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What COP28 needs to address to avoid climate disaster


The climate is on its way to exceeding a 1.5°C increase in the global temperature. World leaders can stop it – but they have to act now.

In the run up to COP28, its incumbent president, Dr Sultan Al Jaber made an impassioned plea, saying: ‘We must deliver, let this process prove that multilateralism still works.’

But optimism is in scant supply. Russia’s war in Ukraine and now the war between Israel and Hamas has ratcheted up tension, enhancing distrust and undermining willingness to cooperate, and retrenching the idea that fossil fuels are key to energy security in turbulent times. 

This palpable distrust was not helped by revelations, this week, that the COP presidency had allegedly planned to use COP28 as an opportunity to discuss new oil and gas deals for the UAE.  This has led to yet further calls for Al Jaber – notably also head of the giant Abu Dhabi National Oil Company – to step down. The UAE team said meetings were private and insists it is still focused on delivering ‘meaningful climate action.’

On Monday, OPEC struck back at critical claims in an International Energy Agency report which said that oil and gas producers have been only a ‘marginal force’ in the energy transition – saying the industry ‘must not be vilified.’

All this feeds into the suspicion that petro-states, vested interests and COP28 itself will resist efforts to the phasing down or out of fossil fuels. Climate campaigner Greta Thunberg said that the COP – the annual meeting of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) – has been ‘hijacked by fossil fuel lobbyists’ and is incapable of delivering anything other than greenwash.

So, is there even a risk that the inherent tensions erupt to undermine previous agreements?

Click here to continue reading the full version of this Expert Comment on the Chatham House website.


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