The United Nations cautions against searching for ways to exploit the system, following Saudi Arabia’s suggestion that transitioning away from fossil fuels is only one potential solution.
The UN’s climate chief has emphasized that governments should not attempt to exploit any gaps in the global agreement made in December to shift away from fossil fuels. He also urged for a significant amount of funding to be provided to developing countries to address the climate crisis.
Some countries have sought to play down the significance of the deal reached at the Cop28 UN climate summit in Dubai, the first time that governments have made such a pledge on oil and gas.
During a conference last month, Saudi Arabia’s energy minister, Abdulaziz bin Salman, expressed that the option to shift away from fossil fuels was just one of many choices available on the summit’s menu of actions. However, this interpretation was strongly rejected by others.
Simon Stiell, the executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, declined to specifically target any nations, but cautioned against using loopholes in decision documents or avoiding the difficult tasks ahead through selective interpretation. This approach would ultimately be detrimental to any government, as the effects of climate change will impact every country’s economy and population.
He informed a group of students and diplomats at ADA University in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, on Friday that the agreement made in Dubai conveyed a powerful message about the unavoidable need for global decarbonisation. This year’s Cop also took place in Baku.
The previous Cop conference emphasized the importance of nations tackling fossil fuels as the main contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. This year, the focus will be on financial issues, which are expected to be just as contentious.
The current amount of financial aid provided to assist impoverished nations in reducing their emissions and dealing with the effects of severe weather is widely acknowledged to be inadequate. However, there is little consensus on how to increase this aid.
Developed nations are facing demands to promise greater aid to developing countries, but the amount required in the long run surpasses what can realistically be provided through government funds. As a result, countries are seeking alternative means of financing, both from public and private sources, in order to achieve trillions of dollars in annual investments.
Stiell stated that it is crucial for us to work together over the course of the year to improve our global financial system to better align with our needs. This includes having a concrete strategy in place to effectively implement the necessary changes for transitioning to a more sustainable climate. It is evident that finance plays a critical role in the success of our fight against climate change.
He stated that without significant investment, the resolutions made at Cop28 to transition away from fossil fuels would simply become empty promises and not lead to real progress.
According to Rachel Kyte, a previous high-ranking climate representative at the World Bank and consultant for the UN and various governments, the upcoming year will present challenges in addressing the climate emergency. This is due to the fact that over 60 countries, which make up over half of the world’s population, will be holding elections in some capacity in 2024.
The outcome of the US presidential election and the campaigning process will significantly influence the UN Climate Change Conference, as the potential Republican nominee, Donald Trump, previously initiated the withdrawal of the US from the Paris Agreement during his previous term in office.
Kyte cautioned that the upcoming Cop29 conference, coinciding with a year of major elections worldwide, will present challenges for Stiell’s roadmap due to ongoing conflicts, slow economic growth, and a lack of urgency among political leaders in many countries. This has led to a distorted understanding of climate progress, with populists from both ends of the political spectrum framing it as a struggle between the average person in the developed world and those in the developing world.
This year, it is probable that global temperature records will be exceeded, just as they were last year. According to scientific research, the heatwaves experienced in the US and Europe last year would not have been possible without the effects of the climate crisis caused by human activity.
This year’s host country for Cop29, Azerbaijan, has not played a high-profile role in the global climate negotiations up to now. The country is highly dependent on oil and gas, which make up about 90% of its exports, and plans to increase its oil and gas production capacity by about a third over the next decade.
Mukhtar Babayev, the chosen leader of Cop29, dedicated 26 years to his career at the state oil company. The government of Azerbaijan made a significant mistake in the initial stages of preparation by announcing a committee of 28 male officials. In response to public criticism, President Ilham Aliyev expanded the team to include 29 men and 12 women.
Stiell and his team will assist Azerbaijan in organizing Cop29, working in collaboration with the presidency to lead the year of negotiations. This will result in a two-week summit in November, which is anticipated to have participation from over 190 countries.
A senior consultant for Stiell stated: “The main focus of this speech is to emphasize the importance of moving forward with our duties. For the executive secretary, remaining impartial is crucial in fulfilling their role. Therefore, delivering this speech in Baku, rather than Davos or any other location, was a logical choice.”