On the 28th of October, it was announced that Azerbaijan, a country heavily reliant on petroleum, will be the host of the upcoming 2024 United Nations climate summit. This was documented as it unfolded.
The 28th Conference of Parties (Cop28) is set to take place in 2024 and 2025, during which all countries must present their new climate targets. Lisa Fischer from the E3G thinktank believes this will be the most crucial topic at the UN climate summit. The pressure is on Cop28 president Sultan Al Jaber to serve as a neutral mediator between the countries as they negotiate and reach a resolution on the issue.
During the initial week of Cop28, there was a considerable backing for a gradual elimination of fossil fuels instead of a gradual reduction, according to her statement. However, there has also been significant scrutiny directed towards Al Jaber regarding his potential conflict of interest and the importance of him prioritizing an ambitious outcome.
Al Jaber is the CEO of the UAE’s state oil company, Adnoc, which is planning a major phase up of oil and gas production. Scientists are clear that the expansion is incompatible with getting emissions to net zero by 2050.
The most recent version of the negotiation text presents various possibilities for a gradual elimination. According to Fischer, “I believe Al Jaber has acknowledged this pressure and has ensured that some forward-thinking options are being considered, which align with the requests of participating countries.”
“However, his responsibilities extend beyond that,” she explained. “He must also ensure that there is room for a bold outcome and prevent any efforts to weaken the language regarding the phase-out of fossil fuels from being accepted in the negotiation room.”
According to a report by the Guardian on Friday, confidential letters from the oil cartel Opec were leaked to its member nations. These letters revealed the high level of worry among petrostates regarding a potential decision to phase out fossil fuels. The head of Opec warned that this could lead to irreversible consequences if pressure against fossil fuels continues to increase. He urged the countries to actively reject any proposal that specifically targets fossil fuels rather than emissions.
Fischer stated that the Opec correspondence holds importance as it reveals ongoing efforts to weaken language regarding fossil fuels. It is crucial for Al Jaber to establish a clear starting point and differentiate himself from these countries in order to be perceived as an impartial mediator. The UAE is a central member of Opec.
The African group’s chief negotiator has cautioned that the discussions at Cop28 have not yet resulted in fair and just financial measures for climate adaptation, which are crucial for the survival of the continent.
The topic of adaptation is currently being talked about in relation to the global stocktake (GST). This is an evaluation of how much progress has been made in fulfilling the promises made in the 2015 Paris agreement. The long-awaited global goal on adaptation (GGA), which was suggested by the African group in 2013 and established under the Paris agreement, aims to promote political efforts and funding for adaptation at a similar level as mitigation. The completion of this goal is expected to take place in Dubai.
However, advancements have been lacking and nations have not reached a consensus on specific objectives and regulations, let alone create a feasible structure and financial agreements that accurately acknowledge the challenges faced by developing countries, particularly in Africa. It remains uncertain if the proposed results will be achieved, as countries have yet to reach an agreement on the preliminary text.
Ephraim Mwepya Shitima, the leader of the African group of negotiators, stated that we are facing a critical adaptation crisis that is causing harm to our vulnerable populations. It is crucial for the global community to take action and provide adequate financing to bridge the adaptation gap, ensuring that Africans are not left behind. This must be a top priority for the outcome of Cop28.
What makes the decrease in use of fossil fuels the main source of conflict at Cop28? How do prepositions like “out” and “down” affect the temperature of the planet? What does “abatement” mean and why is it important?
My coworker Damian Carrington can provide insights on these and other major inquiries you may have about this influential, yet complex, climate summit.
Hundreds of representatives took to the streets to advocate for environmental fairness and to urge for an urgent halt to violence in Gaza.
“The crowd chanted, ‘Climate justice is a right for all, not just the wealthy and privileged,’ as representatives from 180 countries debated climate finance and access to adaptation strategies. The protest, filled with passionate energy and accompanied by traditional drumming, smoke ceremonies, and dancing, saw Indigenous individuals from the Brazilian Amazon and Guatemalan highlands marching alongside grassroots activists from Cameroon and peasant leaders from Pakistan. This marks the first public demonstration held in the UAE in more than ten years.”
Episcopal priest Rev. Rachel Taber-Hamilton, representing the United States, stated: “I am present here as a representative of the Episcopal church. I believe in the power of the people. It is crucial for communities to unite because we are all tired of being hurt and exploited by the dominant economic culture.”
Isvilaine da Silva Conceição, a member of the Laboratory of the Climate Observer, stated: “I am present today to stand in solidarity with all members of civil society who are fighting for the preservation of our lives and our planet every day. We are united in spreading this message to those who are not present at Cop: urgent action must be taken now. Time is running out.”
As the sun started to go down, a moment of quiet was observed to pay tribute to the numerous Palestinian non-combatants who have lost their lives in the past sixty days. This includes 70 members of the media and their loved ones. The silence concluded with calls to “stop the occupation” and “Palestine will not be free until everyone is free.”
In Dubai, representatives from various countries are currently engaged in conversations about the specific wording of a statement regarding fossil fuels. This decision holds significant consequences for the future of all mankind.
Following the initial success of the loss and damage fund, Cop28’s primary focus is on the speed and determination with which governments around the world commit to phasing out fossil fuels in order to mitigate global warming.
The outcome of the summit, according to several negotiating teams, will determine its success, but the future is unpredictable.
Should we gradually eliminate or reduce the use of fossil fuels? Is it necessary for the world to completely eliminate fossil fuels or just their emissions? What is the proper role of carbon capture technology? Should we eliminate the use of unfiltered fossil fuels or all types of fossil fuels? Is it better to decrease the consumption or production of fossil fuels?
Ministers are tasked with finding satisfactory solutions to these inquiries and others in order to reach a definitive consensus in the upcoming days. The current topic of discussion at Cop28 revolves around each country’s non-negotiable terms: what are Saudi Arabia’s true views on fossil fuels? What steps must India take to achieve a fair transition? How will the African group respond to weak adaptation goals regarding fossil fuels?
The difficult discussions are beginning now. In the meantime, Cop28 president Sultan Al Jaber is handling it all calmly. This afternoon, he was seen signing a football at the entrance to the site.
Almost 2,000 bots have been identified boosting Cop28 on X. They were found by Marc Owen Jones, an expert on social media disinformation and the Middle East, who believes the “greenwash” army is “likely connected to the UAE or a UAE-aligned entity”.
According to Jones, there is a distinct distribution of tasks among 22 individuals referred to as “generals,” who are responsible for creating and sharing content. This content is then amplified by approximately 1,900 individuals known as “minions” who give likes to the posts. The minions are organized into smaller groups, so not all 1,900 individuals will automatically like every post from a general, which Jones believes is a clever strategy.
There is a particular individual with the username @bint_jumeiraah who is an AI-generated profile and has a verified blue checkmark. This user frequently shares images of Cop28 president Sultan Al Jaber walking alongside prominent figures like Saudi Arabia’s energy minister and UAE astronauts. Additionally, another account named @sheikhasoltan shared a post where Dr Sultan Al Jaber emphasized the importance of “carbon capture” technologies in achieving climate neutrality and turning challenges into opportunities.
Jones, a faculty member at Hamad Bin Khalifa University in Qatar, stated that numerous tweets are expressing admiration for Cop28 president Sultan Al Jaber. Other tweets commend the UAE and Cop28 as a whole. Currently, the network is focused on promoting the positive impact of Cop28, the UAE, and Al Jaber on the issue of climate change.
Earlier this year, the bots were active in defending the controversial hosting of Cop28 by the oil-rich UAE on X (formerly known as Twitter) and Medium. According to a report by The Guardian in June, some messages praised Al Jaber as “the ally the climate movement needs”. Although one account had a profile picture generated by AI, the text labeling it as fake had not been removed.
The spokesperson for Cop28 stated that they have been dealing with this problem for several months. Any suggestion that the Cop28 presidency is involved with these recent bots is untrue. These accounts seem to be created by external individuals, as was the case before. When we discover these types of campaigns, we inform X and may seek legal advice on how to address the issue further.
The UNFCCC has faced criticism for not clearly stating if individuals protesting outside the Blue Zone will be protected from strict Emirati laws, which include hefty fines and imprisonment for expressing dissent.
Based on eyewitness accounts, human rights organizations engaged in a week-long negotiation to secure permission for a protest in the Blue Zone. They also obtained clearance on the number of political prisoners that could be referenced, as well as specific details about their cases. As a result of these negotiations, the groups were forced to reduce the number of political prisoners mentioned during the protest. Additionally, they were required to include British-Egyptian political prisoner Alaa Abd el-Fattah in order to broaden their criticism of arbitrary detention beyond just the Emirates.
Shortly before the protest, UNFCCC employees presented the group with several additional requests. These requests involved concealing the identity and specifics of political detainee Mohamed al-Siddiq, who is part of the “UAE 94” group of dissidents that were unfairly convicted in a mass trial according to Amnesty International.
Joey Shea from HRW expressed astonishment at the UN’s actions, deeming them as “completely absurd” and “almost petty.” He was taken aback by the extensive efforts made to censor the names of Emirati political prisoners. This level of censorship is particularly surprising, especially considering the UN’s previous statement in August claiming that this would be the most tolerant Cop ever. The UN’s extreme measures, even within the Blue Zone, are concerning.
She stated, “There is a lack of freedom of speech at this police station.”
The UNFCCC granted permission for the demonstration to take place in the Blue Zone last night, after a week of discussions with advocacy groups. “It has been quite difficult,” stated Shea, referring to HRW’s attempts to bring attention to the situation of Ahmed Mansoor, a prominent human rights activist who has been held in solitary confinement in the UAE since 2017.
The UN informed us 20 minutes before the event that we could only display one poster featuring one political prisoner. We selected Mohamed al-Siddiq. During negotiations this week, they requested that we limit the number of posters featuring Emirati prisoners and include pictures of Alaa Abd el-Fattah to avoid specifically targeting the UAE. As a compromise, we agreed to have t-shirts displaying Ahmed Mansour, the cover of our report on his case, and two posters featuring different Emirati political prisoners, as per our understanding.
“We had approval from the UN for the poster featuring Mohamed al-Siddiq, but just before the start of our action, we had to cover up a section mentioning his wrongful imprisonment and the revocation of his family’s citizenship with duct tape. They claimed that some of the text was still visible, so we had to fold the posters in half to hide it,” she explained.
According to reports, UNFCCC employees made multiple returns up until just minutes before the event, requesting additional alterations to the posters and determining which text or images would be displayed during the brief protest.
Pictures from the occasion display participants, estimated to be 20 by organizers, carrying compact signs with Mohamed al-Siddiq’s image hidden and without any information about his situation. They were also wearing t-shirts featuring Ahmed Mansoor’s likeness. The UNFCCC has been contacted for a statement regarding the demonstration.
Based on the International Monetary Fund’s findings, even though it is the main factor contributing to the climate crisis.
During a media briefing in Dubai, Wopke Hoekstra, the European Union’s climate commissioner, declared that it is imperative to put an end to the inconsistency of subsidies for fossil fuels, as they are impeding progress.
The Canadian climate minister, Steven Guilbeault, encouraged nations to eliminate subsidies sooner. He stated, “By gradually eliminating ineffective subsidies for fossil fuels globally, we can ensure that our spending aligns with our climate goals.”
The declaration and list of signatories have not yet been released, however, Canada, Antigua and Barbados, along with several European nations, have joined the Netherlands in making the announcement.
Christiana Figueres, former UN climate chief during the signing of the historic Paris agreement in 2015, stated at a recent Guardian Live event that her preferred course of action for reducing fossil fuel usage is the removal of subsidies. She emphasized that despite the urgency of the climate crisis, the world is still spending $7 trillion annually on fossil fuel subsidies. She believes that redirecting this funding towards safeguarding humanity would greatly advance our progress towards a sustainable future.
According to a report by the IMF, the combined subsidies for oil, gas, and coal in 2022 amounted to $7 trillion. This accounts for 7% of the world’s GDP and is almost twice the amount spent on education. Despite promises to gradually eliminate these subsidies and accurately reflect the environmental impact of fossil fuels in their prices, countries have made minimal progress thus far.
In response to the increase in energy prices due to Russia’s conflict in Ukraine, countries doubled their use of explicit subsidies, reducing the cost of fuels for consumers. According to the IMF, these subsidies primarily benefited wealthy households rather than lower-income ones. The remaining 80% of the $7tn total consisted of implicit subsidies, which encompass the significant expenses incurred from the harmful effects of fossil fuels on climate change and air pollution.
The president of Colombia has cautioned that the fear of losing a comfortable lifestyle due to environmentally-friendly policies is fueling the emergence of far-right movements globally.
During an extensive conversation with the Guardian at the Cop28 UN climate conference, Gustavo Petro, the first leftist president of Colombia, emphasized the importance of finding carbon-neutral methods for achieving prosperity. He also stated that Colombia’s abundant biodiversity would serve as the foundation of its wealth once it transitions away from fossil fuels.
The nation of South America has become part of a coalition of nations advocating for a treaty to prevent the spread of fossil fuels, as Petro believes it is crucial in avoiding the destruction of our planet.
The 63-year-old former guerrilla fighter, who won power in 2022, said Brazil needed to “transform its mindset” on the Amazon to prevent its destruction. Petro has disagreeed with the Brazilian president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, over the role of oil exploration in the world’s largest rainforest, which Petro has sought to rule out.
He stated that protecting the Amazon rainforest was a crucial element in addressing global climate change and that Colombians were aware of its significance.
Despite being a major producer of coal, oil, and gas, Colombia has emerged as a prominent advocate at Cop28 for the first round of discussions on the potential elimination of fossil fuels.
Petro stated that the high level of comfort, wealth, and standard of living in countries like the United States, Europe, and China is sustained by heavy use of carbon. However, when efforts are made to reduce carbon emissions, this foundation is challenged. Petro acknowledges the challenge of finding a viable alternative.
Hundreds of delegates gathered in the far corner of the Cop28 B zone amid lots of UN police for a tightly-regulated march for climate justice.
The protesters demanded a halt to violence in Gaza and recited: “Climate justice is a matter of human rights.” Some of the government representatives observed included representatives from Canada, Sudan, Jordan, Brazil, and Sweden.
According to Asad Rehman, a climate justice activist and leader of War on Want, influential nations have been urging the UN to prevent us from advocating for a ceasefire. However, there is no more appropriate setting than the UN to call for a ceasefire, especially considering that it was at the UN where the world declared “never again” to genocide.
It’s worth noting that in Glasgow – the first time the UN was so heavily criticised for restricting civil society voices – tens of thousands of people marched in cities across the UK to demand climate justice. The UAE does not allow such public dissent and the UN is imposing its own restrictions.
The refrain “Palestine will be free, from the river to the sea” has been prohibited at the march by the United Nations. This chant refers to the territory stretching from the Jordan River, which forms the eastern border of Israel, to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. Palestinians view it as a call for freedom and resistance against Zionism, while Israel deems it as promoting anti-Semitism.
Tasneem Essop, the leader of the global advocacy organization Climate Action Network, stated that the demand to limit the demonstrations advocating for a ceasefire did not originate from the UAE.
The guidelines and guidelines for achieving the country’s goal are not very strict, as there is no requirement for landowners or managers to agree. This is concerning, considering that most land in England is privately owned. The document states that contributing to the 30 by 30 target is optional and there is no obligation for landowners or managers to take part. Contributing simply acknowledges areas that are already being successfully conserved and managed for biodiversity.
Although any current designation requirements, such as nature or heritage designations, will still be in effect, the new 30 by 30 contributions do not introduce any additional management obligations or designations. Landowners or land managers have the option to withdraw their contribution at any time if they choose to do so.
The framework emphasizes that ministers are aiming for a “bottom-up” rather than a “top-down” approach, and that it is the landowners’ choice to contribute to the goal by willingly offering up some of their land for conservation purposes.
The document suggests that the government may be relying on the marine ecosystem, which they have greater authority over, to compensate for any lack of advancement on land. According to the document, 40% of the UK’s oceans are designated as Marine Protected Areas; however, activists argue that these protections are not effectively enforced.
The government restated its commitment to establishing a new national park and national forests. It also stated that developers will be required to follow biodiversity net gain rules in order to support the achievement of this goal.
Currently, only 8.5% of England’s land is designated as protected for nature. However, with only six years remaining to reach the 2030 goal, the lack of obligations for landowners does not bode well. This is further emphasized by the fact that the majority of protected land (7.6%) is classified as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), which is one of the few types that comes with legal protections.
Unveiled by The Guardian.
The Elders, chaired by Robinson, stated on X that the pair acknowledged the urgency of achieving an ambitious result and urged all countries at Cop28 to commit to phasing out all fossil fuels, tripling renewable energy usage, and ensuring a fair transition. The phase out is considered the most crucial matter at Cop28.
On November 21, Al Jaber informed Robinson that there is no scientific evidence or scenario that suggests the elimination of fossil fuels will result in achieving a 1.5 degree Celsius target. He also challenged her to provide a plan for phasing out fossil fuels that would still allow for sustainable socioeconomic development, unless she intends to regress society back to primitive living.
At a hastily called media briefing, he reiterated his belief that the reduction and elimination of fossil fuels is unavoidable and crucial. He also expressed great admiration for Mary Robinson.
The Cop28 account on X (formerly known as Twitter) shared a post about the meeting on Saturday. Additionally, the account shared a post from Annalena Baerbock, the German foreign minister, advocating for a reduction in fossil fuel usage. This could suggest that the Cop28 presidency is aiming to reach an agreement on this goal.
He was not just an exceptional journalist, but also an outstanding coworker and friend. We have received numerous heartfelt messages and anecdotes about him and the generous acts he performed.
John’s expenses were described in a wonderful story by his colleague, Paul Brown.
Perhaps the best glimpse of his character came one morning in the office when tears were running down his cheeks. Asked what was the matter, he said a couple of months before he had been in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, and visited the district with the highest death rate for young children. He had met two women and they told him that it was lack of fresh water that was causing infant mortality on a terrible scale. What they needed was a well, but they had no money to build one.
John explained that he had the precise amount of money required for the well in his Guardian expenses. He then handed it over to them on the condition that they inform him via email once the project was completed. Overwhelmed with emotion, he tearfully expressed his gratitude upon receiving the news that their children were no longer perishing.
John, known for always being late with his financial records, was asked later that week to justify his spending in Bangladesh. Following a suggestion from a coworker, he listed “drinks for 5,000” and was surprised that no one questioned it.
We have received numerous accounts from writers and activists about his benevolence and helpfulness.
We all remember John whisking around the halls of Cop, where he knew absolutely everyone. His long-standing colleague Damian Carrington also remembers how Vidal also often caused “good trouble”.
During the UN climate summit in Copenhagen, his disclosure of a confidential draft agreement sparked controversy. Developing countries were angered by the text, which they perceived as giving more authority to wealthy nations. Additionally, while covering a story on whaling, he was incarcerated in the Faroe Islands.
I am now passing on the responsibility to my colleague Ajit – I appreciate all of your messages thus far!
During the final days of negotiations, the Cop28 presidency is collaborating closely with pairs of ministers to reach a consensus on the most contentious elements of the final resolution. These discussions are atypical in several ways: the issue of loss and damage was resolved early on, which is a significant difference from the Cop27 talks in Egypt last year, where developed and developing countries were at a standstill until the wealthy nations had a significant change of heart in the last days, ultimately agreeing to establish a separate fund for loss and damage instead of allocating funds through existing means.
Developing nations were rightfully angry that they had to put in a significant amount of effort to obtain that concession. Wealthy nations seemed to have taken note of the humbling situation at Cop28 and addressed the issue of loss and damage on the initial day in an effort to establish trust.
However, providing funding for loss and damage is not the sole solution for helping developing nations manage the effects of the climate crisis. The purpose of loss and damage funding is to assist in the recovery and rebuilding efforts of countries devastated by severe weather events. Additionally, the issue of adaptation is closely connected, as it focuses on strengthening countries’ ability to withstand extreme weather, ultimately reducing their reliance on the loss and damage fund.
For a while now, adaptation has been an overlooked topic in these discussions, causing frustration among developing countries who feel that wealthy nations have not provided sufficient funding. The majority of the annual $100 billion in climate finance aimed at supporting developing nations primarily focuses on “mitigation” efforts to decrease greenhouse gas emissions. However, for multiple years, poorer countries have been advocating for a doubling of funds allocated towards adaptation.
If advanced nations aim to progress with their proposals for decreasing the use of fossil fuels, they must also consider the matter of accommodating the less privileged.
Although it may appear that there is insufficient time remaining to close the significant divide between countries regarding the phase out of fossil fuels, it is also uncommon for negotiations to reach such a critical point with ample time for further discussion. There are four days, from Saturday to Tuesday, during which significant progress can potentially be made. In relation to bridging the immense gap between countries in favor of and against a fossil fuel phase out, four days is a short period. However, in terms of the potential for negotiations to go awry, four days can feel like an endless and nerve-wracking stretch. The key to success during these lengthy and isolated hours in conference rooms with no windows and air conditioning will be to prevent the phase-out option from being disregarded by opposing countries.
Saudi Arabia is currently under scrutiny as it has been reported by the Guardian that they are actively working to rally Opec countries against phasing out fossil fuels. The United Arab Emirates, who is hosting the talks, has a strong partnership with Saudi Arabia. In an interview with Guardian, Cop president Sultan Al Jaber expressed confidence in Saudi Arabia’s involvement and stated that the government has displayed a positive attitude and engagement towards achieving ambitious climate action goals at Cop28.
He stated, “They are working together and are driven by determination. They have been collaborating effectively in all aspects of climate.”
As the negotiations continue, Al Jaber’s objective is to translate that optimism and involvement into concrete results.
The International Centre for Climate Change and Development, located in Bangladesh, was a prominent advocate for the developing world’s perspective on the climate emergency. They provided guidance to governments and were always present at the yearly UN climate conferences.
“Huq attended the first “conference of the parties”, in Berlin in 1995, and was one of only a small number of people around the world to have been at every one since.
After years of Cops had produced little movement, Huq began to believe that issues of equity, social justice and the demands of poor countries were being sidelined. He was increasingly frustrated that smaller, developing countries were being taken for granted, or regarded as mere supplicants.
A common issue was the animosity between advocates for economic growth in underprivileged nations and environmental activists. Development organizations believed that addressing climate issues took away from their primary goal of alleviating global poverty.
Huq aimed to address these divides and prove that tackling the climate crisis requires acknowledging the importance of social justice, fairness, the historical obligations of wealthy nations for their greenhouse gas emissions, and the developmental needs of impoverished nations.
Together with other experts on climate, he started focusing on the concept of “loss and damage”. This concept aimed to address the issues surrounding the responsibility of wealthy nations in causing the climate crisis, and the disproportionate impact it would have on the most vulnerable populations.