June 16, 2023
COP28: Controversies surrounding the first ever global environmental stocktake
January 18, 2023, Abu Dhabi, UAE. Sultan Al Jaber during the Arctic Circle Forum conference.
Months before the COP28 in the United Arab Emirates, the UN climate summit’s president is facing severe backlash over his background in the fossil fuel industry
The COP28 summit will take place between November 30 and December 12. For readers wondering, the Conference of Parties (COP) is an annual meeting held under the auspices of the United Nations, where country representatives discuss the progress made towards tackling climate change.
Over 140 heads of state and 80,000 officials will gather in Dubai this autumn to review the progress made in relation to the 2015 Paris Agreement, whose goals were to arrest “the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels” and “to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.”
Apart from the Paris Agreement, there is also a pending review of the Kyoto Protocol, a treaty which was adopted as the first addition to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) back in 1995. The treaty was aimed to reduce the emission of gases that contribute to global warming by introducing a system of tradable emission rights.
As for the 28th annual meeting, the UN is in preparation for its first global stocktake. As referred to on the UN’s official portal, it is “a critical turning point when it comes to efforts to address climate change.” It is hoped that a new plan to tackle the climate crisis through collective efforts of countries will emerge, allowing a road map towards the global phase out of coal, oil and natural gas.
On that front, COP may fall on its face once again. As time runs near for the summit, scientists criticise the previous summit held in Egypt - the deal penned in 2022 in Sharm El-Sheikh lacks commitment to genuine reduction in fossil fuels consumption.
In the case of COP28, the first controversy came when Sultan Al-Jaber was appointed as the president of the summit. The nomination sparked outrage in civil society groups and environmental campaigners, who largely regarded it a folly on the part of the UN to appoint an oil magnate as a head of a conference for action against climate change.
Recent reports only added fuel to the flame – as when the Guardian revealed an orchestrated campaign utilising Twitter bot accounts to advocate in support of Mr Jabber.