Representatives from almost 200 nations gathered last week at the COP28 summit in Dubai. The UAE, as the host and an OPEC member, aimed to advocate for a low-carbon future that embraces rather than rejects fossil fuels.

This narrative, supported by other major oil-producing countries, will expose global divisions during the summit regarding strategies to address global warming. Nations are divided on whether to focus on gradually eliminating coal and oil/gas or on advancing technologies like carbon capture to reduce their climate footprint.

COP28 Summit Focus

The yearly United Nations summit, occurring from November 30 to December 12, unfolds against the backdrop of the world on the brink of breaking another record for the hottest year in 2023. Concurrently, reports affirm that countries’ climate commitments fall short of averting the most severe consequences of global warming.

In the futuristic and technologically advanced city of Dubai, nations face pivotal decisions. One such decision is whether, for the first time, to collectively commit to a gradual “phase-out” of global fossil fuel consumption, replacing it with alternative sources like solar and wind.

Crucial COP28 Summit Talks

The United Nations’ 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28) is set to commence on Thursday in Dubai, marking a crucial gathering where nations will engage in debates surrounding the phased reduction of fossil fuels.

This summit holds particular significance as the oil-rich United Arab Emirates (UAE) faces mounting pressure to play a pivotal role in brokering a meaningful climate deal. The deliberations at the COP28 summit are expected to spotlight a growing rift over the role of the oil and gas sector in the global effort to combat climate change.

As countries convene to discuss strategies for transitioning away from fossil fuels, attention will be keenly focused on the UAE, given its substantial stake in the energy industry and the imperative for it to align with international climate goals.

This summit represents an opportunity for nations to collaboratively address the challenges posed by the continued reliance on fossil fuels, with a particular emphasis on fostering agreements that support a sustainable and low-carbon future.

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The discussions will extend beyond the negotiating tables, incorporating various side events and forums to explore innovative solutions and strategies, reflecting the broader spectrum of concerns related to climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Dubai Summit: Global Fossil Fuel Phase-Out Debate

Nations convening in Dubai face a crucial decision: to collectively embrace a historic “phase-out” of global fossil fuel consumption in favor of alternatives like solar and wind. The International Energy Agency, a key energy watchdog, outlined its stance in a pre-conference report.

The agency dismissed widespread carbon capture as an illusion, urging the fossil fuel industry to choose between exacerbating the climate crisis or transitioning to clean energy. In response, OPEC accused the IEA of unfairly portraying oil producers, emphasizing that greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels are the primary driver of climate change.

Controversy Surrounds COP President’s Ties to Fossil Fuels

Debates over the ongoing use of fossil fuels have honed in on COP’s incoming president, Sultan al-Jaber. As the CEO of the UAE’s national oil company ADNOC, concerns have been raised by campaigners, certain U.S. Congress members, and EU lawmakers about his ability to impartially broker a climate deal.

Jaber strongly refuted a report by the BBC and the Centre for Climate Reporting (CCR), denying any plans to discuss potential gas and other commercial deals with over a dozen governments ahead of the summit.

“At a news conference on Wednesday 29th November, 2023, Jaber declared that the allegations are untrue, false, and inaccurate. He emphasized that this is an attempt to undermine the efforts of the COP28 summit presidency.”

Jaber has acknowledged that the gradual reduction of fossil fuels is “inevitable.” However, he has also stressed the importance of involving the industry in discussions on climate solutions. He positioned himself as ideally situated to mediate in this debate.

Climate campaigners remain unconvinced or are not reassured. Ani Dasgupta, president of the World Resources Institute, a climate NGO, remarked,

“We have a world with more fossil fuels than ever. What we should be seeking is a commitment to genuinely reduce fossil fuels.”

Jaber asserts that he has been mobilizing support from companies for COP28 summit pledges focused on decreasing emissions from oil and gas operations. The Dubai gathering, with a record attendance of 70,000 registered participants, is taking on the character of a trade show, with numerous industry representatives present.

Organizers highlight that this summit will witness the largest business participation in any U.N. climate summit to date. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Britain’s King Charles are slated to attend, while U.S. President Joe Biden will not be in attendance.

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COP28’s Crucial Mission: Gauging Global Climate Progress

Beyond the limelight of high-profile attendees, country delegations at COP28 face a critical task—evaluating the world’s deviation from the 2015 Paris Agreement goal. This objective aimed to curtail global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius, with an even more ambitious target of 1.5 degrees Celsius.

This evaluation, termed the global stocktake, is anticipated to produce a comprehensive plan outlining necessary actions for each country. Subsequently, governments must translate this global strategy into national policies and targets, due for submission to the U.N. by 2025.

Leading up to the conference, the European Union, the U.S., and the UAE have garnered support for a proposal to triple global renewable energy capacity by 2030. While over 100 countries have endorsed this initiative, notable exceptions include China and India.

Optimism surrounds a recent climate deal between the world’s largest emitters, China and the U.S., reached earlier this month. The agreement commits to increasing renewable energy and hastening the transition away from coal, oil, and gas generation—a potential positive influence on the upcoming discussions.

COP28 Summit: Global Call for Inaugural Climate Damage Fund

At the COP28 summit, a pivotal agenda item is the initiation of the globe’s inaugural climate damage fund, aimed at aiding nations already grappling with irreversible climate change impacts, from droughts and floods to rising sea levels.

While representatives from both developed and developing nations have tentatively agreed on the fund’s design, its final approval hinges on consensus from all countries present at the COP28 summit.

Gayane Gabrielyan, Armenia’s representative for the fund, emphasized the urgency of approving the “loss and damage” agreement, especially with elections looming in countries like the U.S., where political consensus could be jeopardized.

A critical litmus test is whether affluent nations commit the hundreds of millions required to kickstart the fund during the COP28 summit. The European Union and the U.S. have pledged contributions and are urging others, including China and the UAE, to follow suit.

Najib Ahmed, National Consultant at Somalia’s Climate Ministry, reflects on past experiences, acknowledging incomplete global agreements but maintaining hope, emphasizing the importance of persevering despite challenges. Source: Reuters

FAQs

What are the Focus areas of the COP28 Summit?

These focal points could encompass decarbonization solutions, aiming to achieve economies of scale in energy technologies like green hydrogen, Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage (CCUS), sustainable fuels, and long-duration energy storage.

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Which Country hosts the COP28 Summit?

Prime Minister Modi held a meeting with UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan during the COP28 Summit in Dubai. PM Modi expressed gratitude to UAE President Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan for co-hosting the significant high-level event on the Green Climate Programme (GCP) at COP-28.

What is the Theme of COP28 Summit 2023?

Transforming climate finance by fulfilling previous commitments and establishing a foundation for a fresh financial agreement; Prioritizing nature, people, lives, and livelihoods as the focal point of climate action; and Rallying for the most inclusive COP to date.

What Does COP Stand for Climate?

COP stands for the Conference of the Parties, and the summit was attended by the countries that are signatories to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This treaty came into force in 1994.

What to Expect from the COP28 Summit in Dubai?

The themes of the COP28 summit, as designated by the host nation, encompass technology and innovation, focusing on collaborative efforts by governments and the private sector to restrict warming to 1.5°C.

Other key areas include inclusion, emphasizing engagement with diverse populations; frontline communities, ensuring adaptation measures for the most climate-vulnerable groups; and finance, addressing funding gaps for adaptation and the energy transition while aligning public and private finance with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

What Happens at COP Summit?

During the COP summit meetings, countries evaluate the progress (or lack thereof) in climate action and engage in negotiations to determine future steps, including strategies for reducing emissions. In addition to closed-door negotiations, summits feature side events covering a wide range of topics, from discussions on energy to exhibits showcasing the future of food.

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