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Cop28 diary: expensive coffee, cheesy slogans and petrol fumes

There is sufficient intellectual stimulation.

If the climate conferences are fueled by their stomachs like armies, then Cop28 appears to be well-prepared.

In contrast to the initial disarray of Cop27 in Egypt, there is now food available. The options are mostly plant-based, reflecting the significant environmental impact of meat. One option was a sandwich made with avocado, edamame, and hummus.

However, not everything is inexpensive. A cup of coffee costs $6 (£4.75), which is pricier than the majority of cafes in New York. As a result, attendees with limited funds are bringing their own lunches and insulated containers.

There are options available for carnivorous individuals, such as a halal chicken sausage roll, which is a significant improvement from the limited meat offerings at previous events such as Cop24 and Cop27 in Poland.

Eco fashion

The annual climate conference is where you can spot the world’s most fashionable individuals, as representatives, diplomats, and activists from over 180 countries add some flair to the serious and formal discussions, leaving London fashion week in the dust.

Dubai is not disappointing, with Pacific island floral garlands, silk saris and brilliant white dishdashas, and Maya huipiles, Amazonian headdresses, and west African Ankara wax fabrics. Seeing and hearing people from every corner of the planet is always one of the highlights of Cop. NL

A man and woman wearing tribal headdresses

Welcome to the petrostate

Upon arriving at Cop28, many delegates will have traveled along a 12-lane highway through the desert city of Dubai, which is heavily polluted with petrol fumes. This serves as a reminder of the United Arab Emirates’ reliance on fossil fuels and its status as a petrostate. This is not the first time the smell of fossil fuels has been a prominent feature at the climate conference; in 2018, attendees in Katowice, Poland were surrounded by the smoky scent of coal for the entirety of the two-week event.

There are visual signs too. One delegate opened her hotel room curtains on her first morning to be greeted by the largest gas power generation facility in the world: “Fitting. I am going to stare at this through the haze of pollution for two weeks.” And on heading into the conference centre on the metro, at least 50 tall industrial smokestacks mark the way. DC

Unsettling atmosphere

The location of Cop28 is typically vast and uninteresting, as most gatherings tend to be. The walls are covered with generic phrases like “Taking action leads to trust” and “Hope fuels action”, which could easily make you forget that this event is being overseen by an oil company executive. They sound more like cliched sayings generated by ChatGPT.

However, certain representatives who arrived in Dubai expressed greater worry about the external environment surrounding the expansive Expo City. On Tuesday and Wednesday, a fog descended upon Dubai, obscuring its towering structures and causing poor air quality that is considered unhealthy for individuals with sensitivities, according to IQAir, a service that monitors air quality. Although there was a slight improvement in air quality on Thursday, the first day of Cop28, it was still four times higher than the recommended levels set by the World Health Organization.

Sandstorms can cause hazy days here but much of the pollution stems from the UAE’s network of oil and gas fields near Dubai. Gas is flared almost on a daily basis, worsening air pollution, despite a commitment by the UAE to stop the practice, the Guardian revealed last month. OM

  • Is it possible for fossil fuel companies to switch to renewable energy sources?

    Join Damian Carrington, Christiana Figueres, Tessa Khan, and Mike Coffin for a live discussion on the possibility of fossil fuel companies transitioning to renewable energy. The event will take place on Tuesday, December 5 at 8pm-9:15pm GMT and can be accessed by booking tickets at theguardian.live.

Source: theguardian.com