polar ocean acidification/ warming/ freshening; mountain glaciers and snow; Arctic sea ice; permafrost thaw and carbon emissions; and 1.5°C pathways and government/stakeholder examples, illustrating how 50% reductions by 2030 remain achievable with sufficient political will.

The displays will be based off the upcoming 2023 State of the Cryosphere Report, the third in the series leading up to 2030, which underscores the need for urgent emissions reductions to limit the far-reaching and intergenerational consequences of cryosphere loss.

2022 State of the Cryosphere Report

Financial Support for the COP28 Pavilion

ICCI will again coordinate Pavilion activities and exhibits, in strong cooperation with various partners, including lead organizing partners for the various Focus Days. We are still seeking diverse and strong support from a variety of government, multilateral, academic and private foundation partners, both for the Pavilion itself and in support of its programme; if interested in contributing, please contact Past Pavilion financial support has included:

Countries/Multilateral: Switzerland, Nordic Council of Ministers, France, Scotland, Chile

Academic, International Organization and Private Foundations: Bolin Centre for Climate Research/Stockholm University, International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), Woodwell Climate Research Center, British Antarctica Survey, Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research (SCAR), Swedish Post Code Lottery Foundation, Karuna Foundation, GiveOne Foundation

In addition, nearly 100 academic institutions have participated in past Pavilions with participants and in-kind support. These include: Grantham Institute at Imperial College, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Climate Analytics (Germany), INACH (Chile), Plymouth Marine Laboratory (UK), Antarctic Research Centre, University of Wellington (New Zealand), National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC, U.S.), St. Andrews University (Scotland), Bristol University Glaciology Centre, East China Normal University, Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI), University of Oslo, Woodwell Climate Research Center, Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research (SCAR), Arctic Council (AMAP, ACAP Working Groups); and of course, many scientists of the IPCC.

Contact Us

If you have any questions, please reach out to:

Pam Pearson

Executive Director

International Cryosphere Climate Initiative (U.S)

International Cryosphere Climate Initiative-Europe (Sweden)

Amy Imdieke

ICCI Global Outreach Director

Pavilion Logistics and ECS Coordinator