[Dec 11-17'23] COP Part 3
Welcome to this week’s edition of The Weekly Climate 🎉
The format for this newsletter will be different, since we have the COP28 theatre going on. First of all, this newsletter is the same for paid and free members. I will do a Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 in this style too (unless something radical changes). Secondly, the focus will be mainly on COP28 and there will be a section at the end with other newsworthy items. Thirdly, if you’re just looking to get a brief update, then check out the “3 most important articles” section at the top right below the next section.
Next week is x-mas week and the week after that is New Years so there will be no newsletter these two coming weeks. But we will be back the first week of January with the regular format.
With that said I’ve been trying to dive into most of the stuff written about COP28 and here’s my take on the result.
I’m positive that an oil-infused, for lack of better words, COP managed to actually say that we need to “transition away” from fossil fuels.
The negative side is that it appears to be filled with so many loopholes that it once again shows that politics are good for one thing: Talk. No action. I’m basing this opinion also on the fact that oil executives apparently applauds and supports the agreement. This can’t be good when the companies who are supposed to go away are happy with a deal. Just the fact that gas appear to be still apart of the “solutions” is appalling.
Finally, the thing that put the nail in the coffin for me, to use a sinister and unfortunately, accurate term, is the fact that countries at this point in time can’t even agree to put the words “phase-out fossil fuels” in the agreement.
So yeah. I’m not including my policy section again after this.
The 3 most important articles
If you want to know the details of what happened then there’s two articles I can recommend. A short and a detailed one.
[#short] — Short and to the point article on what the COP28 agreements says. The COP28 agreement on climate change calls for deep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, tripling renewable energy capacity, and accelerating the phase-down (note phase-down not out) of unabated coal power. However, the agreement has been criticized for containing loopholes and weak language on transitioning away from fossil fuels. The text also lacks specifics on finance and fails to address the issue of ending the destruction of forests.
[#detailed] — As always a very detailed review of the key outcomes by Carbonbrief. The key outcomes of the UN climate talks at COP28 in Dubai include allegations of oil-and-gas influence and greenwashing, protests, surveillance, and harassment, as well as new climate science reports. The summit was marred by allegations of secret oil-and-gas deals by the UAE, and the presence of industry representatives and climate deniers. The Israel and Gaza crisis also impacted the summit, with leaders addressing the issue during their speeches. New climate science reports highlighted the urgency of addressing climate change. The road to COP29 and beyond is yet to be discussed.
[#failedtodeliver] — The COP28 climate conference in Dubai has failed to deliver a clear path to phasing out fossil fuels, according to leading climate experts. The finalized text of the agreement calls for accelerating efforts to "phase down" coal power and transition away from fossil fuels in an equitable manner. However, critics argue that the agreement lacks concrete boundaries and a convincing plan for the transition. The absence of small island states most affected by climate change during the decision-making phase further undermines the conference's outcome. The agreement falls short of preventing rising sea levels and fails to address the urgency of the climate crisis.
Good sum-up articles
Here’s a list of good articles that sum-up what happened at COP28.
[#winnerloser] — Short overview of the winners and losers of COP28. The winners of COP28 include the oil and gas industry, the US and China, COP28 president Sultan Al Jaber, clean energy companies, and lobbyists. The losers are the climate, small island states, climate justice, future generations and other species, and scientists who feel the deal lacks urgency and clarity.
[#foodnature] — Very detailed post by Carbonbrief on the COP28 key outcomes for food, forests, land, and nature include financial commitments for forest conservation, a pledge by the UK to ban products linked to illegal deforestation, and efforts to advance nature-based solutions. Funding packages were announced for countries like Papua New Guinea, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Republic of Congo. The UK pledged additional funding to Brazil's Amazon fund and announced plans to ban products with illegal deforestation in their supply chains. The importance of nature-based solutions and ecosystem restoration was emphasized, with commitments made to protect and restore ecosystems. Biofuels also received attention, with discussions on their role in reducing emissions and the need to increase their availability. Greenwashing and lobbying by "big ag" were also topics of concern.
[#theagreement] — Short and to the point article on what the COP28 agreements says. The COP28 agreement on climate change calls for deep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, tripling renewable energy capacity, and accelerating the phase-down of unabated coal power. However, the agreement has been criticized for containing loopholes and weak language on transitioning away from fossil fuels. The text also lacks specifics on finance and fails to address the issue of ending the destruction of forests.
[#details] — As always a very detailed review of the key outcomes by Carbonbrief. The key outcomes of the UN climate talks at COP28 in Dubai include allegations of oil-and-gas influence and greenwashing, protests, surveillance, and harassment, as well as new climate science reports. The summit was marred by allegations of secret oil-and-gas deals by the UAE, and the presence of industry representatives and climate deniers. The Israel and Gaza crisis also impacted the summit, with leaders addressing the issue during their speeches. New climate science reports highlighted the urgency of addressing climate change. The road to COP29 and beyond is yet to be discussed.
Topics at COP28
[#nature] — At COP28, the importance of healthy, biodiverse ecosystems in capturing and storing carbon dioxide was emphasized. The final COP28 statements highlighted the significance of nature, including forests, in global climate policy. The joint statement on nature, climate, and people emphasized the need to address climate change, biodiversity loss, and land degradation together. The renewed emphasis on nature at COP28 could help direct more focus to Article 5 of the Paris Agreement, which recognizes the role of ecosystems in carbon storage. Animals, such as wolves, beavers, elephants, and sea turtles, were also highlighted for their contribution to carbon storage and ecosystem health. Protecting and restoring terrestrial and marine ecosystems were recognized as important measures to reduce climate change risks and provide co-benefits.
[#food] — This New York Times article discusses the impact of the food system on greenhouse gas emissions and biodiversity loss. It highlights the vulnerability of small farmers in poor countries and the rise in hunger due to the pandemic and geopolitical events. The United Nations climate summit, COP28, addresses the challenge of feeding the world sustainably. While progress has been made, changing food habits and addressing agricultural emissions remain difficult. The Food and Agriculture Organization has laid out a roadmap to align the global food system with climate goals, including reducing food waste and methane emissions. National governments play a crucial role in implementing these changes.
[#carboncredits] — Carbon credits talks at Cop28 collapsed due to disagreements between the European Union and the United States. The EU and its allies rejected a "light-touch" approach favored by the US, leading to a failure to agree on key rules for carbon trading mechanisms. The collapse leaves bilateral deals in limbo and sends rule-makers back to the drawing board for a new global carbon market.
[#activism] — At COP28, a 12-year-old activist named Licypriya Kangujam managed to disrupt the event and call for action on climate change. Despite severe restrictions on protest activity in the United Arab Emirates, Licypriya walked on stage holding a sign that read "END FOSSIL FUEL. SAVE OUR PLANET AND THE FUTURE" and passionately urged governments to phase out coal, oil, and gas. Her protest was met with applause, but she was later detained and kicked out of the summit. Licypriya's story of activism began when she experienced the effects of air pollution and extreme weather events in India. She founded the Child Movement and has become a prominent voice at U.N. climate summits. While her actions are inspiring, they also highlight the failure of governments and corporations to address the climate crisis. Meanwhile, at COP28, discussions about phasing out fossil fuels continue, with some countries threatening to leave if the final draft text does not include strong language on this issue.
Enemies: Fossils & Co.
[#climatecorruption] — While some progress was made at COP 28, there are still significant issues in addressing climate corruption. Financial commitments to the loss and damage fund are not being met, fossil fuel dependency reduction commitments are vague, and major oil and gas expansions continue. The work at Drilled focuses on investigating and exposing the forces blocking climate action. The team has grown, cross-border investigations have been published, and collaborations with various media outlets have taken place. The extent of mainstream media's role in climate denial and delay has been revealed, and the investigative reach has expanded to multiple countries. The newsletter provides a list of climate must-reads, covering topics such as the UN Climate Talks, PR firms' influence on COP, the crackdown on climate protest, youth climate lawsuits, and the failure of carbon markets at COP28.
[#loophole] — Russia successfully campaigned for the inclusion of "transitional fuels" in the Cop28 agreement, with gas being the primary focus. While the agreement does not explicitly mention gas, it recognizes the role of transitional fuels in facilitating the energy transition. Some countries supported this language, but critics argue that it is a dangerous loophole and that a transition away from fossil fuels is necessary. The last-minute addition of this language went relatively unnoticed until the end of Cop28. Developed nations, including the European Union, were not resistant to including gas in the agreement, emphasizing the gradual transition to renewables. Small island states, who were likely to object to the language, were still discussing their position when the decision was made.
[#wording] — Leaders of high-polluting nations often label climate deals as "historic" to put a positive spin on the outcomes. While the COP28 deal is technically historic as it calls for all nations to transition away from fossil fuels, it conveys little meaning due to decades of inaction on climate change. The use of terms like "historic" and "unprecedented" by leaders and media outlets can mislead people about the true progress towards a safe climate future. Additionally, the COP28 deal contains loopholes that endorse the use of transitional fuels like methane, allowing the fossil fuel industry to continue its path towards dangerous warming. It is important to remember that just because something is labeled as "historic" does not mean it is effective or responsible.
Here’s a list of selected articles with reactions from various key players in the climate space
[#scientists] — The failure of Cop28 to call for a phase-out of fossil fuels is described as "devastating" and "dangerous" by scientists. The compromise deal reached at the UN climate summit, which called for a "transition away" from fossil fuels instead of a stronger "phase-out", was criticized for containing loopholes and not matching the severity of the climate emergency. Experts emphasize the urgency of phasing out fossil fuels and warn that failure to do so will lead to a more dangerous and uncertain future.
[#vulnerablenations] — Countries most at risk are criticizing a draft of the proposed U.N. climate agreement, stating that it falls short of calling for a phaseout of fossil fuels. The draft mentions that nations "could" take actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but does not address the need for deep cuts in fossil fuel use this decade. Diplomats from vulnerable countries have expressed opposition to the deal as written, while environmental groups argue that the language around fossil fuels should be strengthened. The deadline for an agreement is approaching, and negotiations are expected to continue.
[#thegrist] — The COP28 conference concluded in Dubai with world leaders finalizing the first global stocktake. While there was debate over a phaseout of fossil fuels, the agreement called for transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems. Advocates emphasize the need for continuous pressure and accountability at all levels to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. Health considerations were highlighted, but the declaration did not mention fossil fuels. The Grassroots Global Justice Alliance boycotted the conference, calling for human rights and demilitarization to be at the center of the agenda. The private sector's presence was notable, with tech and innovation taking center stage. Despite the challenges, entrepreneurs remain committed to solving climate problems.
[#insideclimatenews] — The COP28 climate conference in Dubai has failed to deliver a clear path to phasing out fossil fuels, according to leading climate experts. The finalized text of the agreement calls for accelerating efforts to "phase down" coal power and transition away from fossil fuels in an equitable manner. However, critics argue that the agreement lacks concrete boundaries and a convincing plan for the transition. The absence of small island states most affected by climate change during the decision-making phase further undermines the conference's outcome. The agreement falls short of preventing rising sea levels and fails to address the urgency of the climate crisis.
[#oilcompanies] — Oil industry executives expressed support for the agreement coming out of the United Nations climate summit, despite its call to transition away from fossil fuels. The agreement allows countries to choose their own pathways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and even suggests a role for natural gas in facilitating the energy transition. Oil producers managed to ensure language that plays to their strengths was included in the agreement, while also calling for the acceleration of carbon capture and storage. Wealthy oil-producing countries and larger energy companies are willing to make modest investments in cleaner energy technologies, recognizing the inevitability of a gradual change in energy use.
Other non-COP28 news
[#arctic] — The Arctic Report Card for 2023, published by NOAA, highlights the rapid changes occurring in the Arctic region. The past year was the sixth-warmest on record, with temperatures rising four times faster than in other regions. The report emphasizes the impact of the melting ice sheet in Greenland on global sea level rise and the connection between Arctic weather and extreme weather events elsewhere. The report also mentions the devastating wildfires in Canada and the loss of snow and ice. Collaboration between Western scientists and Indigenous communities is increasing, with efforts to restore ecosystems and mitigate climate change. However, there is a concern that the Arctic may be left out of international climate change funding discussions, despite the severe impacts on Arctic communities.
[#xmastrees] — Maybe a little late but if you haven’t bought a Christmas tree yet and are wondering what’s the most climate friendly solution, this article got you covered. Christmas tree farms have ecological benefits, providing habitats for wildlife and contributing to carbon sequestration and water and air purification. Real Christmas trees are endorsed by environmentalists for their ecological benefits over fake, petroleum-based alternatives. However, concerns about pesticide use and monoculture practices in large tree farms have been raised. After Christmas, trees can be recycled for compost, erosion control, fish habitats, or shelter for wildlife.
[#livestocklies] — A new study in Environmental Research Letters reveals that selective analysis of methane emissions in the livestock industry has led to misleading "climate neutral" claims. The study highlights the use of an alternative metric called GWP* that focuses on trends rather than total emissions, allowing the industry to downplay its impact on climate change. The study calls attention to problematic claims of climate neutrality in the peer-reviewed literature and emphasizes the need for ongoing, aggressive cuts in methane emissions to address the livestock sector's contribution to climate change.
[#oilspill] — A recent large oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico highlights the ongoing risks of offshore drilling to marine ecosystems and coastal communities. The spill, potentially the largest since the Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010, has raised concerns about the environmental impact and the challenges of preventing oil spills. Oil spills have long-lasting effects on habitats, wildlife, and local economies, making it crucial to address the risks associated with offshore drilling.
[#lawsuit] — Eighteen children have filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the United States, accusing the agency of failing to protect them from the impacts of climate change. The lawsuit argues that the EPA's negligence violates their constitutional rights to life and equal protection under the law. The plaintiffs also claim that the EPA has discriminated against them by undervaluing their lives and futures in its regulation of climate pollution. The lawsuit seeks to hold the EPA accountable and establish the status of children as a protected legal class in the country.
That’s it for this week folks!
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