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The UN Climate Change Conference - COP28
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Natia Skorupski

Dec 12, 2023

COP28, a controversial event amidst two international conflicts, has passed. So what happened?

The Conference of Parties of the United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP28, just finished a meeting between nearly 200 countries to address the world’s transition away from fossil fuels. The two week long conference was ironically held in Dubai, UAE, one of the world’s top oil producing nations.

To add to the irony, the president of the COP28 talks was also the chief executive of UAE’s state-owned oil company, Sultan al-Jaber. 

From November 30th to December 12th, nations who agreed to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1992 discussed progress on limiting the rise in average global temperatures, funding and the phasing out of fossil fuels towards more renewable energies.

Over 36,000 delegates attended, including ceremonial world leaders such as King Charles III. While President Biden did not attend, Vice President Harris appeared for December 1st and 2nd of the summit. 

Suspicions about the United Arab Emirates’ goals for the summit seemed to have been confirmed when briefing documents revealed the nation planned to use the conference as an opportunity to strike gas and oil deals. With the intent to work with at least 15 nations, the UAE has not denied these findings, stating that “private meetings are private.” 

Although the UAE may have alternative goals to the meaningful pursuit of the conference, the summit appears to have made progress.

For the United States, Kamala Harris announced a pledge of $3 billion to the Green Climate Fund, which aids developing nations in adapting to the climate crisis and cutting fossil fuel production. Negotiators around the world are working on finalizing a fund which compensates vulnerable countries for irreversible losses due to climate change. 22 countries additionally pledged to triple nuclear energy capacity by 2050, in order to move further away from nonrenewable energy. 

The conference itself concluded with a pledge to phase out fossil fuel use by 2050. The conclusion has been widely recognized as significant progress, but many — especially representatives of small island states — argue that it doesn’t go far enough.

Others, especially in OPEC, argue that the focus should be on reducing emissions instead of phasing out fossil fuels, and that carbon capture technology can be used to diminish the amount of carbon in the atmosphere without harming the fossil fuel industry. However, the difficulty of implementing this tech at scale proved enough to motivate the conference to take a different direction. 

As for whether the promises of COP28 will be fulfilled, time will tell. The next step is more tangible action from policymakers, climate activists and industries. Conferences are important, but they’re not a substitute for policy solutions. 

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