Final effort to negotiate a new agreement for Cop28 after the initial proposal was turned down.
On Wednesday, the organizers of the Cop28 climate summit will make a final effort to reach a new agreement on addressing climate change, as their initial proposal was strongly opposed by both wealthy and less affluent nations.
A recent document discussing a possible agreement regarding fossil fuels had been in the works for over 24 hours, as the negotiations that were supposed to end on Tuesday morning in Dubai continued for an additional day.
Sultan Al Jaber, president of the talks on behalf of the United Arab Emirates, engaged in an intense round of shuttle diplomacy throughout Tuesday and had meetings with heads of delegation singly and in groups planned until 3am on Wednesday.
There was a strong disagreement among nations regarding the elimination of fossil fuels, even after a suggestion was made to decrease both production and consumption of these fuels. However, this proposal was just one of many options presented, which was deemed inadequate by several vulnerable countries. A cluster of nations referred to the text as a “death sentence” for small island states.
Activists and certain delegations strongly criticized the UK government on Tuesday after the Guardian disclosed that Graham Stuart, the climate minister, had been called back to London to vote on Rwanda. In response to the widespread backlash, Rishi Sunak instructed him to return to Dubai for the remaining time.
Climate justice advocates have informed the Guardian that wealthy nations have not demonstrated the necessary leadership to address the climate emergency. Additionally, many are too entrenched in their own contradictory actions regarding fossil fuels to make progress at Cop28.
Saudi Arabia and a few allied countries are in a small minority that have publicly raised strong objections to the inclusion of any reference to reducing the production and consumption of fossil fuels in the text of a potential deal.
Several industrialized nations are actively advocating for a discontinuation of coal, oil, and gas, but with certain conditions such as “unabated” or solely targeting coal in the United States.
On the other hand, some individuals in developing countries believe that while they want to see global temperatures kept under 1.5C of pre-industrial levels, any efforts to eliminate the use of fossil fuels must be equitable, financially supported, and implemented quickly, with wealthier countries who contribute more to pollution leading the way.
The African group, among others, is satisfied with the current draft’s main components, which include optional measures and no plans for completely eliminating or reducing the use of fossil fuels. Collins Nzovu, chair of the African group, stated that the outcome of the global stocktake should guarantee a fair, fair, and organized energy transition. Thus, the transition should be based on different approaches to reaching net zero emissions and reducing reliance on fossil fuels.
According to Mohamed Adow, the head of Power Shift Africa, the funding is crucial. Despite claiming to support a worldwide elimination of fossil fuels, wealthy nations are not willing to provide the necessary funds. As a result, developing countries are not convinced that there will be financial assistance to aid them in reducing their carbon emissions.
He stated that African nations may align with wealthy countries, but only if they were guaranteed full funding for their shift to renewable energy and if there was a clear distinction in the timeline for phasing out fossil fuels between wealthy and impoverished countries.
Activists emphasized the importance of wealthy nations recognizing their larger role in carbon emissions. Meena Raman, a climate policy specialist at her 16th Conference of Parties with the Third World Network, stated: “The international review has been riddled with deceit and double standards from the developed world, particularly the US and other coalition countries, who are now touting themselves as climate leaders by mentioning the 1.5C goal, yet avoiding any discussion of their past emissions and responsibilities.”
The United States considers this line to be very important. They are not willing to discuss fairness and insist that the text applies to all parties without distinction.
These countries are being set up to fail so that they can be blamed, while also trying to present themselves as environmental leaders even as they continue to increase their use of fossil fuels. This is a contradictory and unjust approach towards climate change.
Adow accused wealthy nations of being hypocritical in their pursuit of fossil fuels. The US, known as the top producer of oil and gas globally, is not exempt from this criticism. Meanwhile, the UK has pledged to fully utilize the North Sea and is currently constructing a new coalmine. Additionally, the EU is obtaining more gas resources from various countries across the globe.
Adow stated that the UK and US’s promises to phase out fossil fuels are insincere. He pointed out that the US is heavily reliant on oil and gas, contradicting their supposed opposition to fossil fuels.
According to Asad Rehman, the creator of the Global Campaign for Climate Justice, wealthy nations are hypocritical for claiming that the effects of climate change are a death sentence for small islands. This is because these countries have spent the past few decades refusing to reduce their emissions and instead focusing on expanding their use of fossil fuels. This pattern of behavior is a dangerous cycle, as it demonstrates a lack of ambition and a history of making promises while secretly obstructing progress.
According to Brandon Wu, the director of policy at ActionAid USA, it is crucial for wealthy nations to keep their commitments. He states that it is understandable for developing countries to struggle with committing to a phase-out of fossil fuels when they do not have confidence in receiving international support. In order to regain trust, rich countries must provide clear indications that they will provide financial aid and technology transfer.
Greenpeace UK’s head of politics, Rebecca Newsom, expressed understanding for why African nations might feel this way. She pointed out that countries such as the UK are actively seeking new sources of oil, gas, and coal, while historically polluting nations have failed to provide the necessary public funding to aid developing countries in taking action against climate change.
The Pacific Islands Climate Action Network and Oil Change International conducted an analysis that revealed 127 countries at the Cop28 talks supported a decision to gradually eliminate the use of fossil fuels. This marks a significant increase from the 80 countries that endorsed this action only a year ago.
Newsom stated that wealthy countries still have an opportunity to change course. She emphasized the need for countries such as the UK, US, EU, Japan, Canada, and Australia to take immediate action and increase public funding in order to achieve a truly equitable and ambitious outcome at the talks in Dubai.