Among climate alarmists, to our mingled relief and amusement, reality is starting to set in. A quarter-century ago, they could rant, rave and visualize all they wanted about the coming apocalypse in 2030 or so. But now they have to deliver (a) an apocalypse and (b) a solution. The former seems to be no problem, rhetorically at least, including now that we live not in the time of global boiling but the “Flame Age.” The latter is proving more difficult. Indeed, it seems as though the much-hyped COP27 just fizzled out and yet, believe it or not, COP28 is going to start in less than two months, on Nov. 30, in the United Arab Emirates because it’s nice and warm there even in winter and warmth is a deadly threat. We’ve jeered about this one before. Sure, meet in Kyoto, Rio and even Paris. Do COP 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. But 28? Really? It’s not just that everything that could be said has been. It’s that anyone who could have said it already has. And is out of empty metaphors to keep the talk going.
According to Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, president of COP28, “COP28 UAE is a prime opportunity to rethink, reboot, and refocus the climate agenda.” Sure, whatever. As to why it needs rethinking, rebooting and refocusing, or why they couldn’t do it before this Nov. 30-Dec. 12 meeting so the actual sessions would achieve something useful, well um yes that is to say…
OK. Here’s the deal. As Reuters “Sustainable Switch” finessed it in early October:
“Countries remain divided over fossil fuels in the run-up to the 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference or Conference of the Parties (COP28) summit next month.”
Divided how? Isn’t everyone agreed that they are evil and deadly and must go, and also that we need to take steps to bring down their cost? (Echoes of St. Augustine’s famous prayer “Give me chastity and continence, but not yet.”)
In an earlier piece, in September 2023, “Sustainable Switch” had conceded that:
“Nations are at odds over fossil fuel cuts this week. One camp is pushing for a decisive shift away from the role of coal, oil, and gas, while the other clings to its use. Climate-vulnerable nations like the Marshall Islands are pleading for cuts, while the European Union has agreed to dilute combustion engine regulations, as the UK scales back its fossil fuel-reducing legislation.”
But even this language is profoundly self-deceiving. Sure there are two camps, but everyone is magically in both. The nations supposedly “pushing for a decisive shift away from the role of coal, oil, and gas” have no intention of carrying it out personally nor do they have any idea how they might carry it out if they did. (Germany, famously a leader in this regard for a long time, actually shut down its nuclear plants and then reactivated its coal plants, which underlines just how clueless these people are about anything remotely practical.) And those who “cling” to its use, a psychologically pejorative term which here basically means every rich country (except possibly Canada under Justin Trudeau) and every country whose government wishes its people weren’t poor, just aren’t going to give up hydrocarbons no matter what sanctimonious hypocrites and irresponsible zealots say or wave about on signs.
Euronews.green tried to make the conference sound promising anyway, with “Phase out or phase down? Fight over fossil fuels heats up in run-up to COP28”. But it’s mostly just drivel, because nobody’s planning to stop using fossil fuels tomorrow, not even the protestors with their petroleum-based clothing, electronics, glue, transportation and so forth. And the fight is, again, purely verbal.
Indeed, in its laboured efforts to suggest that one of two positive, meaningful outcomes would triumph in this clash of titans, the piece added:
“in April this year, G7 nations agreed to accelerate the ‘phase-out of unabated fossil fuels’. It was a step in the right direction, but the inclusion of the word ‘unabated’ means it only targets those that use these fuels without technology to capture their carbon emissions.”
Which aren’t really working anyway. And how much “abatement” would be needed? It wasn’t actually a step at all, in any direction except toward even more woolly fatuity.
Still, onward and upward Rhetoricelsior:
“Heading into COP28 in December, it could be the trickiest issue facing leaders and negotiators at the UN climate summit. Protesters, officials and campaigners have all backed calls for an urgent global agreement to phase out fossil fuels. This year’s push for a commitment at COP28 is gathering momentum too.”
Ah, momentum. Which in this case isn’t hard to gather because instead of surging massively forward it’s just sitting there.
The piece plods bravely on with “As countries around the world look to rapidly reduce global carbon emissions, some see this [carbon capture] technology as a vital part of the transition.” But what does “look to rapidly reduce” really mean? Who’s actually doing it, and who’s willing to bet the economy and the next election, in that order, on rapidly cutting their own emissions?
Pfui. Politicians gabble and promise wondrous vague things, as they always have on every file. But none of them has any idea how to cut carbon emissions significantly without devastating economic and social impacts, so the conference won’t accomplish anything.
As usual. The October Reuters piece also allowed that:
“Spain’s Energy Minister Teresa Ribera warned that talks at COP28 will be ‘challenging’ as she opened a gathering of energy ministers and climate leaders from around the world in Madrid.”
Wait. What? Another global climate conference, we cry? Did you find someone who hadn’t yet mouthed every conceivable cliché? Do potentates and pundits literally fly to one of these things every week?
Yup. Pretty much. This time:
“Teresa Ribera, Vice-President of the Government of Spain, and Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency, will host an international Climate and Energy Summit in Madrid on 2 October 2023 focused on the urgency of accelerating the global clean energy transition. This important event, which takes place during the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the European Union, will bring together energy and climate ministers from around the world just weeks before the United Nations’ COP28 Climate Change Conference. The Summit seeks to build a broad international coalition that can increase momentum in order to meet the commitments of the Paris Agreement – notably the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 °C.”
Not to criticize your management and planning skills. But isn’t there some argument for building such a thing a bit more than five weeks before the two-week gabfest in Dubai? And since you all agree, what’s the point of saying it to one another again? And how’s your carbon footprint? Oh, and speaking of sprinkling the menu with adjectives like “important” and “broad”, how’s the food?