Yet again, another COP is in the news, this time COP28 (the 28th Conference of Parties, or UN Climate Change Conference) being held in Dubai. Thus far, a positive development has been the launching of a “loss and damage” fund for vulnerable countries, to which wealthier nations, including Ireland, will contribute. The Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, highlighted the many benefits of reducing emissions, while acknowledging that the concerns of certain sectors need to be addressed and finance provided to change to a carbon neutral future. In his address, UK’s King Charles made a heartfelt plea that this COP MUST be a “critical turning point” in the fight against climate change, with “genuine transformational change”. He also made the sage observation that “The Earth does not belong to us, we belong to the Earth” – it would behove us all to echo those sentiments. The UN Secretary General António Guterres seeks the phasing out of ALL fossil fuels and has prevailed on the fossil fuel companies to transition to renewable energy, rather than extract more coal and oil, which in the long run will jeopardise the economic sustainability of those same companies. It is to be hoped that the “phasedown/out” of fossil fuels, contained in the first COP28 draft, will be agreed by all, as these contribute overwhelmingly to greenhouse gas and CO2 emissions. COP can seem far removed from our everyday lives, BUT we can (MUST) play our part. As Christmas approaches, we could all think before we buy – for example, how far has the proposed gift travelled? Is it made of plastic? Is it sustainable? Is it durable? Can it be reused or recycled? Is all the food in the trolley really going to be consumed? Would it be better to purchase one good quality item rather than many of poorer quality? Buying local where possible reduces air miles and aids the local economy.