“#Actionism.” This word greeted passengers arriving at Dubai International Airport, the port of entry for most of the 100,000 or so climate negotiators, activists, industry lobbyists and others attending this year’s United Nations climate change conference and the events around it.

The term flickered from ads in the oddly underused metro connecting the airport directly to the COP28 venue and it was displayed on the occasional billboard along the two main roads spanning the length of the city, each with at least a dozen lanes. Apparently, the neologism is meant to convey not just action but “vigorous action to bring about change.”

This attempt to rebrand an everyday word encapsulates COP28, surely one of the most surreal climate summits to date. Between Dubai’s ostentatious fossil-fueled wealth, misguided car-centric city planning and the fact that COP28 itself was led by a fossil fuel CEO, it has been much easier than in prior years to be cynical about the whole exercise.