Holding the COP 28 United Nations Climate Change Conference in the United Arab Emirates, a country actively seeking to in-crease the size of its oil and gas industry, bemused many with accusations of putting the fox in charge of the hen house. This was personified in COP28 President, sultan Al Jaber—who is also CEO of the UAE state oil company, Adnoc—who has claimed there is “no science” indicating that a phase-out of fossil fuels is needed to restrict global heating to 1.5C (The Guardian). He later claimed he was misquoted.
Environmentalists also criticised the organisers for granting access to at least 2,456 fossil fuel lobbyists, accord-ing to the Kick Big Polluters Out (KBPO) coalition, a record number, and almost four times the number registered for COP27. Lobbyists outnumbered every country delegation apart from Brazil (3,081), which is expected to run COP30 in 2025, and the host. The Guardian
Heads on spikes
Ramping up the rhetoric was Fortescue Metals Group founder Andrew Forrest, who said fossil fuel industry leaders' heads "should be put up on spikes" during comments to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. He said he wants members of the mining sector to be held accountable for the growing number of deaths related to climate change. "They're just selfish beyond belief. And when the deaths occur - and they're occurring now, but when they occur on a much larger scale, I want these so-called ‘people who are very smart' to be held to account. It's their heads which should be put up on spikes - because they willfully ignored and they didn't care," Forrest said. Mining Journal
Early COP28 sessions did target the reduction of the use of thermal coal. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization, the UN's top doctor, compared fossil fuels to tobacco and smoking cigarettes (The Guardian). More importantly, the USA joined the Powering Past Coal Alliance and committed to close all its coal-fired power plants, a move which puts pressure on the world’s biggest burner of coal, China, to reciprocate.
Coal generates about 40% of fossil fuel emissions and its phase-out is essential to fighting the climate crisis. The USA has the world’s third biggest fleet of coal-burning power stations. The deadline set by the US for ending coal appears to be 2035, five years after the 2030 date seen as compatible with keeping global heating below 1.5C.
Colombia, which has a large thermal coal export industry, also signed the fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty, the tenth to do so, and only the second that is a fossil fuel producer. “While it is the use of fossil fuels that causes emissions, there is no direct mention of fossil fuels in the Paris agreement or subsequent agreements,” said Colombia’s environment minister Susana Muhamad (The Guardian).
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