One of the world’s top 10 largest oil producers is to host the annual climate conference, COP 28, next month in Dubai from the 30th of November. The annual United Nations Climate meeting, attended by countries that have signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, has been running since the 1990s.
With predictions that 2023 may be the hottest year on record with extreme heatwaves, wildfires, and droughts across much of the world – this climate summit is perhaps more important than ever.
However, COP 28 is being hosted by the UAE, which is one of the 10 largest oil producers in the world with plans to expand their output. This COP will have the CEO of the state oil company, Sultan Al Jaber, presiding over the negotiations.
The UAE has pledged, along with many other countries, to be carbon neutral by 2050. One of the main aims of this COP is “accelerating both and energy and a just transition” and “closing the massive emission gap”.
The first ever global “stocktake” will also take place; an opportunity for countries to review progress on the Paris Climate Change agreement to limit warming to 1.5 degrees – a target we are rapidly approaching with little progress towards preventing it.
In a press release the WMO (world meteorological organisation) stated that:
“There is a 66% likelihood that the annual average… global temperature between 2023 and 2027 will be more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.”https://public.wmo.int/en/media/press-release/global-temperatures-set-reach-new-records-next-five-years#:~:text=There%20is%20a%2066%25%20likelihood,be%20the%20warmest%20on%20record
But will COP 28 be successful in setting these goals and will countries begin to make better progress on cutting emissions?
The first COP was held in Berlin in 1995. However, since 1995, greenhouse gas emissions have only increased despite these annual conferences. According to Statista, global emissions have increased by 60% from 1990 to 2021.
Environmental activists often criticise these kinds of conferences for their lack of concrete action and “greenwashing”, a term used when organisations spend more time and money on marketing themselves as environmentally friendly instead of reducing their environmental impact.
There have been calls amongst activists to boycott COP 28 with a website and a campaign set up. Their campaign goals and reasoning behind the boycott are stated on their website: https://boycottcop28.org/about-us/.
Greta Thunberg has criticised the appointment of Al Jaber as president of the conference calling it “completely ridiculous”. She was also heavily critical of COP 26 in 2021 calling it a “greenwash festival”.
Al Jaber is aware of people’s lack of confidence of him, in an interview with the guardian he said:
Sultan Al Jaber: ‘I am not saying I have all the solutions.’ Photograph: Benedict Evans/The Guardian
“Not having oil and gas and high-emitting industries on the same table is not the right thing to do. You need to bring them all.”
The international collaboration that these conventions bring are vital for the climate movement. But the concern is that more marginalised voices will be drowned out by large companies with more influence.
There has been an emphasis this COP 28 on inclusivity. In a statement by the UAE and UN Climate Change, they detailed how “there will be space available for climate activists to assemble peacefully and make their voices heard”.
In the statement, they continue about how they “have written to all Parties [countries] urging increased participation and meaningful engagement of youth, women, local communities, and Indigenous Peoples”
COP 28, like all COP conferences before, marks a vital point in climate crisis policy. International collaboration is needed more than ever but many fear that this may be overshadowed by the demands of large oil and gas companies.
To find out more information about COP 28, check out the official COP 28 website at https://unfccc.int/cop28 .