COP 28 this year will be held from the 30th of November to the 12th of December in the United Arab Emirates. Controversy over UAE’s decision to host is due to its position as one of the world’s top 10 oil-producing nations. The UN’s former climate chief, Christian Figueres, has voiced her concern on the neutrality of UAE, stating:
“When you are the president of the Cop, you cannot put forward the position of the country that you’re coming from. You have to be able to be neutral.”
The appointment of Al Jaber as president of COP 28 UAE sparked anger amongst campaigners due to his role as a chief executive of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company. Mr Al Jaber’s oil company plans to expand production- doubling output to five million barrels per day by 2027. A spokesman for UAE said that ‘to deliver a just energy transition, a deep understanding of energy systems is essential’, suggesting ‘his experience uniquely positions him to be able to convene both the public and private sector’.
Furthermore, on the COP 28 website, information on the UAE’s track record of climate action states that the UAE was the first country in the Middle East region to ratify the Paris Agreement and the first to announce a net zero by 2050 initiative.
The UN has said that COP 28 will be a milestone moment when the world will take stock of its progress on the Paris Agreement. This will involve identifying the global mitigation gaps and helping stakeholders/policymakers to strengthen their climate policies and commitments.
The thematic schedule of COP 28 centres around cross-cutting themes of technology and innovation, inclusion, frontline communities, and finance. Within this, there is a focus on health/relief, gender equality, accountability, indigenous peoples, transport, youth, education, agriculture, and many more. The presidency has set out a plan of action that focuses on four areas:
Fast-track the energy– reducing greenhouse emissions and moving to clean energy sources
Fix climate finance– working on a new deal for developing economies
Focus on nature, people, lives and livelihoods
Full inclusivity– bringing together youth, entrepreneurs, gender groups, and indigenous peoples.
Following Cop 27, a ‘loss and damage’ fund was agreed upon- however, the workings of this are still unclear and will likely be a sticking point at Cop 28. Another main point will be the use of fossil fuels in the future.
Al Jaber has called for a ‘phase-down’ of fossil fuel production, which will disappoint campaigners and the countries who want a complete phasing out of fossil fuels. In a speech at the Petersberg Climate Dialogue 6 months ago, Al Jaber said:
“We must be laser-focused on phasing out fossil fuel emissions, while phasing up viable, affordable zero-carbon alternatives.”
Christian Figueres saw this as ‘very dangerous’ in promoting carbon capture and storage technology as opposed to completely phasing out fossil fuels as ‘we do not have CCS commercially available and viable over the next five to seven years’.
The distinction between ‘phasing-down’ and ‘phasing-out’ has been a significant point for criticism.
Despite criticism of Al Jaber’s links with oil, Bob Ward, policy director at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at the London School of Economics, maintains his view that ‘a recognition of the need for oil companies to be part of the solution’ shows ‘detailed ambitions for progress’.
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