Climate summits are usually stories and the COP28 held in Dubai is so clear and focused that it is difficult for anyone to pull a rabbit out of a hat to hide behind to hide a failure. The line of success or failure is drawn: it is known if for the first time it is possible for the almost 200 countries that are in these negotiations to make a direct call for the progressive end of the production and use of all fossils fuel, something that should mark the way for climate plans that countries should present to the UN.
The last part of this conference, which began on November 30 and should end this Tuesday, reached the live debate on the end of these fuels, the main responsible for the climate crisis that is already affecting humanity. It has the support of the EU and many other countries that want an ambitious closure of the summit, but with the public and resounding rejection of oil countries like Saudi Arabia or Iraq. The possibility of the fuels being openly discussed has raised alarms in these countries, as well as in OPEC, the organization that unites the largest oil exporters on the planet.
Coal, oil and gas are primarily responsible for greenhouse gas emissions, the widespread burning of which since the Industrial Revolution is driving global warming. But for years climate negotiations have focused on bullets and not guns, that is, on gases (with reduction targets set) and not on the fuels that produce them. But in this COP28 the focus is completely on the emission source, something that is actually paradoxical, because the person leading the negotiations is Sultan al Jaber, the Minister of Industry of the United Arab Emirates, a country where the 30% of their income. directly from oil and gas. In addition, he is the head of the public hydrocarbon company, ADNOC.
But Al Jaber, under pressure precisely for that and after disseminating some of his controversial statements before the summit where he opposed the end of the use of hydrocarbons, acknowledged several times that he considered it “necessary” in a progressive way. reduce or eliminate all fossil fuels. . In the drafts released in recent days, all the options are maintained, and until this Monday the COP28 presidency will not give a more or less definitive proposal to the negotiators after listening to everyone’s positions. One of the main doubts, the sources of the negotiations explained, is what verb will accompany the discussion (if it continues) of fossil fuels: eliminate, reduce, replace, displace.. .
Many of these negotiators are facing the last hours this Sunday with a sense of all or nothing, as explained by the delegation of the EU, whose members act as a block and where Spain, and Vice President Teresa Ribera, in particular, has a role. when representing the Twenty-seventh. Bilateral and group meetings between the countries took place throughout the day to try to bring the positions closer and reach a language acceptable to all in the final text. Sultan al Jaber, before meeting all the negotiators at once, they asked for “flexibility” and recalled that this is the only presidency of a COP that put fossil fuels on the table until the end, as as requested by many. countries. And this is true, as is your country’s capacity for dialogue with almost everyone involved. “The Emirates can talk to everyone, because it has friendly relations with everyone, with Russia, with China, with the EU, with Arabia…”, sources highlight the negotiations. The problem is that the decisions of the COPs must be made by consensus, not by majority.
The EU came to this COP28 with a mandate: to achieve a call for the progressive end of fossil fuels, although leaving the door open to carbon dioxide capture and storage systems for some industrial activities, one of the unfinished battles. Even if the story is all or nothing, the verbs and adjectives included in the final texts are decisive, because they can leave a back door more or less open for the fossil sector, which is concerned exactly how the impact of this conference. . Along with the EU, other ambitious countries have aligned themselves with similar positions, such as Chile, Colombia, Norway and the small island-states threatened by rising sea levels.
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Low profile of the largest global emitter
The United States and China, the world’s two largest economies and the world’s two largest emitters, maintained a lower public profile at the summit, although the negotiations were not abandoned. It should be noted that the United States is the world’s leading oil producer; like China in the case of coal. But the two countries signed a joint declaration a few days before COP28 that gave clues about their position: they committed to tripling the world’s renewable energy capacity to “facilitate the transition to produce coal, oil and gas.” The tripling of renewable power is another of the calls expected to come out of the summit and many believe that in that context it is necessary to request the elimination or reduction of fuels. In other words, encouraging the replacement of some sources of energy with others.
But Saudi Arabia or OPEC or other oil countries like Iraq do not want to hear about direct discussion of fossil fuels. Publicly, in the plenary of the summit, Saudi Arabia clarified that the references should be to greenhouse gases and not to the sources that cause them. Talk about bullets and not guns. Iraq’s representative expressed the same thing this Sunday, rejecting any request to reduce or eliminate hydrocarbons. In a quiet but similar position – in this case because of the importance of natural gas – is Russia, whose confrontation with the EU even led it to continue the venue of the next summit blocked until now, something that is expected to be cleared . at the end of COP28.
References to the reduction or elimination of fossil fuels to replace them with renewables are mentioned in the text of the so-called balance of the Paris Agreement. This agreement, which was signed in 2015, establishes as a goal that the warming will not exceed 2 degrees Celsius and, as far as possible, 1.5. To do this, countries must present voluntary plans to cut emissions to the UN (the sources of which are not discussed, so the important step involved in making them clear now at COP28) will lead to to that end. But these plans now lead to an increase in temperature between 2.1 and 2.8 degrees, always compared to pre-industrial levels. That is what is known, but the balance that must be done at this COP28 is expected to also include indicators for the next round of national plans that countries must present in 2025. The purpose of the presidency is to declare that These National programs must now mark the route to abandon fossil fuels and choose renewables.
“We will make a decision here in Dubai to phase out all fossil fuels by the middle of the century, with steps starting now. If we do this, the United Arab Emirates and COP28 will be crowned as a nation and people which eases climate wars, avoids disasters and saves countless lives,” said Shady Khalil, a member of the Greenpeace organization in the Middle East area, this Sunday. .and North Africa,
But the summit is a multi-track circus. The center is balance, but there are other texts where adaptation is discussed (that is, how countries can anticipate the negative effects of climate change). Nothing significant is expected to come out of this summit in this area, but according to negotiators from many countries, Saudi Arabia maintains a blocking attitude that, they suspect, it will be used as a bargaining chip in the negotiation of the talks on fossil fuels.
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