Irish premier Leo Varadkar has travelled to Dubai to attend Cop28, where he will deliver Ireland’s national statement on Saturday.

Cop28 – or the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change – runs until December 12 at Expo City Dubai.

World leaders are meeting with the aim of agreeing on targets to tackle climate change and assess the progress made on the 2015 Paris Agreement targets.

Taoiseach Mr Varadkar is expected to hold several meetings with world leaders to discuss climate issues, but the invasion of Ukraine and the conflict in the Middle East are also expected to be discussed.

The summit was also due to be attended by Pope Francis, but his trip was cancelled on Tuesday due to ill health.

Speaking from Dubai, Mr Varadkar said the conference is “a crucial opportunity”.

“We’ve had a year of record-breaking temperatures and alarming severe weather events, including some on our own shores, which have had disastrous consequences for the lives and livelihoods of thousands of people around the world.

“The Global Stocktake will assess what the world has actually achieved since the Paris Agreement of 2015, when 196 countries agreed to limit global warming. We must work harder and faster to secure a safe, healthy, prosperous environment for all.

“One of the most effective ways to help individuals is a better system of climate finance.

“Sadly, the countries suffering most from climate change often have the greatest difficulty getting access to the finance and resources they need to deal with it.

“So, I look forward to Cop28 making progress on a new loss and damage fund.

“Ireland has committed to 225 million euro a year from 2025 to climate finance, the highest ever in our history, and I fully expect us to reach that target.

“At a time when the world is divided in so many ways, the urgent need to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and bring down our emissions is one challenge that unites us all.

“We also need to scale up and prioritise adaptation.”

He added: “Climate change is happening even faster than most people anticipated. The international community must achieve the goals it has committed to.

“The transition must be just and fair. I’m really conscious that both the effects of climate change and the actions needed to prevent it do not affect people equally, so we must make sure we protect the most vulnerable in everything we do.

“Whatever is agreed here at Cop28, it will have consequences for the future of our planet and its people.”