In reaction to today’s announcement about the historic establishment of the United Nation’s loss and damage fund, David Tong, Global Industry Campaign Manager, Oil Change International, said:
“Unprecedented, countries finalized the creation of a fund to compensate countries for loss and damage caused by the climate crisis on the first day of the UN Climate Change Conference.
“So far, governments’ contributions to the loss and damage fund are dwarfed by their approximately USD 200 billion in planned subsidies for carbon capture and storage (CCS). Subsidies for CCS are subsidies for fossil fuels, because most captured carbon is used to produce more oil and gas. Instead of paying their fair share to clean up their mess, rich polluting countries are offering a lifeline to the fossil fuel industry in the form of billions in handouts for CCS, fueling more loss and damage.
“For this COP to be a success, the negotiators must focus on securing an agreement to massively scale up renewable energy, end all new fossil fuel expansion, and commit to a fast, fair, full, and funded phase out of all fossil fuels”
As the COP28 climate talks begin today in Dubai, the Green Party has set out three key demands. They are to ‘keep 1.5 alive’; an agreement on the fair and managed phase-out of all fossil fuels; and measures to address ‘climate inequality.’ Greens are challenging the UK government to lead by example and put into practice policies that will help meet these demands.
Co-leader of the Green Party, Carla Denyer, said:
“We need to hear a clear unambiguous commitment from the UK government to the 1.5C Paris Agreement target which was signed up to by 196 countries eight years ago at COP21. The government must agree to whatever it takes to get this target back on track. It’s going to require a hugely ambitious strategy, but the massive scaling up of climate action that is now necessary is because of dither and delay by countries like the UK in taking the bold action needed.
“Another vital outcome of COP28 must be the fair and managed phase-out of all fossil fuels. As one of the rich countries most responsible for the climate crisis, the UK must stand on the side of future generations and those on the front line of climate breakdown and agree to urgently move away from fossil fuels. The UK government must resist pressure from the petrostates and others at COP who wish to continue with business as usual and keep the world hooked on fossil fuels. At home this means leading by example with an immediate end to all new oil and gas licences and a rapid acceleration towards renewable energy.
“Thirdly, these climate talks must recognise that it is a super-rich elite who are super-heating the planet. The UK government must be willing to challenge the grotesque inequality driving climate breakdown and reform our tax system to make the polluter pay. This means taxing the wealth of the super-rich and introducing a carbon tax on the most polluting corporations and individuals. Such taxes, introduced globally, could generate the funds needed for a generous new Loss and Damage Fund to finance climate action in the poorest countries – those suffering the most from the impacts of climate breakdown but contributing the least to the crisis.”
Days before the latest climate summit is due to begin in Dubai, the first flight powered entirely by “sustainable aviation fuel” landed safely in New York.
The twin engines of this Boeing 787 Dreamliner ran on farm waste and used cooking oil, an alternative to the kerosene that is usually dug up, refined and burned to satisfy the wanderlust of a relatively wealthy minority of Earth’s people.
Sadly, the entire event was a stunt, say political economists Gareth Dale (Brunel University London) and Josh Moos (Leeds Beckett University). They point out that the market for cooking oil is poorly regulated, and so “sustainable fuels” can come from palm oil plantations which have devastated orangutan habitat in the tropics.
The result is “a smoke-and-mirrors exercise” designed to give the illusion of a world leaving fossil fuels behind, they say. With climate disasters mounting and greenhouse gas emissions at an all-time high, the same could be said for the UN negotiations themselves.
“Eight years ago, the world agreed to an ambitious target in the Paris Agreement: hold warming to 1.5°C to limit further dangerous levels of climate change,” says Brendan Mackey, an environmental scientist at Griffith University.
“Since then, greenhouse gas emissions have kept increasing … In 2023, the world is at 1.2°C of warming over pre-industrial levels. Heatwaves of increasing intensity and duration are arriving around the world. We now have less than 10 years before we reach 1.5°C of warming.”
COP28 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will proceed under the shadow of the UN’s global stocktake. This assessed whether humanity was on course to cut emissions in line with the Paris agreement’s targets by 2030.
The results are in: if all national pledges are fulfilled (not guaranteed), global warming will peak between 2.1-2.8°C this century. Blowing past 2°C, the upper temperature target of the Paris agreement, makes triggering feedback loops (like the release of potent greenhouse gas methane from Arctic permafrost) and catastrophic sea-level rise more likely.
For a chance to avoid climate breakdown and limit warming to 1.5°C, the world needs to prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to 22.9 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide (CO₂) from reaching the atmosphere over the next six years. This is roughly how much the top five polluters (China, US, India, Russia and Japan) emit in a year.
Tasked with leading negotiations to secure this outcome is Sultan Al Jaber, chief executive of Adnoc, the UAE’s state-owned oil company. Al Jaber and the UAE hosts were recently embarrassed by leaked documents showing they intended to pitch oil and gas deals to international delegates at the summit.
“The UK invited ridicule by expanding its North Sea oil fields less than two years after urging the world to raise its climate ambitions as summit host. The UAE seems destined for a similar fate – before its talks have even begun,” say Emilie Rutledge and Aiora Zabala, economists at the Open University.
On the agenda at COP28 is a proposed target for tripling renewable energy capacity and doubling the efficiency of existing sources by 2030. Delegates from countries within the High Ambition Coalition demand a written agreement to halt the burning of coal, oil and gas which accounts for roughly 90% of all CO₂ emissions.
Rutledge and Zabala argue that the UAE is an apt case study for the inertia which seems to prevent countries from meeting these aims. The Persian Gulf state subsidises rampant energy use among its public with oil and gas sales that total 80% of government revenues.
Little wonder the UAE would rather talk about the potential for technology to mop up its emissions.
“Adnoc, along with the wider oil and gas industry, has invested in carbon sequestration and making hydrogen fuel from the byproducts of oil extraction. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), such measures, even if fully implemented, will only have a small impact on greenhouse gas emissions,” Rutledge and Zabala say.
Where’s the money?
Another test of the UN negotiations will concern the money needed to help developing countries phase out fossil fuels, adapt to a hostile climate and overcome the damage wrought by greenhouse gases overwhelmingly produced by developed countries.
According to the UN, 80% of climate change can be attributed to G20 countries, a group consisting of the world’s major economies.
“For decades, nations have wrestled over the fraught question of who should pay for loss and damage resulting from climate change,” says Mackey.
“Now we’re close to finalising arrangements for the new Loss and Damage Fund. This will be [a] major issue for negotiators at COP28.”
Lisa Vanhala, a professor of political science at UCL, has followed the wrangling over a fund to compensate poor nations for climate change since one was agreed in principle in 2013. Ten years later, questions remain over who will pay into it, who will be able to draw from it and who will control it.
The last of those three questions was at least partially answered in early November. The World Bank, headquartered in Washington D.C., will administer the fund for an interim period. This would give rich donor countries like the US disproportionate influence over loss and damage funding, Vanhala says, and is a far cry from the partnership model small-island developing states had urged.
The World Bank traditionally offers loans instead of grants. Developing countries have consistently argued this funding should not increase a recipient’s debt burden, Vanhala says. And a board member for another fund hosted by the World Bank has reported that the admin fees it charges are rising and absorbing a larger share of its aid.
“This could mean that, for every US$100 billion offered to countries and communities reeling from disaster, the World Bank will keep $US1.5 billion. This will be hard for an institution still funding the climate-wrecking oil and gas industry to justify,” Vanhala adds.
Aside from loss and damage, rich countries failed to keep a promise to raise US$100 billion of climate change mitigation and adaptation funding by 2020. This money would help the most vulnerable nations build sturdier storm defences and solar farms, for instance, and will be the subject of heated debate at COP28.
US and EU negotiators have argued that China, the world’s second largest economy and its current biggest emitter, should be obliged to contribute to such funding – despite sitting with other developing countries in the UN talks.
But a new analysis by Sarah Colenbrander, director at the Overseas Development Institute and guest lecturer in climate economics at the University of Oxford, tells a different story. By following the substantial climate aid China already provides via other channels, such as multilateral development banks, Colenbrander argues that the real laggard and obstacle to a financial settlement is the US.
“The fastest way to restore trust in the international climate regime would be for the US to step up with its fair share of climate finance,” she says.
“Only once the developed countries have fulfilled their longstanding promise does a conversation about new climate finance contributors become politically possible.”
Five years ago, XR was told that 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. There will be groups from all sides telling us that we cannot talk about 2°C yet, that there’s no scientific evidence and that we haven’t seen the global trends — but we must continue to do so. Under the precautionary principle, which makes us put our seatbelts on in case of an accident, it’s vital we up the pressure because the truth is, that even if it was only for one day, even if temperatures will dip again, 2 °C has been breached and the trend is relentlessly upwards.
In this context — in a world that is as bad, if not worse than we predicted five years ago — we are once again seeing world leaders fly, on their private jets , to the next Conference of the Parties (COP) on Climate, COP 28. The conference will take place in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates , a nation built almost entirely on fossil fuel wealth. COP28 is led by Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber , founder and Chair of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) . which has the largest net-zero busting plans in the world .
At the same time, indigenous people who work tirelessly to defend their lands — which contain 80% of the world’s remaining biodiversity — and whose traditional knowledge is key to designing a sustainable future, are excluded from the negotiations .
Before it has even begun, it is clear the COP process has been captured by the fossil fuel economy. We are unlikely to see the rapid, just and equitable phaseout of all fossil fuels coming out of this process.
Like it or not, we’re all paying the fossil fuel industry to destroy the planet every time we do our taxes.
That’s right. Each of us is chipping in our hard-earned dollars [, Euros or Pounds], all to an industry earning billions in profits every year. One whose product is heating up our planet and sowing more and more climatic chaos the higher the thermometer rises.
We’re doing it through fossil fuel subsidies. And the time to end them is now.