COP28: UN climate change summit opens in Dubai to take a shot at warming emissions

COP28 gathers the globe at a key juncture for global transformative climate action

By Web Desk
November 30, 2023
The leaked briefing notes were prepared by the UAE’s COP28 team for summit president Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber ahead of meetings. — AFP/File

The crucial 28th Conference of Parties (COP28) summit Thursday opened in the oil-rich United Arab Emirates, amid rumours that the arab state's government may try to leverage its hosting position to make oil and gas agreements.

Representatives from around 200 nations, including government officials, industry leaders, and civil society groups, will attend COP28 to advocate for assistance and effective action to address the escalating dangers of global warming.

Furthermore, Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar arrived in Dubai on Wednesday to attend the meeting.

According to the Prime Minister's Office, he was met at Dubai's Al Maktoum Airport by UAE Minister for Justice Abdullah Sultan bin Awad Al Nuaimi, Pakistan's Ambassador to the UAE, and Pakistani diplomatic officials.

The COP28 gathers the globe at a key juncture for global transformative climate action.

The ex-climate chief of the United Nations, Christiana Figueres, said she was "giving up hope" on fossil fuel firms being part of the solution to warming.

With the UN climate talks anticipated to focus on the future of fossil fuels, Figueres is concerned about allegations that the UAE intends to utilise its hosting position to secure oil and gas deals.

Figueres went on to add that she previously felt that the world's polluting coal, oil, and gas companies should have a role in these talks.

"I'm actually giving up hope on that," she said, adding that it was "unforgivable" that the industries funnelled the bumper profits of recent years into shareholder dividends and lobbying efforts — rather than invest in renewable energy technologies.

She also asked for greater openness about the COP presidency, which is now held by the UAE's Sultan Al Jaber, who is also the president of the Emirates' state oil and gas business.

In response to BBC reports of leaked papers indicating that the UAE planned to use its role in hosting the climate conference to secure fossil fuel agreements, Figueres stated that if accurate, the claims would constitute a "serious breach of the COP presidency's responsibility."

"It is not a meeting to advance the interests of the oil and gas industry," she told PBS News in a linked interview hosted by the organisation Covering Climate Now.

"This is a convening of all the governments in the world to advance the protection of the planet... precisely because of the negative consequences of mostly the operation of the oil and gas industry."

Jaber strongly denied the BBC reports Wednesday, saying they were "false, not true, incorrect".

Global climate negotiations largely avoided mentioning fossil fuels for decades, until Glasgow's COP26 agreed to "phasedown" unfiltered coal power and the "phase-out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies", AFP reported.

Momentum has grown since a pledge to transition from fossil fuels, with a surge in renewables and electric vehicles boosting optimism for achieving climate goals.

The 2015 Paris deal, involving nearly 200 nations, aimed to limit global warming to "well below" two degrees Celsius since the preindustrial era and preferably a safer threshold of 1.5°C.