COP28 Climate Summit: A Spectacular Failure in Dealing with Global Warming
2023 UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) represented by 197 counties and EU together with around 85,000 participants, held with much fanfare during 30 November to 13 December 2023 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a failure as the final Declaration does not offer anything “transformational”. Its outcome is the same as that of COP27 held in Egypt during November, 2022. It offers nothing substantial regarding the 2015 Paris Pledge to “substantially reduce global greenhouse gas emissions to hold global temperature increase to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.” With global greenhouse gas emissions expected to peak by 2025, the 1.5°C target required reduction in emissions of 43% by 2030 and 60 % by 2035 relative to 2019 level, reaching net zero CO2 (carbon neutrality) by 2050. COP28 could not make any move forward in this direction compared to COP27.
Though the Summit failed to take urgent and immediate steps in the direction of climate warming, the final Draft that brought out in the morning of the extended day of December 13 managed to seek a “transitional phase out” of fossil fuels which, as expected was opposed by the oil-producing OPEC that controls around 80 percent of the world’s oil reserves. Ironically, the COP28 president was Sultan Al Jaber, a UAE minister and head of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), one among world’s leading oil and gas producers. The proposal on phase out of fossil fuel appears to be rhetorical only as it has many likely loopholes. And as argued by many, in view of the Zionist war of aggression on Palestine and war between NATO and Russia in Ukraine using the latter as a proxy, oil production is likely to go up in the immediate future. Further, fossil fuels are only one of the factors behind global warming; other serious questions including direct plunder of nature by corporate capital and destruction of ecosystem such as deforestation and encroachment of wetlands and waterbodies were not at all properly addressed in the Summit.
However, the Summit utterly failed to ensure the required financial support from the US-led imperialist powers for the dependent poor countries for the “transitioning away” from fossil fuels. And as reported, US, world’s biggest climate polluter, was totally against any equitable distribution of the burden of fossil fuel reduction through a differentiated responsibility on countries, and hence the Declaration was almost silent on the crucial question of financial support for the backward countries. Leading powers such as US, China, EU and Japan who were more responsible for global warming, while putting the onus of emission reduction on neocolonially dependent Afro-Asian-Latin American countries and Island nations who are on the verge of extinction, seemed highly reluctant to bear the financial responsibility of the devastations. The $750 million Loss and Damage Fund, which is a paltry amount approved in the course of the Summit will not be considered as compensation for the damage inflicted on world community by corporate capital.
To be precise, at a time when humanity is going through an irreversible climate crisis and catastrophic impacts of climate change are manifested on a daily basis across the globe, being unable to address the core issues, the annual Climate Summits conducted under the auspices of the UN since 1995, has become some kind of a window dressing for diverting world people’s attention from the core issues.Without reversing the corporate model of development and transforming to a progressive mode of production and a paradigmatic shift in development that is in harmony with nature with appropriate changes in social, cultural and gender relations, it would be difficult to address the climate question today. It is impossible for a coexistence of the present corporate model of development and the interests of world people as one is the antithesis of the other. On the other hand, both the neoliberal State and a large section of the non-state or non-governmental entities who are active in the environmental sector today are directly or indirectly linked up with corporate capital, and even UN Climate Summits are also subject to it.
Therefore, we agree with what Greta Thunberg, world-famous climate activist said regarding the Dubai Summit: "It is a stab in the back for those most vulnerable." This grave situation can be overcome only by overcoming the hegemony of global corporate capital, and it is up to the working people and all oppressed together with all progressive and democratic forces to take up this task in right earnest.