The climate negotiator stated that the Cop28 agreement will not succeed unless wealthy nations stop using fossil fuels.
The credibility of the Cop28 agreement to “transition away” from fossil fuels rides on the world’s biggest historical polluters like the US, UK and Canada rethinking current plans to expand oil and gas production, according to the climate negotiator representing 135 developing countries.
During a recent interview with the Guardian, Pedro Pedroso, the departing leader of the G77 plus China group of developing nations, expressed concern that the monumental agreement reached at the 2019 climate conference in Dubai may be in jeopardy.
Pedroso stated that while Cop28 was successful in achieving significant results, the current challenge is effectively implementing the agreement to benefit the public.
According to Pedroso, the major developed countries, who have historically been the top emitters, are not currently implementing policies to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels. Instead, they are actually increasing their use.
These nations also need to provide sufficient funding for developing countries to make the necessary changes and adjustments to combat the climate crisis.
Sultan Al Jaber, the president of Cop28 and leader of the Emirates national oil company, received extensive criticism in Dubai. This is not surprising, considering that the UAE is ranked as the seventh largest oil producer and fifth largest holder of gas reserves worldwide.
Last year, the United States emerged as the top global producer of oil and gas, breaking previous records. This occurred during a year that saw record high temperatures. Research conducted by Oil Change International reveals that the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and Norway are responsible for over half of the planned expansion of oil and gas production by 2050.
Pedroso, a diplomat from Cuba, expressed that it is unjust to label emerging economies, particularly the Gulf states, as climate villains. He believes that this is an attempt by countries with historic responsibilities to deflect blame and shift attention away from themselves. For example, the US has plans for increasing fossil fuel use and the UK recently granted new drilling licenses for the North Sea. Additionally, Canada has consistently failed to meet its emission reduction goals.
The G77 and China coalition is the biggest group participating in the UN climate negotiations. This diverse alliance consists of highly populated countries and influential emerging economies like India, China, Brazil, and Indonesia; significant producers of fossil fuels such as Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and Nigeria; and some of the most vulnerable nations to climate change, including Bangladesh, Vanuatu, and Yemen.
Many nations are part of multiple blocs, each with their own conflicting goals. However, developing nations have consistently joined forces in calling for developed countries to fulfill their legally binding commitments outlined in the Paris agreement, including providing the necessary resources for implementation.
In simpler terms, developed nations have a responsibility to lead the way in transitioning away from fossil fuels. This involves taking immediate action, halting expansion plans, and providing equitable financial aid so that other countries can also work towards this goal. This concept is known as common but differentiated responsibility (CBDR) and is outlined in the Paris agreements.
In 2015, a deal was made that mandates every nation to establish and execute a nationally determined contribution (NDC) that covers efforts to reduce emissions, adapt to changes, and the necessary resources such as funding, technology transfer, and capacity building. However, this has not been carried out. Currently, developing countries are facing a significant shortage of funds, amounting to trillions of dollars, hindering their ability to implement measures for mitigating and adapting to the escalating climate crisis.
The position of G77 presidency changes every year, and Pedroso will pass on the role to Uganda next week. The Ugandan government is collaborating with neighboring Tanzania and the French company TotalEnergies to build a major fossil fuel project, the 900-mile long east Africa crude oil pipeline.
“How can we prevent countries such as Uganda, Chad, and Somalia, who have recently found oil, from accessing this resource and instead demand that they raise their NDC goals? This is not fair as it does not offer any practical economic solutions for reducing poverty and promoting development. We cannot tackle climate change without considering the broader economic context.”
Climate change is a worldwide issue and requires a collective effort to maintain a global temperature of 1.5C. However, we must consider the level of responsibility for each individual and reflect it in our actions. Unfortunately, there has been a deliberate effort to weaken the concept of “common but differentiated responsibilities” and shift the focus to individual responsibility.
Ultimately, the discussions at the UN climate conference revolve around finances and political influence.
The creation of the loss and damage fund at Cop28 was a significant moment in history. Several countries, such as Germany, the UAE, and Italy, pledged to contribute immediately, with Germany committing $100m and the US offering $17.5m, contingent on approval from Congress.
According to Pedroso, the political signal was positive, but it is widely recognized that the promised amount was not enough to adequately address the loss and damage suffered by developing countries due to climate change. The effectiveness of these pledges and their ability to actually provide funding for the necessary resources is yet to be determined.
At the Dubai meeting, it was decided that Azerbaijan will host Cop29 in November and Brazil will host Cop30 in 2025. Both countries are significant producers of oil and gas.
The next two years will be critical, as countries must establish a new climate finance goal reflecting the scale and urgency of the climate challenge at Cop29, and then go to the Amazon armed with new NDCs that cover all greenhouse gasses and are fully aligned with keeping the global temperature rise to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.
Azerbaijan, Brazil, and the UAE have demonstrated their commitment and willingness to host Cop, despite the significance of oil and gas in their economies. This indicates a willingness to participate in multilateral efforts, rather than avoiding responsibility.
Looking ahead, the years 2024 and 2025 will be pivotal for carrying out plans, specifically in terms of providing necessary funds. Currently, most countries have made agreements to take action against climate change, but the only thing missing is the necessary resources.
While Pedroso gets ready to go back to the foreign ministry in Havana, he has joined a growing group of people asking the UNFCCC to look into the environmental effects of Israel’s conflict in Gaza.
The Guardian recently reported that rebuilding the approximately 100,000 buildings destroyed in the first 60 days of the conflict by Israeli bombing could result in the production of at least 30 million tonnes of greenhouse gases. The disclosure of military emissions, which make up about 5.5% of the world’s yearly CO2 emissions, is currently not mandatory.
The UNFCCC is obligated to investigate the consequences of violence and warfare against the Palestinian community from an environmental and climate standpoint. This not only affects emissions, but also the entire ecosystem, especially in terms of food production and access to water. The situation in Gaza, where the Palestinian people are already suffering from starvation, highlights the urgency of addressing military emissions. It is crucial to address this aspect as the conflict between Israel and Palestine could have been prevented.