As we observed last week, it seems odd that 70,000 people are converging on COP28 in Dubai given the patent futility of the gathering. Not to mention the hypocrisy. New York Times columnist David Gelles writes that the delegates are gathering with “high hopes” of ending global fossil fuel use “but it’s impossible to ignore the fact that the summit is being held inside gleaming new facilities built with oil money.” The conference thus perfectly symbolizes the entire modern climate movement: wealthy out-of-touch busybodies wandering about in a miraculous world made possible by affordable fossil energy feasting on fine food and wine while they discuss how everyone else should be forced to do without. And then wondering why no one is listening.
Heatmap Daily rather gave things away with an email entitled “Climate Christmas” that linked to a story that said “The two weeks of COP are like climate Christmas”. Meaning what exactly? Well, a festive atmosphere. Food and frolics with your friends. Something like that. And then a giant lump of coal in your stocking on the big day. It’s clear that most activists have retreated into wish fulfilment as emissions just keep rising. That Heatmap Daily story explains that:
“Unless there’s some kind of disaster looming, climate news often takes a back seat to other issues. COP, however, gives climate types an excuse to grab people by the ears and force them to pay attention. There’s an inevitable uptick in climate news each time the conference rolls around, much of it from the conference itself.”
We beg to differ. First, it seems to us that the newspapers are full of climate news all the time, grabbing people by the ears and forcing them to ignore a flood of seriously erroneous reporting, all of which involves a disaster looming. But second, if you’ve really gotten to the point that you’re excited at the same sorts of announcements they’ve been making at 27 straight COPs, and umpteen other conferences, and at every opportunity in between, you need a new hobby. It’s like one of those prank Christmas gifts, an ugly sweater or something, that gets repackaged each year and is unwrapped to hoots of derision before being put aside for next year.
No, really. For instance they’re all excited that:
“The U.S. and European Union, for example, are leading a push to triple renewable energy capacity by the end of the decade. Developing nations, meanwhile, will try to get their wealthy counterparts to finalize a loss and damage fund created at last year’s COP, but which has languished in limbo as rich governments (including the U.S. and EU) haggled over what they owe.”
Then there’s climate Jack-in-the-box António Guterres who, DPA International announces as though it were something grand, unexpected and practical:
“has called on the global community to break out of the ‘deadly cycle’ of global warming and melting ice at the poles at the upcoming COP28 climate summit in Dubai. ‘Leaders must act to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, protect people from climate chaos, and end the fossil fuel age,’ Guterres told journalists in New York on Monday.”
The deadly cycle, no less. Told you there’s a disaster looming, or sixty. But whether leaders “must” act to “end the fossil fuel age”, the chance of them doing so is about as large as mince tarts suddenly tasting good.
“while hopes are high that countries might find ways to rapidly reduce greenhouse gases and limit the use of coal, oil and gas, the reality is that fossil fuel emissions are still growing.”
Gosh. How can it be, after 27 straight years of political bloviation about the will to act for the children of the future? Well, the New York Times “Climate Forward” notes sourly of COP28:
“This year’s global climate summit has a built-in conflict: Sultan al-Jaber, the man leading this year’s talks in the United Arab Emirates, is also the head of its national oil company.”
And the hosts were just caught planning to use the conference as, in part, a massive trade show for their LNG and other products. It really is hard to parody… or like.
The Japan Times also conceded that “Japan’s relationship with coal likely to be in focus at COP28” and complained that “With COP28 taking place during a year set to be the hottest on record, the need for more progress has never been greater.” And yet:
“During the COP28 climate talks in Dubai that begin Thursday, Japan is likely to agree to triple renewable energy use and pledge to reduce its reliance on coal. While those measures may garner widespread support, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida could face less enthusiasm among the delegates for Japan’s plan to reduce coal plant emissions with more cutting-edge – but controversial – carbon capture technologies.”
So the plan is to stop burning coal by continuing to burn it. It would be. Another lump in your stocking there? Why yes. Yes please. And some ammonia. Fuel of the future. Honest.
By the time Reuters “Sustainable Switch” is down to telling us that Joe Biden and Xi Jinping will both be skipping the thing, and that “An invitation was extended to Bashar al-Assad, the president of Syria, but a member of the Syrian delegation told Reuters that Prime Minister Hussein Arnous would lead the ministerial delegation” we find our enthusiasm so well contained that if only it were carbon, capture and storage would be a proven technology. (Even NPR struggled to sound excited while a Guardian headline sneered “Brilliant: a Cop28 to save the planet – staged by oil barons who imperil it”. Boo rich people. “Climate wreckers“. And the Guardian boasts “We’re not funded by billionaires” but actually it is.)
Syria’s president is a monster, and one with no interest at all in climate change. And that “Ruslan Edelgeriev, special presidential envoy for climate change of the Russian Federation, is also expected to attend” just can’t be interesting even to the person who wrote it. So instead they did an exposé of climate zealot King Charles III, saying:
“Reuters investigative journalist Tom Bergin uncovers the story of George Smith, a wealthy member of parliament who invested deeply in the slavery economy – whose direct descendants include King Charles and Britain’s current finance minister Jeremy Hunt.”
Whereas Bashar al-Assad, well, a good friend of that Russian guy or something.
Anyway, if you like figgy pudding, COP28 is apparently for you:
“There’s been a lot of back and forth lately in climate circles about the value of COP – Christiana Figueres, the architect of the Paris Agreement, called it a ‘circus’ – and many journalists I know expect there to be few surprises from the conference this year. But the glut of news around COP makes me think the conference provides something of value beyond just the negotiations. Few if any other annual events generate quite this burst of announcements across governments, think tanks, and private industry, and for a couple of weeks each year climate change moves to the forefront of our minds.”
Is it nap time already?