Cop28 only solidified reliance on fossil fuels

The Cop28 climate conference, which stuttered to a close on 12 December, was a desperate cover-up of inaction in the face of catastrophic environmental degradation. 

The stark reality is that since the climate negotiations began in 1992, more carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels has been released worldwide than in all preceding human history. And 2023 was set for a new emissions record.

Among the more than 80,000 government and business delegates at Cop in Dubai, there were at least 2,456 openly-declared fossil fuel lobbyists.

The draft final agreement dropped references to the phaseout of fossil fuels after opposition from oil and gas-producing countries led by Saudi Arabia.

The US, the European Union and others wanted a call for an eventual end to “unabated” fossil fuel use.

This kind of phrasing allows leaders to continue to squeeze their competitors while being woolly about when they should stop using fossil fuels. 

With this they signalled to top polluters that they can keep doing what they like for as long as they like. Saudi Arabia and Russia demanded the conference focus only on reducing climate pollution and not on targeting fossil fuels. 

And the smaller more vulnerable nations were left begging for at least some halt to a process that is threatening humanity. 

 A United Nations Environment Programme report, released just before the conference, warned the world is on track for a “hellish” 3 degrees Celsius of global heating above pre-industrial levels.

It said present carbon-cutting policies are so inadequate that the 3 degrees of heating would be reached this century. 

Temperature records have already been obliterated in 2023, leading to intensifying heatwaves, floods and droughts. Thousands of people, mobilised by Extinction Rebellion (XR) and others, demonstrated on 9 December in Britain over climate inaction. Many of those taking part in the 36 separate actions then moved to join protests for Palestine.

In some areas people staged protests outside local branches of Barclays and HSBC to spotlight the billions that banks continue to funnel into fossil fuel projects. 

XR said, “Five years ago, we were told our warnings about the escalation of the climate and ecological emergency were hysterical, exaggerated and scientifically unfounded. It’s now clear that we were right to sound the alarm.”

Just Stop Oil said, “The only outcome from Cop28 that would get massive media attention would be a firm agreement to phase out (not phase down) our use of fossil fuels within a fixed period of time. The chances of that are close to zero.”

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