COP28: Small Achievements in Dubai

By Iván Restrepo on December 12, 2023

The COP28 in Dubai has concluded. At the beginning of this meeting, in which the international community, experts, environmentalists and companies linked to hydrocarbons participate, António Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations, was very clear: “We cannot save a burning planet with a hose of fossil fuels”. That is why it is urgent to “disengage” from them, to phase them out, not just reduce them, if we really want to avoid global warming. And he added that “the 1.5 degrees Celsius limit agreed at the Paris Summit is only possible if we stop burning all fossil fuels”. And if every country establishes and complies with policies for a fair and equitable transition to renewable energy.

The 1.5 degree limit is virtually a dead letter, as this year has been the hottest of the millennium and the imbalances of all kinds that this causes are being felt everywhere. In Mexico, with severe damage to the agricultural sector, extreme drought, lack of drinking water in the main cities due to the depletion of the main storage systems, such as the Cutzamala; overexploitation of groundwater and devastating hurricanes.

António Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations at COP28

In contrast to what Guterres said, the president of the COP28, Sultan Ahmed al-Jaber, stated that there was no scientific evidence that by progressively reducing the use of fossil fuels, the goal of not exceeding the 1.5 degree Celsius increase established in Paris would be achieved. Although he later qualified his statement, it was clear that the leader of an oil power not only contradicted the opinion of the most prestigious scientists on the issue of climate change, but also revealed what other leaders of the region think, where oil and gas are the basic elements of their economy and of their international power and influence. Sultan Ahmed al Jaber is UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and head of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company.

And another proof of the opinion of the leaders of the Arab oil world is the letter from the Secretary General of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Haitham Al Ghais, to the members of the cartel. In it, he asks them to reject any agreement at the climate summit that goes against fossil fuels. Al Ghais argues that “undue and disproportionate pressure against fossil fuels may reach a tipping point with irreversible consequences”.

Small successes in Dubai. For example, representatives of the nearly 200 participating countries agreed to establish a new fund to alleviate damage to nations most vulnerable to natural disasters, such as storms and droughts. But contributions are voluntary. And the contributions announced there are insufficient (some one billion dollars) when the costs of the ravages of climate change on the planet total close to 400 billion dollars. Another achievement: the promise of the United States to curb methane emissions produced by oil and gas. But will it deliver? In the past, it did not. From China and Russia, silence.

The final agreements of the summit will be known tomorrow. But what is already known is the power of the oil-producing countries and the big consumers: they do not want anything fundamental to stop the intensive use of hydrocarbons and coal.

Everything pointed to the next summit being held in Yerevan, capital of Armenia. It will take place in Azerbaijan, a country with large reserves of oil, gas and minerals required by the European Union. This “voluntary cession” will achieve the exchange of prisoners, normalization of relations between the two nations and a peace based on “respect for the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity”.

In reality, the dispossession of the Nagorno-Karabakh region, historically part of the Armenian nation, was thus validated. It was invaded by the Azerbaijani army last September. Eighty-three percent of its 120,000 inhabitants fled in a painful exodus towards Armenian territory. This country suffered between 1915 and 1923 at the hands of Turkey, the first genocide in modern history, with 2 million victims.

And Mexico? At a snail’s pace on the road to renewable energies.

Source: La Jornada, translation Resumen Latinoamericano – English