Five Key Narratives to Watch For at COP28

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Original article republished from DeSmog.

Here’s DeSmog’s take on what to expect at this year’s climate summit, from Big Oil’s influence, to a new Big Ag agenda, to promotion of sketchy solutions that would keep oil and gas burning for decades to come.

The United Arab Emirates’ pavilion at COP27. Credit: Adam Barnett

The annual United Nations climate negotiations are just a week away. Known as COP28 — since it’s the 28th year of the “conference of the parties” to the United Nations climate agreement — it will be hosted by the United Arab Emirates in Dubai from November 30 through December 12. 

COP28 will be especially significant, as it will feature the first-ever “global stocktake,” of how much progress — or lack thereof — countries and other stakeholders have made toward meeting the goal established in 2015’s Paris Agreement of limiting warming to “well below” 2º degrees Celsius. 

Negotiators at COP28 will also aim to make progress on key climate issues including loss and damage finance, a just energy transition, and closing the emissions gap.

As the climate crisis accelerates, so, too, do efforts by the fossil fuel industry to derail steep reductions in carbon pollution by mid-century, in part by promoting false solutions. Below, we’ve rounded up recent coverage to help you make sense of the key denial and greenwashing narratives that will be front and center during the event.

A Big Presence from Big Oil

After all, this is the first annual climate conference with a Big Oil exec at the top: COP28 President Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber

Al Jaber, the person leading these global climate negotiations, is the CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC). He has openly called for fossil fuel companies’ “help to drive the solutions,” and advocated overcoming “the hurdles to scale up and commercialize hydrogen and carbon capture technologies” — two so-far unproven climate solutions being heavily promoted by the fossil fuel industry. A big presence from Big Oil would be in line with trends at the past two summits: 636 fossil fuel lobbyists registered to attend last year’s conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, while 503 registered for 2021’s gathering in Glasgow.

Dive deeper with our Climate Disinformation Database profile of Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, our coverage of his appointment as COP28 president, and our reporting last year on fossil fuel lobbyists at COP27.

An Industry Push for CCS

The fossil fuel industry will paint carbon capture and storage (CCS) as a climate solution during this year’s conference. Critics argue it is anything but. 

Of the 32 commercial CCS facilities operating worldwide, 22 use most, or all, of their captured carbon dioxide (CO2) to pump more oil out of depleted wells. Burning that oil creates far more CO2 than what is captured. 

DeSmog recently analyzed 12 large-scale CCS projects around the world and found countless missed carbon capture targets, as well as cost overruns, with taxpayers picking up the tab via billions of dollars in subsidies. Despite these failures, Big Oil publicly champions CCS and pushes projects over communities’ objections. Privately, the industry shares critics’ concerns.

With the Biden administration channeling billions of dollars into investments and tax credits for CCS, the United States is likely to be a key CCS supporter at the conference.

Dive deeper with our explainer on how CCS is used for “enhanced oil recovery,” our investigation into CCS’s biggest fails, hear what Big Oil is saying about CCS in private.

Greenwashing by Big Agriculture

This year’s climate conference is coming on the heels of the world’s hottest year, with devastating floods around the world affecting the global food supply, and more than 330 million people worldwide facing famine. So COP28 leaders have released a four-point “food and agriculture” agenda for the summit that calls for governments and industry to collaborate on finding new solutions to climate change–driven food insecurity. 

However, some of the biggest companies in agribusiness, are using greenwashing to shift the debate away from meaningful action. DeSmog has debunked six concepts that the world’s largest food and farming companies will be co-opting in hopes of swaying debates and discussions in  Dubai — including “regenerative agriculture,” “nature-based solutions,” and “climate neutrality.” Stay tuned for DeSmog’s coverage from Dubai — our team will be keeping a close eye on Big Ag.

Dive deeper with our coverage of how food systems are linked to fossil fuel consumption, investigations into the meat and dairy groups downplaying their industries’ climate impacts, and the ties between Big Ag and right-wing politicians in the EU.

PR Spin That Promotes Denial and Delay

Ever wonder how a top oil-producing nation like the United Arab Emirates earned hosting duties for this year’s climate summit, or why the chief of UAE’s state oil company ADNOC, Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, has ascended to one of the top roles in global climate negotiations? Reporting by DeSmog revealed that from 2007 to 2009, Edelman, the largest public relations firm in the world, ran a campaign to bolster the UAE and Al Jaber’s green images. 

Advertising and PR agencies like Edelman have long burnished the public’s perceptions of fossil fuel interests, and are still creating advertising campaigns for big polluters that distract from and delay climate action — such as sponsored-content for a pesticides giant or leading climate communications while catering to Big Oil. Still, within the ad industry, pressure is mounting to stop working with fossil fuel clients. Some companies and organizations are even dropping ad and PR firms for taking on new fossil fuel industry accounts

Follow DeSmog’s coverage as we highlight the PR spin at COP28.

Dive deeper with our Climate Disinformation Database profiles of PR and ad firms EdelmanOgilvy, and FleishmanHillard, our investigation into Edelman’s campaign to burnish Al Jaber and the UAE’s green creds, and our coverage of the backlash to Havas winning Shell’s business.

Anticipate Disinformation 

Disinformation strategies and narratives will be on display throughout the summit — much as we reported during COP27, where fossil fuel-linked groups spent around $4 million on social media ads that spread false climate claims. 

The disinformation may flow thicker and faster than ever during COP28. As DeSmog has reported, over the past five years climate greenwashing has “gone through the roof,” as major polluters turn to greenwashing to avoid accountability for the climate crisis. In part, this may be a response to the increasing number of climate lawsuits and legal complaints against misleading climate claims. Attorneys general across the U.S. have charged fossil fuel companies with defrauding consumers by lying about the impacts of burning coal, oil, and gas — while activists and campaigners in Europe seek to hold Big Oil accountable under regulations against misleading advertising.

To understand disinformation tactics and where they come from, dig into DeSmog’s reporting about past greenwashing campaigns. We recently shone a light on the way the gas industry borrowed Big Tobacco’s tactics to promote doubt over the health effects of gas stoves. Or read our investigation into how corporate polluters and their political allies have been using the same rhetoric of delay for the past six decades when faced with the prospect of regulation.

Dive deeper with our column on why greenwashing works and how to fight it, our Q&A with Climate Investigations Center researcher Rebecca John, and our investigation into Shell’s knowledge of climate change.

Original article republished from DeSmog.

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‘Real Solutions, No Bullshit’: Action Targets Biden DOE Over Climate Scams, Greenwashing

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Original article by JULIA CONLEY republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).

Climate Justice Alliance campaigners protest outside the Department of Energy in Washington, D.C. on October 31, 2023. (Photo: Climate Justice Alliance/Twitter)
Climate Justice Alliance campaigners protest outside the Department of Energy in Washington, D.C. on October 31, 2023. (Photo: Climate Justice Alliance/Twitter)

“Now more than ever, we need real leadership from the Department of Energy to end fossil fuels,” said one organizer.

Climate advocates on Tuesday donned Halloween costumes to greet attendees of the U.S. Department of Energy’s “Justice Week,” but the organizers assembled outside the agency will be urging guests to demand far more from Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and the Biden administration, who they say are “greenwashing” efforts to further equity and environmental justice.

The department’s Office of Economic Impact and Diversity is holding the five-day event, where officials plan to highlight efforts to move “toward a more equitable, clean, and just energy future.”

The week will include discussions of the Low-Income Communities Bonus Credit Program, which pushes for more access to renewable energy facilities in underserved communities, and executive actions President Joe Biden has taken to promote environmental justice.

All those actions, however, have happened alongside the administration’s push in favor of so-called climate “solutions” that scientists say are unproven and serve only to perpetuate fossil fuel extraction under the false assumption that it can do so while still addressing greenhouse gas emissions and planetary heating.

The DOE, noted Basav Sen, a climate justice project director at the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) who took part in the action, is “the biggest funder of false solutions such as carbon capture and storage, hydrogen, and direct air capture.”

“These are scams. We know that the real solution to the climate crisis is to keep fossil fuels in the ground and make a rapid, just transition to real renewable energy controlled by communities,” said Sen, wearing zombie face paint at the direct action. “Instead what were seeing from the Department of Energy is a continuation of the fossil fuel economy.”

As Common Dreams reported in May, analysts say that just running the machinery to operate a carbon capture and storage project—like the ones the Biden DOE announced a $1.2 billion investment in earlier this year—would increase energy consumption by 20%, adding to carbon dioxide emissions.

Smogbenzene, and formaldehyde emissions also increase with carbon capture technology, biologist Sandra Steingraber said—three types of pollution that disproportionately affect people in low-income neighborhoods, the very communities the DOE says it’s targeting with environmental justice programs and events like “Justice Week.”

Additionally, noted Sen, the DOE is continuing to license exports of fossil gas.

“We are here today to tell attendees of the Department of Energy’s Justice Week that the version of environmental and energy justice that they’re going to hear from the Department of Energy in the event is greenwashing, pure and simple,” said Sen. “The Department of Energy cannot pretend to be on the side of environmental justice while they are actively licensing more fossil gas exports, which means more fracking, more air and water pollution, more pipelines, more export terminals, more sacrifice zones in frontline communities.”

Some of the campaigners displayed the organizers’ message succinctly on a banner reading, “Real Solutions. No Bullshit.”

“Now more than ever, we need real leadership from the Department of Energy to end fossil fuels, quit peddling climate scams and advance energy justice,” said Climate Justice Alliance (CJA), one of the groups behind the action.

Addressing Granholm, the group added that the secretary “can’t cover up [her] record with greenwashing events like Justice Week 2023 while undermining real climate and environmental justice with [her] actions.”

“We demand an end to fracked gas exports, carbon capture, and hydrogen energy,” CJA said.

Original article by JULIA CONLEY republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).

Continue Reading‘Real Solutions, No Bullshit’: Action Targets Biden DOE Over Climate Scams, Greenwashing

Keith Starmer offers up ‘dangerous false solutions’ to crisis-hit NHS, campaigners warn

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NHS sign
NHS logo

LABOUR’S leadership is offering “dangerous false solutions” to the crisis-hit NHS, campaigners warned today after Sir Keir Starmer said the health service must “reform or die.”

Jeremy Corbyn’s successor told the BBC that the NHS should always be free at the point of use, but that there is also a “role for the private sector,” including with help clearing massive waiting lists.

The Socialist Health Association, Labour’s affiliated socialist society for healthcare and medical professionals, said Sir Keir is “right that the Tory-damaged NHS is in urgent need of repair.”

But the group stressed that his solutions “are all wrong.

“After over a decade of Conservative austerity, with staff leaving in droves amid real-terms pay cuts of up to 26 per cent since 2010, the NHS is desperately in need of more funding.

“Instead, the Labour leadership is offering bromides and dangerous false solutions. For Keir Starmer to advocate self-referrals for internal bleeding is a recipe for disaster that will waste resources and cost lives.

Continue ReadingKeith Starmer offers up ‘dangerous false solutions’ to crisis-hit NHS, campaigners warn