a tepid deal that just doesn’t fit

It is, in short, the most powerful thing the climate summit has achieved. However, this does not mean that it does not reach the minimum necessary to stop the crisis. The final agreement of COP28 reflects the intention of the countries to make transition away from fossil fuels in a “fair, orderly and equitable manner”. But it is vague, both in language and goals, and falls far short of the mark.

The final deal is the third version presented in about two weeks. It is the result of a struggle between those calling for a “phase-out” of fossil fuels – advocated by more than 100 countries – and calls to “reduce” their use, which was finally approved. It is also a consequence of the leadership of Fr Sultan Al Jaber, elected by Dubai as COP28 President, accused of using preparatory meetings for summits for the benefit your country’s oil and gas agreements.

“This is a real victory for those who are pragmatic, results-oriented and science-led,” said Al Jaber, who is also a director of state oil company ADNOC. That’s what the COP28 president already said “there is no science” showing that the elimination of fossil fuels is necessary to limit global warming. His leadership at the meeting was supported by the presence of 2,400 delegates related to the coal, oil and gas industry. There were more of them than government representatives.

As some celebrated, António Guterres, the United Nations secretary-general who has been calling for urgent action for years, spoke of “delays”, “indecisions” and “half-measures”. “To those who opposed the clear reference to the phasing out of fossil fuels… I want to tell you that it is inevitable whether you like it or not. Hopefully it won’t be too late.” Guterres said. after the final agreement is known.

What are the goals of the COP28 agreement?

This year is expected to end a record number emission: about 40.9 billion tons of CO₂, the main greenhouse gas pollutant. Most of these emissions are caused by the burning of fossil fuels.

It is the first time countries have agreed to declare that a transition away from fossil fuels is necessary. But that’s where the story ends. He document It does not set obligations for governments, clear limits or a calendar of events.

On the contrary, it asks “parties to contribute” a list of climate measures “according to their national conditions”. The COP28 agreement is increasing “triple renewable energy capacity” and “double average energy efficiency” annually by 2030. If achieved, it could reduce oil demand by 25% by the end of the decade, the International Energy Agency estimates.

However, the text again remains a timid call. The proposal, published on Saturday, considered the possibility of “phasing out fossil fuels in accordance with the best available science”. Delegations from the United States, the European Union and several island nations defended the proposal, but risked no agreement. Nearly 200 countries had to agree – or at least not object – or the summit would end without a joint statement.

Meanwhile, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) called on its partners to oppose any condemnation of fossil fuels. So on Monday, they moved from “phase-out” to a version that said nations should “reduce fossil fuel consumption and production in a fair, orderly and equitable manner.” For this reason, the final declaration of the energy “transition” was celebrated by some activists, taking into account that it could have been worse.

Opening of COP 28 on climate change.
Credit: COP28

Admitting failure

The group of small island states objected to some aspects of the text but agreed not to scrap the COP28 agreement. These countries are one of the most dramatic faces of the climate crisis. Celebrating what happened would be like “celebrating the flowers that will rest on our grave.”” declared Brianna Fruean, a prominent Samoan activist BBC.

Fruean explained that what has been agreed will not prevent exceeding the 1.5°C limit on global warming, the basic goal of the Paris Agreement, which was signed by almost all nations in 2015. He emphasized that the survival of the islands is at risk. This year 2023, Global average sea level has reached an all-time high.

As for the process of transitioning away from fossil fuels, the agreement only states that “action in this critical decade” must be accelerated. And he reiterates the commitment to the long-range goal mentioned earlier: zero emissions by 2050, “in line with the science.”

This tepid proposal does not match the balance of darkness contained in the same COP28 document. In the text, countries acknowledge that “deep, rapid and sustained reductions” in greenhouse gas emissions are needed to avoid warming rocketing above 1.5°C. They mention what the scientific community has already warned ad nauseam: It must be reduced by 43% by 2030 and by 60% by 2035 compared to 2019 levels.

However, what has been proposed so far is very far from this goal. According to the documentary, it is projected that the emission levels of polluting gases will fall by only 5.3% in 2030. This is assuming that the reduction plans put forward by governments are fully implemented.

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No clear help for the most vulnerable

“It is clear that eight years after the Paris Agreement, we are still a long way from limiting global warming to 1.5°C and avoiding the worst impacts of the climate crisis,” he said. Manuel Pulgar-Vidalwho was president of COP20 in Peru in 2014. He warned that the summit was leaving a “dangerous distraction”.

The summit is also closing without clear aid to the poorest countries. At last year’s meeting, it was agreed to create a new “loss and damage” fund. The occasion was expected to define clear rules for aid and commitment from the richest – and most polluting – countries. But COP28 again “called” developed countries to contribute to the fund.

Over $400 million in aid, which will be managed by the World Bank. Almost insignificant support. The UN estimates that up to $387 billion will be needed annually for poor countries to adapt to climate change.

The United Nations says so There is only a 14% chance that we will be able to limit global warming below 1.5°C. 2023 will be the hottest year on record. If things continue like this, we are on track for an increase of 2.5°C to 2.9°C this century.

“Stop fossil fuels. “Save our planet and our future,” Licypriya Kangujam banner read. The 12-year-old Indian activist spoke at COP28 on Monday. The representatives of world governments decided to applaud him after being surprised and clearly uncomfortable. For “his bravery and enthusiasm,” they said from the microphone to the audience. Judging by the final agreement, almost a mockery of the claim.

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