Taking stock of 2023: COP 28, a new attempt towards the common good?

As the year 2023 draws to a close, our collective memory continues to recall the various events that we have experienced and that affect all of humanity in different places.

In the socio-political sphere, we are urged to call for peace in the harsh conflict between Israel and Hamas, which, far from being a current conflict, has its origins in times prior to the creation of the State of Israel itself, when in 1947 the United Nations divided Palestine into two states, one Arab and the other Jewish.

We cannot understand such a complex confrontation. “inhuman and aberrant“But it is important to know the essential issues such as the birth of Palestine, the disputed territory; to review the keys to understand the current conflagration; to know the role of the actors involved, such as Hamas, the Mossad, or the allies of each side at the international level. We must know the history, to know how to position ourselves, but above all, the defense of life!

In Dubai, during the COP28, several leaders have called for an end to the attacks. Among them Pope Francis. [1]

The earthquake in Turkey and Syria was another of the shocking news of the moment, at the beginning of 2023, two earthquakes of great magnitude shook Turkey and Syria leaving more than 5,000 dead, multiple irreparable losses and a devastating panorama, which is still not solved. Another seismic movement in September strongly shook Morocco, the night and the lack of adequate constructions contributed to the magnitude of the event. The intricate network of faults in the area makes it a “seismic bomb” always in danger of detonation.

The cinema left us with Christopher Nolan’s film about the life of the man who is considered the father of the atomic bomb: Oppenheimer. As we know, it began as an interesting experiment-research in the field of physics, and ended up being one of the most important tragedies and catastrophes of the last century, when the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.

Other news has been shaping the global landscape, but undoubtedly the one that most affects us in relation to climate change is the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Conference of Parties (COP), that is, the 28th United Nations Conference of the Parties on climate change, which has been held since 1995 (Berlin).

COP 28 was held from November 30 to December 13 in Dubai, and its agenda included not only taking stock of the Paris Agreement, but also trying to move towards a fairer energy transition and boost climate finance, among other important issues such as highlighting the urgent need to phase out the use of fossil fuels. Action in this decade was demanded by the European Union and many other countries. By choosing the term“transition“, we can perceive a small advance, since the text does not speak of“phasing out” fossil fuels. As a result, this term has become the banner behind which more than 100 countries and thousands of NGOs have lined up. Although the EU describes the result as “ historic”, it still leaves much to be desired.

Photo Side event 7 COP28 organized by Catholic Church institutions [2].

“The agreement voted at COP28 contains a political signal towards the exit from fossil fuels. But the bill is not there: the financial means have not been put in place to support the countries that need it most. There are also many very worrying mentions: gas as a transitional energy, carbon capture and storage or even nuclear energy. This COP does not live up to the ambitions promised.” argues Gaia Febvre, international policy officer at Réseau Action Climat [3].

In our opinion, it is very striking, firstly, that the country hosting COP28 is the United Arab Emirates, whose main source of income is oil. The Emirates (of which there are seven) are the 30th world power in terms of GDP. They are also home to seven of the so-called “carbon “carbon bombs, the largest fossil fuel production projects in the world.

“Fossil fuels pollute the air people breathe in the United Arab Emirates,” said Richard Pearshouse, environment program director at Human Rights Watch [4].

“We have reached a historic agreement.” This is the phrase most often repeated by the COP28 presidency in each plenary or media intervention. A sensationalist expression that is not reflected in the agreements. Thus, from the beginning of the sessions, it was agreed that more funds for climate “loss and damage” would be allocated to the most vulnerable countries.

The European Union together with other powers, including the United Arab Emirates, contributed around 700 million euros, which is obviously not enough, given that it represents only 1% of the total required.

“The initial pledges pale in comparison to the colossal need for financing, estimated at hundreds of billions a year,” reveals Harjeet Singh, head of global policy strategy at Climate Action Network International [5].

However, in the UN Climate Change News website, December 13, 2023, we could read that the so called “Global Balance Sheet” (known in English as Global Stocktake ), is a demonstration of global solidarity and that:

“While in Dubai we have not turned the page on the fossil fuel era, this outcome is the beginning of the end,” said Simon Stiell, Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change, in his closing remarks. “Now all governments and companies must turn these commitments into real economic results, without delay.” This aspect is highly criticized by many NGOs, trade union, feminist and environmentalist platforms, who see a “sifterThis is a “no obligation” for governments, as their agreements are not binding, which allows for non-compliance according to the interests of the States. [6]

Photo: UN Climate Change/Flickr.

The UN Secretary General, António Guterres, in one of his recent speeches, pointed out that the COP28 agreement reached recognizes for the first time the need to move away from fossil fuels, “after many years in which the debate on this issue was blocked” [7]. It seems to be a diplomatic success, but undoubtedly belated, gradually abandoning fossil fuels is the only way to maintain the +1.5°C target. There is an urgent call for zero emissions, but without phasing out fossil fuels (there is only talk of transition).

The science is clear that global greenhouse gas emissions need to be reduced by 43% by 2030, compared to 2019 levels, to limit global warming to 1.5°C. But it points to the Global Balancethat the Parties are far from meeting the objectives of the Paris Agreement.

Countries are then urged to triple renewable capacity and double energy efficiency by 2030, two requests that were widely repeated throughout the summit and supported by countries such as Spain.

The text also claims: “rapidly reduce unabated carbon (no decrease) and limit the authorization of new unabated coal-fired power plants “.. In other words, it is permitted to continue using this hydrocarbon, the methaneused in our heating and cooking and is the main contributor to global warming; provided that it has technologies (not named) that help reduce the emissions it generates during its activity.

Another of the proposals is accelerate global efforts towards net-zero emission energy systems.” by means of the capture and carbon storage (technology not yet tested on a large scale), renewables, energy, energy nuclearand the production of low-carbon hydrogenThe aim is to accelerate the reduction of emissions from road transport through the development and deployment of zero- and low-emission vehicles.

The Global Stocktake, includes the need to “eliminate as soon as possible” “inefficient” fossil fuel subsidies “that encourage wasteful consumption and do not address energy poverty or just transitions”.

The text speaks of the importance of “ climate justice The text speaks of the importance of “climate justice”, as demanded in particular by the new activist movements. The impact of the climate emergency in countries of the Global South is not the same as in places with greater resources. The level ofCO2 emissions is not the same in industrialized countries as in poorer ones, and the latter cannot afford to invest in renewables.

COP28 has favored the participation and inclusion in the event of different representatives of civil society, businesses, youth, Indigenous Peoples, religious NGOs and international organizations in an attempt to close the multiple socioeconomic gaps. Some 85,000 participants attended COP28 to share ideas and solutions, and build partnerships and coalitions. The Faith Pavilion hosted more than 65 sessions and brought together various representatives, being a space in which religious NGOs trying to influence the results of the same and spiritually defend climate justice, in this sense highlight the presence of UNANIMA International who attended the COP28 with the firm purpose of defending gender equality as a cornerstone of environmental justice, and to amplify the messages and lived experiences that are shared with us from the communities [8].

In a new attempt at active participation through Action for Climate Empowerment and the Gender Action Plan. An aspect that once again draws our attention, and that perhaps, dazzled by the lavish and striking staging of the different places and environments prepared for the meetings, we lose sight of the fact that in the Emirates the Declaration of Human Rights is neither recognized nor signed, that the standard of living is highly unbalanced, where there is no freedom of expression, they have a deficient performance against the climate crisis, there is discrimination against women and girls, where there is torture and ill-treatment, among other aspects, as stated by Amnesty International [9].

At COP28, the Parties also agreed that Azerbaijan (Baku) will host COP29 from November 11 to 22, 2024, which creates a new controversy, given that COP28 will be held in another oil-producing country with 50% of its GDP directly related to the sale of hydrocarbons and its direct relationship with the European Union through two major arteries in the form of export pipelines: the oil pipeline and the oil and gas pipeline. Baku-Tbili (BTC) and the Southern Gas Corridor. Therefore, denouncing this reality from the outset gives a certain margin so that the COPs do not once again become a space for image laundering for the countries that host them, as has happened in Egypt (COP27) and the United Arab Emirates (COP28).as stated by the journalist from Climatic, Alfons Perez [10].

Some opinions, such as those of diplomatic analyst Tom Evans, of the think tank think tank E3G, believe that, despite the progress made, this text could “help avert disaster in Dubai, but does not avert disaster on the planet.” The spokeswoman for Greenpeace International , Kaisa Kosonen, on learning of the latest draft: “It’s still not the decision the world needs or deserves,” despite “improvements over previous drafts.” There needs to be “a final outcome on phasing out fossil fuels without all these distractions and dangerous false solutions.” [11].

From our being Vedruna we echo the words of Pope Francis: I ask you from my heart: let us choose life, let us choose the future! Let us listen to the groaning of the earth, let us hear the cry of the poor, let us give ear to the hopes of the young and the dreams of the children! We have a great responsibility: to see to it that they are not denied the future.” [12]

It’s in our hands!

Mercedes Alvarez, ccv


[1] From the MLS website

[2] Video of the event: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8niyR4YHdTQ&t=15s

[3] https://www.france24.com/es/medio-ambiente/20231213-cop28-acuerdo-hist%C3%B3rico-para-una-transici%C3%B3n-lejos-de-los-combustibles-f%C3%B3siles

[4] https://www.hrw.org/es/news/2023/12/04/eau-los-combustibles-fosiles-envenenan-el-aire

[5] https://www.abc.es/antropia/nuevo-fondo-perdidas-danos-solo-cubre-necesario-20231209070211-nt.html

[6] https://www.ecologistasenaccion.org/305945/cop28-la-hipocresia-frena-el-abandono-justo-y-definitivo-de-los-combustibles-fosiles/

[7] https://www.newtral.es/resultado-cop28/20231213/

[8] https://unanima-international.org/cop28/

[9] https://www.amnesty.org/es/location/middle-east-and-north-africa/united-arab-emirates/report-united-arab-emirates/

[10] https://www.climatica.lamarea.com/cuatro-motivos-cop29-no-en-azerbaiyan/

[11] https://www.newtral.es/resultado-cop28/20231213/

[12] https://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/es/speeches/2023/december/documents/20231202-dubai-cop28.html