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Action or inaction? The first week of COP28

Oil

The high attendance rate of COP28, being held in Dubai from the 30th November to the 14th December, may instil confidence in some. However, over 2,000 of this number have backgrounds in the fossil fuel industry, and the COP President this year is Sultan Al Jaber, chief executive of the state-owned oil company of the United Arab Emirates. As the BBC put it, “hosting a climate conference in a petrostate sounds like the beginning of a bad joke”, but in some ways, positive progress has been made so far.

Most importantly, more than 100 countries, including the United States and the EU, have stated that they wish to see a phasing-out of fossil fuels. Furthermore, Saudi Arabia, the second largest producer of oil after the United States, is set on modernisation and a large part of this agenda could include decarbonisation and a transition to clean, green energies. Sultan Al Jaber also believes that countries such as Russia, with climate policy categorised as ‘critically insufficient’ by Climate Action Tracker, can be persuaded to support this overarching legislation.

The future of fossil fuels remains central to the rest of COP28. Sultan Al Jaber was forced to backtrack after claiming there is “no science” behind ending fossil fuel usage to limit global temperature rises. He argued that his words had been misrepresented, saying his background as an engineer and economist prove he is attentive to science and that “the phase out of fossil fuel is inevitable”. Whilst confusing, these statements show a glimmer of hope for the dramatic reduction in oil use which must happen before 2050.

Scientists have reached a consensus on when fossil fuel use must cease, now it is up to nations, governments, and citizens to decide how this will happen. 

 

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