Contributed by Joe Montero
Even before the Cop28 climate summit at Dubai in the United Arab Emirates had even begun, some nations had already been working to prepare the ground to prevent decisions that will make the necessary progress towards the emission reduction target needed to stop the threat of a climate change disaster. This effort to halt progress continued as the talking started.
Headed by vice-president Kamals Haris, the United States delegation brings plans to increase its own oil and gas industries, while pretending to be all for emissions reduction.
Vice President Kamala Harris is representing the United Stats at Cop28 and working to limit real climate action
“This is a pivotal moment – our action collectively, or worse our inaction, will impact billions of people for decades to come,” Harris told delegates in her address to the representatives of nearly 200 nations present at the start of the summit.
The cover is a promise not to build new coal fired power plants and a pledge of $US 3 billion to the Green Climate Fund. Promises had been made at earlier Cop summits and not delivered. Will it be different this time?
Furthermore, the pledge to reduce emissions applies to methane and not carbon, which is the principal agent raising the temperature of the planet.
The host nation’s President of this year’s summit, Sultan Al Jaber, had already gone so far as to insist that the phase out of fossil fuels would “take the world back into caves.” Al Jaber happens to be the chief executive of the United Arab Emirates’ state oil company, Adnoc, and therefore has a serious conflict of interest.
Photo by Anadolu/Getty: Sultan Al Jaber is head of oil company called Adnoc
Such a bold contradiction between serving as President of Cop28 and lobbying for fossil fuels is obvious and casts further doubt over the whole event. Which begs the question, why was he appointed to the role in the first place?
The European Parliament’s delegation is led by Christian democrat Peter Liese, who has publicly pushed for blaming and making China pay much more of the cost. The reality is that China’s carbon footprint on a per capita basis is far less than the industrialised nations, has significantly passed its own targets. And is the world’s biggest contributor to sustainable energy.
The accusation covers the fact that Europe is failing to meet its on commitments.
The graph above shows the failure of Europe to cut emissions between 2020 and 2023.
In contrast to the negative, there is a push to commit to a call for a tripling of the world’s renewable energy capacity by 2030 supported by 117 countries.
United Nations General Secretary Antonio Guterres told the gathering on Friday: “The science is clear: The 1.5C limit is only possible if we ultimately stop burning all fossil fuels. Not reduce, not abate. Phase out, with a clear timeframe.”
Cop26 in Glasgow in 2021 agreed to phase down coal use but chose to go down the road of using the market mechanism relying on corporate investment, instead of government direct action. Naturally, it failed. The following cop27 achieved no better.
Guterres’ contribution was positive and deserves to be welcomed. But when it comes to the summit itself, it should not follow Cop’s history of fine sounding words and doing nothing to honour them. Its legitimacy rests on what it does and not for providing a talk fest for 70,000 politicians, diplomats, journalists, bureaucrats, and financiers.
A critical issue relating to global cooperation on emissions reducing and raising sustainable energy alternatives, is the need for wealthier nations to help poorer ones to make the transition. An ongoing proposal to commit enough money into a global fund for the purpose, isn’t supported by the United Sates and Europe. Without this aid, an intolerable burden is put on those least able to afford it. This holds back global unity and action.
Western nations have contributed the bulk of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and should pull their weight accordingly. The United States and Europe are aiming in the opposite direction.
Australia has moved away from the embarrassingly loud championing of the fossil fuel industry to support the tripling of renewables. This is positive.
Don’t expect any miracles at Cop28 though. The outcome will not be known until the summit is over and an agreement released. But form here, it looks like this summit will continue the succession of failures.