COP28, The 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference, has sparked controversy and concern as Sultan Ahmed Al-Jaber, the President of the conference, also serves as the CEO of a leading Emirates’ oil company.

This dual role has raised questions about the sincerity of the commitment to a strong stance against fossil fuels. The draft agreement proposed by President Sultan Al Jaber has particularly drawn attention for its removal of any reference to the “phaseout” of fossil fuels, replacing it with a “phasedown” approach. The real question is: could we expect something different?

COP28: Phasedown vs. Phaseout

The crux of the issue about Cop28 lies in the terminology used in the draft agreement. While the previous versions included a commitment to a gradual “phaseout” of fossil fuels, the latest iteration has shifted towards a softer “phasedown” language. This change is significant, as it implies a reduction rather than a complete elimination of fossil fuel usage.

Image: Cop28

The draft agreement allows nations the flexibility to choose how they will “reduce” fossil fuels, which contribute to approximately two-thirds of global greenhouse gas emissions. This shift in language has sparked concern among environmental advocates, as it potentially weakens the commitment to combating climate change effectively.

Global Response

The proposed draft has faced criticism on the global stage, with the European Union deeming the text “insufficient” and the United States calling for substantial strengthening. Notably, island nations, as well as several African and Latin American countries, which are among the most affected by climate change, have voiced their dissatisfaction with the draft. Environmental organizations actively participating in the negotiations have also joined the chorus of protest.

Concerns from EU and USA

The European Union, a key player in global climate negotiations, has expressed dissatisfaction with the draft agreement. The absence of a commitment to a complete “phaseout” of fossil fuels is viewed as a significant drawback. The EU argues that a mere “phasedown” does not align with the urgent need to address climate change effectively and protect vulnerable regions from its adverse effects.

The United States has echoed these concerns, calling for substantial strengthening of the draft agreement. As one of the largest historical contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, the U.S. emphasizes the need for a more robust commitment to reducing fossil fuel use. The call for a “substantial” strengthening reflects the country’s recognition of the severity of the climate crisis and the urgency of taking meaningful action.

Protests from Affected Nations

Countries most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, particularly island nations in the Pacific and Caribbean, as well as nations in Africa and Latin America, have protested against the softened language in the draft agreement. These nations, already experiencing the devastating effects of rising sea levels and extreme weather events, stress the importance of a more aggressive approach to phasing out fossil fuels to mitigate the impacts on their populations.

Source: UN, The Times


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