COP28: The Glass is Half-Full

The ongoing gathering addressing global climate concerns faces criticisms, but we choose to highlight it as a vital platform for collective action and collaborations in steering the world toward sustainability

By Thais Lopez Vogel

The COP is an annual gathering convened by the United Nations to address global climate issues. “COP” stands for “Conference of the Parties,” referring to the nations that have ratified the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.

These parties have pledged to undertake actions to avert detrimental human-induced disruptions to the climate system.

Since the Paris Agreement’s adoption during COP21 in 2015, successive conferences have centered on realizing its primary objective: to halt the global average temperature increase, aiming to stay well below 2°C and striving to limit it to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

The COP28, currently underway in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, is expected to agree on more robust measures but will also emphasize the strategies for their implementation.

COPs have been subject to criticism. That’s not a bad thing, as it fosters discussion to find common ground for climate action. Let’s address some of the objections against COP28.

Sharing the Table with Fossil Fuels

Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber faced disapproval for leading COP 28 while being chairman of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC). According to the BBC, he doesn’t view his dual roles as conflicting. However, his stance has sparked controversy. As The Guardian reports, during a panel discussion he argued: “There is ‘no science’ behind demands for the phase-out of fossil fuels.” His response to the comments was that what he said had been “misinterpreted.”

On the other hand, Spectrum News NY1 states that he asked former Irish President Mary Robinson, now chair of The Elders, an independent group of global leaders: “Please help me. Show me the roadmap for a phaseout of fossil fuel that will allow for sustainable socioeconomic development unless you want to take the world back into caves.”

Is it bad news to have a fossil fuel businessman at the helm of COP28? I do not think so. Since fossil fuels are at the core of the climate crisis, advocating for change within the industry makes sense.

Climate activists and fossil fuel corporations hold divergent views, yet there’s a potential for common ground. Fossil energy undeniably propelled one and a half century of human progress, albeit unknowingly at the cost of environmental harm.

Acknowledging this, a shared path forward emerges: Transitioning collaboratively to eco-friendly energy sources. As we embrace this shift, fossil fuel companies possess the expertise and resources to evolve into providers of green energy.

This transition not only fosters environmental sustainability but also sparks new business models and employment opportunities, aligning the interests of both activists and corporations in shaping a greener, more promising future.

Boosting Pledges

President Joe Biden has also faced backlash for his absence at the summit, with demands and expectations for a resounding stance from the American government, given the nation’s status as the second world’s polluter.

The absence is reasonable, considering the intricate challenges the government is navigating on both national and international fronts. However, it’s crucial to note that this absence doesn’t signify a detachment from climate action.

Vice President Kamala Harris did represent the United States at the summit. During her attendance, she declared a substantial commitment: a pledge of $3 billion to the Green Climate Fund. This fund stands as the foremost international initiative aimed at bolstering climate action in developing nations, accumulating pledges exceeding $20 billion to date.

This shifted the conference’s focus to the financial commitments required for climate funding.

As reported by the news agency Reuters, The United Arab Emirates, host of this year’s conference, pledged $270 billion in green finance by 2030 through its banks, and several development banks made fresh moves to scale up their funding efforts, including by agreeing to pause debt repayments when disaster strikes.

Despite criticisms and undeniable tasks yet to be done, COP meetings prove to remain indispensable arenas for driving collective action and fostering the necessary collaborations to steer the world toward a more sustainable future.

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