COP28: Turning Point in the Climate Agenda under the Watch of Oil and Gas Industry

Author Alexander Tatiev
Category Columnists, Culture, Lifestyle, Town
Date December 15 2023
Reading Time 2 min.

COP28: Turning Point in the Climate Agenda under the Watch of Oil and Gas Industry

The recently concluded COP28 summit in Dubai marked a pivotal moment in the climate discourse: for the first time in history, almost 200 countries agreed on the importance of phasing out fossil fuels (coal, oil, gas, and others). While the summit’s outcomes can be seen as progress, a complex set of problems persists. So, let’s examine the pros and cons of the global community’s decisions.

PROS:

Recognition of Fossil Fuel Issues: The summit reached a historic agreement unequivocally acknowledging the harmful role of coal, oil, and gas in the climate crisis. The document emphasised the need for a gradual shift away from their use towards renewable energy sources (solar, wind, geothermal, etc.). However, the speed of this transition is left to the discretion of each country. It’s worth noting that during COP26 in Glasgow two years ago, countries already decided to gradually phase out coal, yet its extraction and consumption continued to rise.

Concrete Targets: Within the agreement, participating countries made a strong commitment to eliminate emissions entirely by 2050. Currently, carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides play a significant role in atmospheric pollution.

CONS:

Human Rights Gaps Persist: Amnesty Internationals Programme Director of Climate, Economic and Social Justice and Corporate Accountability Marta Schaaf emphasised the need for more decisive measures. She stated, “The outcome [of the summit] leaves loopholes allowing fossil fuel producers and states to continue with business as usual, and so falls short of what is needed to protect the rights of billions of people facing climate harms.” These concerns highlight a delicate balance between environmental goals and potential human rights violations.

Insufficient Funding: There are no adequate commitments from major nations to fund assistance for developing countries in adapting to the detrimental effects of climate change. This leaves indigenous peoples, small communities, and marginalized groups at risk and without sufficient support. In response to COP28 outcomes, Oxfam International’s Climate Change Policy Lead Nafkote Dabi, expressed disappointment, stating, “Everyone fighting against the global climate crisis has little to celebrate from this disappointing COP28.

Technological Solutions Need Further Exploration: Amnesty Internationals Climate Advisor Ann Harrison expressed deep concern about the inclusion of unproven and even non-existent technologies, such as “carbon capture and storage,” in the final agreement. This, combined with weak formulations regarding the gradual phase-out of fossil fuels, may unintentionally provide fossil fuel companies with freedom of action and protection from accountability.

Conflict of Interest Among Participants: COP28 faced criticism for its participant composition, with an disproportionately low representation of civil society and an unprecedented number of invited fossil fuel lobbyists. Amnesty International called for reforms in the ethical selection of host countries, noting that the United Arab Emirates ranks among the top ten largest oil exporters. According to human rights advocates, there was a potential conflict of interest among participants at the conference. Adhering to these demands is crucial for ensuring that future international climate summits adhere to the principles they promote. The appointment of Sultan Al Jaber, the head of one of the world’s largest oil and gas companies, as the summit’s president raised concerns within the climate community regarding the influence of the fossil fuel industry on shaping green policies. Additionally, stringent rules on protests and actions, coupled with widespread surveillance, created a intimidating atmosphere at COP28, hindering the ability of civil society to express its position.

These were the outcomes of COP28, and the next summit promises to be ironic as well Azerbaijan, a country where the fossil fuel industry has financed its development for decades, will host the event.

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