Cop28 live: ‘failure is not an option,’ says summit president | Cop28 – Freedom Voice


‘Failure is not an option’ – Al Jaber

Fiona Harvey

Fiona Harvey

Sultan Al Jaber, president of Cop28, made a last-ditch call for all countries to come together this afternoon in Dubai, to find common ground amid deep disagreements over the future of climate action.

Everyone would be listened to, he said, emphasising as he has done from the start that this must be an inclusive process. “Everyone’s experience and national circumstances have merit and will be taken in consideration. We will not ignore anyone. As I’ve said many times, we will not neglect any issue, we will not neglect or undermine or underestimate any of the views or the national circumstances of any region or any country. And I promise that they will all be heard,” he said.

That chimes with what we have been hearing from developing countries at this Cop, who have praised the presidency for listening to them.

COP28 President Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber speaks to journalists during the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Dubai, UAE, 10 December 2023.
COP28 President Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber speaks to journalists during the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Dubai, UAE, 10 December 2023. Photograph: Martin Divíšek/EPA

Many are still unhappy that adaptation, a key issue for them as they grapple with the disastrous impacts of the climate crisis, has not been given enough attention. They find the existing text on adaptation too weak.

The question of the phase out or phase down of fossil fuels is also still unresolved. Al Jaber called on countries to “switch gears” to find compromises.

He looked back to the “very successful” start of the talks, when an agreement on a fund for loss and damage in poor and vulnerable countries was reached on the first day. “I’ve called on everyone to maintain that spirit of positivity, openness, tolerance, acceptance, motivation, delivery, action. This is the same spirit we need to double down on at this point in time. And I want everyone to remember that we have a unique opportunity, it is our opportunity to deliver an outcome that is based on the science lead by the science and equipped by the science that keeps 1.5 within reach. And that will help transform economies for generations to come,” he said.

“The time has come for all parties to constructively engage, I want everyone to show flexibility,” he insisted.

This was the first Cop presidency to address fossil fuels, he reminded journalists at a brief media appearance outside the negotiating halls on Sunday afternoon, with the talks scheduled to end at 11am on Tuesday. The presidency has promised a new text on Monday morning, and is convening all parties ahead of that to hammer out a compromise on key issues such as the phase out or phase down of fossil fuels.

“None of this is a surprise,” he told journalists. ”This is exactly how this particular process works. Ultimately, it all boils down to the need for all parties to come to terms with the fact that we will deliver the highest ambition and to do that we need to be more flexible and we need to accept to compromise and that all parties should come to terms with these facts. I am confident we can work through these issues.”

But he also warned that though compromise would be necessary, it could not mean a watering down of ambition. “Failure, or lack of progress, or watering down ambition is not an option. I have clearly communicated many, many, many times in the past. And I did it yesterday, and I will do it again today. Failure is not an option. What we’re after is the common good. What we’re after, is in the best interest of everyone, everywhere. And what I’m going to stay laser focused on is the science and keeping 1.5C alive.”

And he looked forward to a deal, with an optimism that few previous Cop presidents have ever shown at this stage of proceedings. “I need everyone to do their part to get us to the finish line and celebrate the highest ever ambition.”

Key events

Natalie Jones, a climate policy adviser at the International Institute for Sustainable Development, has posted a useful thread on both the “theatre” of the climate talks and the latest twists and turns in the negotiations.

She notes that the ministers shepherding the global stock take and discussions on phasing out fossil fuels had “nothing substantive to say about the energy package” when they had a chance to report back last night beyond there being a divergence of views on whether fossil fuels should be phased out or phased down.

Fascinatingly, Jones also described how this stage of the talks works. They are organised as “majlis”, which is a very small circle of ministers and heads of delegation with Cop28 president Al Jaber at the centre.

It is open to observers, which is remarkable. Jones provides many juicy details, including an impressive intervention by Colombia that brings 2030 into the discussion. A welcome change from the tactic of other countries to push everything back to 2050.

Based on her nine years as a COP watcher, Jones expects the talks to run past Tuesday’s nominal final day, and extend well into Wednesday and possibly Thursday. There goes my plans for the week.

I highly recommend the entire thread.

So. The Ministers & HoD are all gathered here.

Theý’re here to talk about the entire COP deal.

Not just fossil fuel phase out. Not just the energy package. Not just the global stocktake. The whole thing.

That includes adaptation, finance/means of implementation…..

— Dr Natalie Jones at COP28 (@nataliejon_es) December 10, 2023

Patrick Greenfield

Patrick Greenfield

Argentina’s new far right president elect, Javier Milei, will be inaugurated in Buenos Aires later today, ushering in an uncertain future for the environment in the South American country.

The chainsaw-wielding economist is a climate change denier and the country’s environment ministry is among those that will cease to exist from today once Milei is in the Casa Rosada.

Supporters of Argentina’s President-elect Javier Milei pose for a picture as they gather outside the Congress before his inauguration ceremony in Buenos Aires.
Supporters of Argentina’s President-elect Javier Milei pose for a picture as they gather outside the Congress before his inauguration ceremony in Buenos Aires. Photograph: Luis Robayo/AFP/Getty Images

The Guardian understands a representative from his government is on their way to Dubai for Cop28. Instead of having an environment minister, Milei has allocated responsibility for the environment to his tourism minister, who will also oversee sport, according to Argentine media.

From swathes of the Chaco dry forest – South America’s second largest – to the disappearing glaciers of the Andes, Argentina is home to numerous environmental wonders. My colleague Sylvia Colombo reports, they and Argentina’s indigenous communities face growing threats under new leadership.

‘Failure is not an option’ – Al Jaber

Fiona Harvey

Fiona Harvey

Sultan Al Jaber, president of Cop28, made a last-ditch call for all countries to come together this afternoon in Dubai, to find common ground amid deep disagreements over the future of climate action.

Everyone would be listened to, he said, emphasising as he has done from the start that this must be an inclusive process. “Everyone’s experience and national circumstances have merit and will be taken in consideration. We will not ignore anyone. As I’ve said many times, we will not neglect any issue, we will not neglect or undermine or underestimate any of the views or the national circumstances of any region or any country. And I promise that they will all be heard,” he said.

That chimes with what we have been hearing from developing countries at this Cop, who have praised the presidency for listening to them.

COP28 President Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber speaks to journalists during the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Dubai, UAE, 10 December 2023.
COP28 President Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber speaks to journalists during the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Dubai, UAE, 10 December 2023. Photograph: Martin Divíšek/EPA

Many are still unhappy that adaptation, a key issue for them as they grapple with the disastrous impacts of the climate crisis, has not been given enough attention. They find the existing text on adaptation too weak.

The question of the phase out or phase down of fossil fuels is also still unresolved. Al Jaber called on countries to “switch gears” to find compromises.

He looked back to the “very successful” start of the talks, when an agreement on a fund for loss and damage in poor and vulnerable countries was reached on the first day. “I’ve called on everyone to maintain that spirit of positivity, openness, tolerance, acceptance, motivation, delivery, action. This is the same spirit we need to double down on at this point in time. And I want everyone to remember that we have a unique opportunity, it is our opportunity to deliver an outcome that is based on the science lead by the science and equipped by the science that keeps 1.5 within reach. And that will help transform economies for generations to come,” he said.

“The time has come for all parties to constructively engage, I want everyone to show flexibility,” he insisted.

This was the first Cop presidency to address fossil fuels, he reminded journalists at a brief media appearance outside the negotiating halls on Sunday afternoon, with the talks scheduled to end at 11am on Tuesday. The presidency has promised a new text on Monday morning, and is convening all parties ahead of that to hammer out a compromise on key issues such as the phase out or phase down of fossil fuels.

“None of this is a surprise,” he told journalists. ”This is exactly how this particular process works. Ultimately, it all boils down to the need for all parties to come to terms with the fact that we will deliver the highest ambition and to do that we need to be more flexible and we need to accept to compromise and that all parties should come to terms with these facts. I am confident we can work through these issues.”

But he also warned that though compromise would be necessary, it could not mean a watering down of ambition. “Failure, or lack of progress, or watering down ambition is not an option. I have clearly communicated many, many, many times in the past. And I did it yesterday, and I will do it again today. Failure is not an option. What we’re after is the common good. What we’re after, is in the best interest of everyone, everywhere. And what I’m going to stay laser focused on is the science and keeping 1.5C alive.”

And he looked forward to a deal, with an optimism that few previous Cop presidents have ever shown at this stage of proceedings. “I need everyone to do their part to get us to the finish line and celebrate the highest ever ambition.”

Is it too early to start thinking about the next COP, which will take place in Azerbaijan?

The hosting decision, announced yesterday, will mean the climate summit has been hosted by three of the world’s top 40 petrostates in a row, according to the definition provided by Carbon Tracker.

Azerbaijan is also involved in a conflict funded by fossil fuels as The Guardian’s energy correspondent Jillian Ambrose reported in an exclusive last month.

The United Nations works in mysterious ways, but surely there was a safer pair of hands for the world’s fragile climate.

https://amp.theguardian.com/business/2023/nov/08/bp-projects-have-helped-fund-azerbaijan-military-aggession-say-campaigners

Damian Carrington

Damian Carrington

Cop28 using an out-of-date number for global heating, warn scientists

The Cop28 negotiating text is using an out-of-date number of 1.1°Celsius for the global heating caused by humanity to date. The true figure is about 1.3C, according to Richard Betts at the UK Met Office.

That matters, he told The Guardian: “It’s important because it shows we’re actually closer to 1.5C. So the urgency is even greater, both for reducing emissions and also for adaptation as well.” The 1.5C is the limit in the Paris Agreement, set to avoid the worst impacts of the climate crisis.

The 1.1C figure for the temperature rise caused by global heating is from the most recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. But it is the average for the period from 2011 to 2020, meaning it effectively represents 2015.

But emissions and global heating have continued to surge since 2020. A new analysis by Betts and colleagues finds the human-caused temperature rise today is 1.3C.

This assessment is based on the average across 20 years: the decade up to 2023 and the projected future temperatures to 2032. That 20–year method is in fact consistent with the way the IPCC already deals with future temperatures, Betts said.

Global food production ‘problematic’ even at 1.5C, warns US envoy

Fiona Harvey

Fiona Harvey

Farming and food production around the world will suffer severe impacts from the climate crisis even if the world does manage to hold global temperature rises to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, the US special envoy for global food security, Cary Fowler, told the Guardian at Cop28.

“Agriculture will have significant problems at 1.5C, it’s going to be even more problematic than today,” he warned. “The worst years climatically for agriculture in the past will be the best years for agriculture in the future. That is pretty sobering. We have to do everything we can to reduce global warming.”

Temperature rises will affect all aspects of food production, he warned. “Heat affects all aspects of a plant’s growth cycle,” he warned, from germination to ripening, and the timing of the plant’s development.

Farmers harvest peanut at Bani Hara agricultural field in district of El-Haouaria in Tunisia.
Farmers harvest peanut at Bani Hara agricultural field in district of El-Haouaria in Tunisia. Photograph: Anadolu/Getty Images

He said more research was needed into how to make food crops more resilient to extreme weather. “In many countries, we’ve had stagnation in agricultural research and development,” he said. “If you look back, we have counted on incremental increases in agricultural productivity, but we can’t do that now.”

He said agricultural productivity had been declining in some areas of Africa, and globally was increasing by about 1.14% a year, when it needed to increase by about 1.91% a year to meet the world’s food needs by 2050.

Fowler is also particularly concerned about poor diets. In parts of Africa, childhood stunting impacts about a third of children, which is storing up massive problems for their future mental development and the fate of those countries. The key to preventing childhood stunting is diversity in the diet – this is not just a question of getting more calories to children, but in getting different sorts of foodstuffs, such as a variety of fruits and vegetables as well as starchy staples, into their diets.

“This is somewhere we really need to make a difference,” he said.

Emissions trading could become ‘black box’, experts warn

Patrick Greenfield

Patrick Greenfield

Proposals on country-to-country emissions trading could become a “black box” that undermines the integrity of the Paris agreement, experts have warned.

Alongside language on fossil fuels and climate adaptation, governments are negotiating the rules for the carbon market that underpins the Paris agreement in Dubai.

Once operational, large polluters like the UK and Saudi Arabia will be able to purchase carbon credits from states with major carbon sinks such as Brazil and Indonesia to meet their own national contributions towards limiting global heating. But there are concerns that if countries agree on weak rules, worthless credits could be generated by the system – undermining efforts to tackle the climate crisis.

New text on country-to-country emissions trading was published on Saturday evening, covered by Article 6.2 of the Paris agreement. It no longer includes rules or guidance on confidentiality of carbon deals, meaning that governments would never have to make public details of the agreement, provoking widespread concern.

Erika Lennon, senior attorney with the Center for International Environmental Law, said: “Even after a year of scandals exposing widespread failure and fraud in the carbon market, negotiators seem not to have learned any lessons. The latest proposals for carbon trading under discussion lack any meaningful oversight and transparency. Accepting them would be a win for carbon cowboys and a massive loss for people and the planet.”

Gilles Dufrasne, policy lead with Carbon Market Watch, said: “Article 6.2 is about to become a black box. To shine a light on carbon trades, we need at least to have clear limits on confidentiality provisions, real consequences for countries that don’t play by the rules and guardrails against countries that want to backtrack on the activities they have authorised. The current text doesn’t include any of that.”

Climate Policy Analyst Catalina Gonda said: “The decisions made by countries at COP28 regarding the rules for carbon markets will have direct and substantial consequences for both the climate and communities on the ground. The eagerness to implement Article 6.2 should not come at the cost of compromising on robust rules. The text we have today undermines the Paris Agreement, and jeopardizes transparency and accountability”.

Joab Okanda, Senior Climate Adviser at Christian Aid in Kenya, was similarly scathing: “A blank sheet of paper would be as effective as the UNFCCC carbon market rules as they stand. It’s an insult to the people in parts of Africa that are facing the very real threat of losing their homes and access to their land. If the negotiations end like this, the carbon colonialists will come knocking, and being able to do anything about it will become incredibly difficult.”

UK food tsar: ‘Stand up to the big food companies’

Fiona Harvey

Fiona Harvey

Henry Dimbleby, UK food tsar, is at Cop28 to talk about global food systems. He told us governments would need to step up, and stand up to the big food companies. “In the end, what you need is regulation.” He said food had been largely ignored at previous Cops, including Cop26 in Glasgow in 2021, so it was good to see the issue highlighted in Dubai, but governments were still long on talk and short on action. “We need to look at this globally, at how we share resources such as land and how to create incentives to shape a food system that feeds the world, sequesters carbon and restores biodiversity.”

Henry Dimbleby, UK food tsar, who attended Cop28 to talk about global food systems.
Henry Dimbleby, UK food tsar, who attended Cop28 to talk about global food systems. Photograph: Fiona Harvey

Human Rights Day unease at restrictions on protest

My colleague Nina Lakhani reports civil society groups have been extremely frustrated at the restrictions placed on public protest at Cop28 particularly in relation to calling out human rights violations in the UAE and Palestine. Still, every day, frontline activists have done small actions calling for a cease fire in Gaza. “There is no climate justice without human rights,” has been the rallying call. Today the protest is also calling for the release of human rights and environmental defenders across the world including British Egyptian campaigner Alaa Abd el-Fattah who is imprisoned in Egypt.

United Nations Climate Change Conference COP28 in DubaiClimate activists protest during the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP28 in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, 10 December 2023.
United Nations Climate Change Conference COP28 in Dubai
Climate activists protest during the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP28 in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, 10 December 2023.
Photograph: Amr Alfiky/Reuters

Others noted that today is the 75th anniversary of the universal declaration human rights. Asad Rehman, director of War on Want, said: “Our struggle for human rights is connected to all movements and struggles for economic justice, for social justice and gender justice. Our message to the people negotiating is that we have a different vision of the world because we believe in the power of the people to transform this society into one that is fair and just.”

Earlier, the climate campaign group 350.0rg disrupted the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) at their youth event at Cop28. In a statement, the group urged organisers to include vulnerable communities and campaigners in the discussion on how to address global heating. “Civil society and communities most impacted by the climate crisis must be at the forefront of conversations in spaces like Cop28 and it’s imperative we have the freedom to publicly critique government policy, protest and lobby for climate justice.”

Vulnerable countries concerned about ‘weak’ adaptation text

Damian Carrington

Damian Carrington

Delegates from vulnerable countries are very concerned about the weak progress being made at Cop28 on adaptation i.e. the plans and funding desperately needed to protect people from the escalating impacts of the climate crisis. The UN Environment Programme said in November that $215bn – $387bn a year is needed – in 2021, but just $21bn was provided. (See also earlier posts today from Nina Lakhani and a guest post from Mohamed Adow.)

Sandeep Chamling Rai, at WWF: “Vulnerable communities desperately need more finance to build resilience to the impacts of the climate crisis. However the text only reiterates the longstanding call for developed countries to double adaptation finance without providing a clear roadmap to deliver it.”

“The text is also missing concrete global targets. It is also concerning to see the target to protect 30% of land by 2030 now missing. Nature is an ally in limiting the impacts of the climate crisis and that must be recognised and acted on.”

Obed Koringo, based in Nairobi for CARE Denmark: “It is disappointing to see that negotiations on adaptation are hurtling towards a damaging global failure. We are afraid that it will have catastrophic consequences for communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis, especially in Africa.”

“Developed countries have committed to at least double adaptation finance by 2025 – a detailed roadmap is the only way to achieve this. This must set out what individual developed countries plan to provide by 2025 and how this adds up to $40 billion annually.

“Failure to invest in adaptation, including early warning systems, flood defences and drought-resistant crops, will only increase the costs of loss and damage in the long run.”

Simon Evans, at Carbon Brief, has tweeted details of the latest draft text:

#COP28 text on global goal on adaptation

➡️no brackets + only 3 options, on principles
➡️it’s very heavily qualitative, not quantitative
➡️only vague link to finance
➡️only governance targets are quantitative
➡️starts 2yr work prog on progress indicatorshttps://t.co/NtOc6QPYfw pic.twitter.com/wQ4MygGJiE

— Simon Evans (@DrSimEvans) December 10, 2023

Cop28 president: ‘The time has come for us to switch gears’

The Cop28 president Al Jaber is speaking in a media scrum that includes my colleague Fiona Harvey. She says he is calling for consensus on two key issues: fossil fuels and financing for a just transition.

“The time has come for us to switch gears,” Al Jaber said. “We need text agreed by everyone on greenhouse gases. That is a point I will keep pressure on …. None of this is surprise. That is how this process works. It boils down to the need for all parties to come to terms (with the fact) that we will deliver the highest ambition. All parties should come to terms with this fact.”

Hello everyone. This is Jonathan Watts taking over the liveblog from my colleague Natalie Hanman.

With just over two days remaining of the official schedule, Cop28 is now immersed in the nitty gritty of the negotiations. This is the part that will determine whether Dubai is a success or a failure. There is a lot of work to do. The texts are riddled with brackets denoting disagreements and unresolved alternatives, including on the crunch question of whether to phase out, phase down or otherwise come to terms with the root cause of climate breakdown: fossil fuels.

Thirty one years after the Earth Summit that launched these discussions, isn’t it astounding that it has taken until now to get to this fundamental issue?

Feel free to email me at jon.watts@theguardian.com with comments and suggestions on this or anything else.

Thank you for reading the liveblog. I am now handing over to Jonathan Watts (jonathan.watts@theguardian.com). Here’s a brief summary of developments so far today:

The Cop Presidency is now said to be preparing a final package for delegates, at a crunch point for Cop28, with only two and a half official days of negotiations left.

A draft text on the global goal on adaptation was published. It has been described as “disappointing” and “weak”.

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation published the first instalment in its roadmap on reforming food and farming. Thin on detail, the report is not enough to get us off the “high-pollution, high-fossil-fuel, high-hunger track we are on”, said one expert.

A spokesperson from the bloc of Like Minded Developing Countries told the Guardian that any fossil fuel phase out target must be fully financed and centred on the equity principles enshrined in the climate convention and the 2015 Paris agreement.

Damian Carrington

Damian Carrington

Close up of a cow's head, outdoors
Reforming the world’s food systems will be a key step in limiting global temperature rises, the UN said on Sunday. Photograph: Jonathan Kirn/Getty Images

Reaction is coming in to the UN FAO’s first instalment of a roadmap towards farming that can feed the world while not driving global heating past 1.5C. You can read Fiona Harvey’s news story on the road map here.

Craig Hanson, Managing Director of Programs, World Resources Institute:

“How to feed the planet by 2050 without destroying it in the process is one of the grand challenges of our time. This roadmap is a welcome reminder that the answer involves sustainably boosting crop and livestock yields, reducing food loss and waste and shifting diets – all amidst a changing climate.”

“Rich countries will need to nudge people toward less meat-centric diets, and advance technologies and practices to drive down agricultural emissions. Low-income countries will need to sustainably boost crop and livestock productivity. Smallholder farmers will need far more assistance to adapt to extreme weather. And all these changes will need to happen without further sacrificing forests for agriculture.”

Emile Frison, member of the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems:

“Laying out a plan to eliminate extreme hunger and the third of greenhouse gas emissions from food systems is not an easy task. This roadmap puts a huge emphasis on incremental improvements to the current industrial food system – but this is a flawed system that is wrecking nature, polluting the environment, and starving millions of people. These efficiency-first proposals are unlikely to be enough. The next stage will need to go much further in … tackling the massive power inequalities imposed by the handful of companies that define what we grow and eat.”

Sophia Murphy, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy:

“FAO’s roadmap offers a welcome focus on the right to food in the cacophony of food interests that have descended on COP. The report mentions a host of critical issues, including farm income, farm worker rights and women’s empowerment. Disappointingly, the report neglects to call on big agricultural companies to make real emissions reductions, especially in rich countries where cutting methane and nitrous oxide emissions from industrial animal operations is a low-hanging fruit.”

Appolinaire Djikeng, International Livestock Research Institute:

“The (FAO) strategy makes valuable and pragmatic recommendations for increasing climate finance to help improve the productivity of livestock systems in low-income countries. This would strengthen a sector that provides vital and scarce sources of high quality nutrition and rural livelihoods for almost two billion people. A new African narrative for livestock is needed to fully differentiate the needs and challenges facing small-scale producers from the industrialised systems in the Global North.”

Developing countries bloc say fossil fuel phaseout must be fully financed and fair

Nina Lakhani

A spokesperson from a negotiating bloc that represents more than half the world’s populationsaid that any fossil fuel phase-out target must be fully financed and centred on the equity principles enshrined in the climate convention and the 2015 Paris agreement.

“As a group we want to see the developed countries taking the lead on mitigation. In each session they are pushing and pressuring developing countries to do more and more, without providing the means of implementation, without accepting that a phase out has to be differentiated to be fair and equitable – and while they are still expanding fossil fuel production,” said Diego Pacheco, a Bolivian negotiator and spokesperson for the bloc of Like Minded Developing Countries (LMDC).

The bloc of 20 nations – which includes India, China, Saudi Arabia, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Syria, Sudan and Vietnam – are politically, socially and economically diverse but like minded in terms of insisting that international climate action respect the convention and the Paris Agreement, particularly in relation to the principle of equity and Common But Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR) enshrined in the Paris agreement and the UNFCCC.

Developing countries have for years called out wealthier countries for cherrypicking from the convention, Paris Agreement and the IPCC reports. According to Pacheco, global emission reduction targets should take into account CBDR and equity, but developing countries face a constant fight to get these core elements into the text. “The Paris agreement is based on a bottom-up approach, so each country will address issues according to their own national circumstances. The only acceptable qualifier would be a fossil fuel phase out financed by developed countries, based on equity and CBDR,” said Pacheco.

In 2021, India and China were blamed by the US, UK and other developed countries for watering down the historic agreement to phase down – rather than phase out – coal at Cop26. The UK and US have already moved away from coal, but continue to expand oil and gas production.

India, the world’s most populous country (1.4bn) and the fifth largest economy, is the driver behind equitable access to carbon space, pushing for historic CO2 contributions to be taken into account in any discussion about phase out and mitigation.

Meena Raman, a climate policy expert and head of programmes at the Third World Network (TWN), said: “Many countries including India are energy poor, and while they are actively promoting solar and other renewable energies, they need more time and finance to transition away from coal, that is the reality. We need to be honest about what countries need to implement mitigation – finance, capacity building, technology – so they can achieve their NDCs and keep the hope of 1.5 alive, adapt to climate change and still meet the basic needs of their people. Otherwise any new target will just be playing to the gallery.”

The US is this year’s number one producer of oil and gas, and the number one exporter of gas and petroleum products. A recent report by Oil Change International found that five countries – UK, US, Norway, Canada and Australia – account for more than half the planned oil and gas expansion between now and 2050.

Meanwhile civil society groups are warning that the US, UK and other allied developed economies appear to be embracing fossil fuel phase out language, while simultaneously blocking fair climate finance and pushing to erase any reference to equity and just transition from the final text. Rachel Rose Jackson from Corporate Accountability said:

“The stage is set for the US to save the day again while blaming global south countries simply for demanding equity and fairness. At Cop28 the US is continuing its legacy of hocus pocus.”

Oliver Milman

Oliver Milman

People walk near al Wasl Dome in Dubai.
People walk near al Wasl Dome in Dubai. Photograph: Ali Haider/EPA

Machines to magic carbon out of the air, artificial intelligence, indoor vertical farms to grow food for our escape to Mars, and even solar-powered “responsible” yachts: the Cop28 climate summit in Dubai has been festooned with the promise of technological fixes for worsening global heating and ecological breakdown, writes Oliver Milman.

But this fixation has alarmed some scientists and climate activists, who warn that technologies are being used to distract from the primary task of stopping fossil fuels being burned.

Total current technology-based CO2 removal, excluding nature-based means such as planting new forests, removes just 0.01m tonnes of CO2, according to recent research, which is more than a million times smaller than current fossil fuel CO2 emissions.

Despite its small scale, voluminous carbon removal techniques are relied upon in many climate models and plans by countries and companies to avoid breaching a 1.5C rise in global temperatures since pre-industrial times and unleashing catastrophic heatwaves, droughts, floods and other impacts.

Read the full story here.

Patrick Greenfield

Patrick Greenfield

Colombia’s environment minister Susana Muhamad has said she is helping to build a coalition of countries in favour of ambitious language on phasing out fossil fuels at Cop28 ahead of tense final negotiations.

Muhamad, whose president Gustavo Petro announced Colombia was backing a fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty in the climate summit, said the group would then speak with Saudi Arabia, India and other influential countries as a bloc.

“We want a phase out of production and consumption. We want 1.5C. We want a 43% reduction (of fossil fuels) by 2030. If we don’t reach 2030, there is not another opportunity to do this,” she told the Guardian. “We should not be hostage to the economic plans of countries when this is the requirement. “

Muhamad has been a leading voice at the climate summit in plenaries calling for strong language on cutting emissions.

El compromiso para alcanzar las metas del Acuerdo de París, debe ser de todas las naciones. Para lograrlo debemos avanzar en la reducción progresiva de los combustibles fósiles y mirar un nuevo modelo económico.
Esta fue mi intervención en la Plenaria Oficial de la #COP28. pic.twitter.com/8o4hc33b0z

— Susana Muhamad (@susanamuhamad) December 8, 2023

“We are working on building a consolidated position and common thinking around these issues so we have a stronger voice. We’re trying to align a bloc of countries to land some text around (fossil fuels) that we can then use to start engaging with China, Saudi Arabia and India in the potential negotiations,” she said.

“Adaptation is the most important thing for us. Some countries are putting a lot of obstacles into this so that they can negotiate on the other parts of the agreement. For us, adaptation goals have to be agreed at this Cop. Otherwise it’s a message that the lives of people in the Global South don’t matter. We are already in the process of adaptation. The climate is already changing. That’s why 1.5C is critical. After 1.5C, adaptation will be super expensive or impossible,” said Muhamad.

“The Sultan is being very clear that he wants 1.5C to be alive and on a 2030 delivery. So, it’s obvious we need to talk about fossil fuels. I think we can get an agreement. We have to make future arrangements for a future phasing out,” she said.

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