COP28 delegates are going nowhere as divides deepen

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The UN climate summit officially ends today. But with serious disputes over the wording of a draft fossil fuel treaty flights may be delayed. 

COP28 delegates are going nowhere as divides deepen

A draft text for a potential roadmap to end fossil fuel use, presented at COP28 in Dubai yesterday, has ignited fierce debate between countries. A deadline had been set for a package to be finalised by last Tuesday, which was then extended to 11AM local time today. 

Critics of the proposed document say wording drops references to phasing out oil and gas, which had been included in a previous version. Meanwhile, representatives of OPEC, an alliance of fossil fuel producing nations, had been instructed to reject any such deal by the bloc’s secretary. 

Former US Vice President Al Gore took to X, formerly Twitter, to voice his dismay at talks heading for ‘complete failure’. He said: ‘The world desperately needs to phase out fossil fuels as quickly as possible, but this obsequious draft reads as if OPEC dictated it word for word… It is even worse than many had feared. 

At the resumed high-level segment of COP28, John Silk, Natural Resources and Commerce Minister of the Marshall Islands, told delegates that failing to produce a clear and viable approach to ending high polluting fuels, bringing down global warming, and minimising sea level rise would condemn citizens of the archipelago to ‘watery graves’. Along with other low lying nations such as Tuvalu and Kiribati, the country could be underwater by the end of this century. 

‘Island states like my own have been coming to COP for years to try and convince others that our future in our homes matters,’ said Silk. ‘Despite our best efforts, we are far, far off track. We cannot pretend otherwise. With current policies, the planet is on track to a 2.9C future. We cannot adapt to a temperature rise that high: the loss and damage will be incalculable. It will be our death sentence.’

The lack of progress on oil and gas reduction poses a serious threat to the credibility of COP, which has already been under fire for this year’s exponential increase in fossil fuel representatives and host United Arab Emirates’ economic reliance on the industry itself. Nevertheless, significant agreements have been made on agricultural methane, emissions from cooling systems, and a climate loss and damage fund over the past two weeks.

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Image: Will Francis

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