According to Fiona Harvey, the agreement made at Cop28 in Dubai can be seen as a gradual elimination of fossil fuels. However, the question remains: was this truly the case after a 30-year wait?
The Dubai agreement discusses a shift “towards alternative sources of energy”. This sounds promising. However, what does “in energy systems” refer to? The phrase is not defined in the agreement, making it unclear.
The most likely meaning is that it refers to sources of power such as power plants, and sources of heat like combined heat and power plants or home heating systems. Therefore, “energy systems” refers specifically to the production of electricity and heat. Cop28 did not urge countries to move away from using fossil fuels entirely, but rather to transition away from using them for electricity and heating purposes. The call for transition did not extend to heavy industries (such as chemical or steel production, or plastics) or the food industry.
The agreement allows for the possibility of catastrophic climate change. People must come together more than ever in the future to alter this course.
Prof Rupert Read
Co-leader, Climate Majority Project
2 and non-CO2)
According to George Monbiot’s article “Cop28 is a Farce Rigged to Fail, But There are Other Ways We Can Try to Save the Planet” on December 9th, it is necessary to approach the climate issue by addressing specific pollutants such as CO2 and non-CO2 emissions, rather than attempting to tackle it as a whole.2
The Paris agreement can account for the reduction of greenhouse gases, such as methane, through natural sinks like forests, permafrost, and peatlands, or through specific industries like cooling, steel, and aluminum. By creating individualized treaties that benefit both wealthy and developing nations, solutions can be implemented to address each component of emissions reduction.
There is a plan in place called the Montreal Protocol Ozone Treaty. In addition to helping the ozone layer recover, its required actions have prevented the same amount of warming caused by CO2. Along with the 2016 Kigali Amendment, which gradually reduces hydrofluorocarbons, this plan will prevent a temperature increase of 2.5 degrees Celsius by the year 2100.
The agreement outlined in the protocol proves that a sectoral agreement can be effective. The next objective should focus on reducing methane emissions. This action has the potential to prevent a temperature increase of 0.3 degrees Celsius by the 2040s, and it can be achieved in a shorter period of time compared to other strategies. A good starting point would be to hold the 50 companies who committed to reducing their methane emissions to near zero by 2030 accountable for their promises.
The US, EU, and China have the potential to spearhead this treaty. Monbiot’s proposed strategy allows for swift progress to be made. There is no need to delay for another disappointing Cop.
The head of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development.
Director, IGSD Paris office
Oliver Milman emphasizes the risks associated with depending on “magical” technologies, as climate experts warn that these innovations can divert attention from real solutions. However, the availability of inexpensive and plentiful energy has enabled humanity to jeopardize various planetary limits. Therefore, simply replacing one energy source with another will not solve our current predicament.
The main reason for climate change is due to the overuse of natural resources and the actions and structures that support it. It is crucial that we address these issues. Currently, we are using more fossil fuels than ever before. Additionally, many solutions require a significant amount of resources, are slow in implementation, and are based on outdated thinking.
The marketing, media, and entertainment sectors have influenced human behavior to encourage excessive consumption of natural resources. However, given the urgency of the situation, we suggest utilizing these same tactics to counter our materialistic tendencies, operate within the Earth’s boundaries, and prevent ecological disaster.
The crises we face are a result of economic and political power structures, as well as vested interests. One of our major challenges is finding a way to change these forces and undo the harm they have caused. We urge a collective effort to find solutions for promoting global adoption of new standards for consumption, reproduction, and waste.
Prof Christopher J Rhodes
Fresh-lands Environmental Actions, Reading, Berkshire
Prof Phoebe Barnard
Mount Vernon, Washington, US