Daily posting from COP 28

The conference is now over with some delegates in modest despair (unless you are a member of the small islands group and you would drop the modesty), while others put a brave face on it and point to the fact that fossil fuels are definitely in the firing line for the first time.

We are hoping to co-host an event in January with Kit Vaughn (a local resident and part of the Elders Group) for his insights into what went on in Dubai. He has visited many COPs and will answer questions from the audience. Date and venue tbc. We will then share a roundup of COP 28 on the website.

December 13th, reporting on yesterday the 12th and today

After the anger with which the first text was received, there was not much to report yesterday except the further downgrading of UK standing in the climate concerned world as our already minor representative Graham Stuart slipped away at this most crucial part in the proceedings, to cast his vote for the government’s Rwanda bill.

But earlier today, after more rewriting of the script, a text was produced and passed without further debate by everyone except the Alliance of Small Island Groups who were not in the room as the gavil came down.

Most commentators and even countries who’d hoped for stronger language have hailed the resolution as historic on the grounds that for the first time fossil fuels are identified as being at the heart of the problem. At Section 28 the need for ‘deep, rapid and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in line with 1.5C pathways’ is recognised.

But countries are only ‘called on’ to take the actions such as tripling renewable energy, to reach those reductions – 43% by 2030 and 60% by 2035. Coal power is only to be phased down and then only if unabated: fossil fuels generally are not to be phased out but ‘transitioned away from’. Still under the eminently ignorable ‘call’ a lot of matters are to be ‘accelerated’ – zero and low emissions technologies, abatement and removal technologies such as carbon capture and low carbon hydrogen, emissions from road transport, and reducing non CO2 emissions, particularly methane. Only the latter acceleration actually has a date affixed. This is to happen by 2030 but by how much is not stated.

And at Section 29 there is recognition that ‘transitional fuels can play a role in facilitating the energy transition while ensuring energy security’. There is no definition of transitional fuel in the text but it is widely considered to refer to gas so it looks as though this particular fossil fuel can morph into something else for as long as its deemed necessary.

As UN climate chief Simon Stiell said, the final agreement leaves a lot of room for interpretation. It’s up to countries to be ambitious he said, but if they don’t, “loopholes leave us vulnerable to fossil fuel vested interests, which could crash our ability to protect people everywhere against rising climate impacts”.

Exactly. There is much more could be said, particularly on the shortcomings of the agreement to secure enough funding for adaptation, mitigation, and loss and damage, but for further reading I recommend the excellent coverage of the Guardian.http://https/www.theguardian.com

December 12th, reporting on yesterday the 11th

The text of the “weird and messy” stocktake was summed up most starkly by the Samoan Minister Cedric Shuster:

“ We will not sign our own death certificate”

The text which came out on Monday evening has been widely rejected by

the EU, Germany, the Marshall Islands, AOSIS, Chair of the Elders Mary Robinson, COP26 President Alok Sharma, Spain, the UK, the Least Developed Countries negotiating group, the US, Vanessa Nakate, the Umbrella Group (which includes Australia, Japan, Canada, Norway and several others already on this list – many major fossil fuel producing states).

The language is soft. Should and must are not in the text and instead we have could, might and may consider. “Phasing out” fossil fuels has become reducing their use and production and the solutions on offer feature CCUS (now called Carbon Capture, Usage and Storage) and low carbon hydrogen (made from fossil fuels).  The language on fossil fuel subsidies is so weak that it will have no impact.  The loss and damage text had been weakened, though the fund itself has already been voted through at the beginning.

Our summary yesterday had a sense of hope that negotiations were moving in a positive direction.  Now if Al Jaber (COP president) were to stick to his tight time schedule, forcing a yes or no, there are many who would walk away from this agreement.  But already the exhausted delegates are beginning to pick up the pieces, and are awaiting a new text soon? Tomorrow?

COP is supposed to finish today: they usually overrun.  It appeared that the UAE intended this year to be different and anticipated showing their skills at punctuality.  Rather than finish today’s posting with Al Gore’s sharp rebuke of the current text, we are finishing with a quiet plea from Alok Sharma

“I would say to all the countries who are opposing [a phase out], please think about what is at stake. 2023 was the hottest year on record and we’re seeing more frequent and ferocious climate events around the world. Genuinely I believe that we’re in the last chance saloon to save our children’s futures.”

“These countries need to remind themselves that climate change does not recognise borders. What happens in one country happens ultimately everywhere else, including in the fossil fuel producing countries.”

December 11th

Yesterday (10th), the COP president Al Jaber held a majlis, the gathering of people in a circle to solve problems practiced in Arabian countries, and declared that he would ‘under no circumstances let ambition be diluted’. With himself at the centre of the circle he invited the audience to speak heart to heart, which most of them duly did. Columbia which last week pledged to end fossil fuel production, pointed out that the announcement had brought a lowering of its credit rating and a drop in the value of the peso. Transition is not going to happen unless there is reform of the current global financial system.

Bolivia, outspoken on the need to maintain the Paris principle of ‘common but differentiated responsibility’ called out the shortcomings of the US, Australia, and Canada who are all intending to increase their oil production by 2030 and Norway, which is planning very slow reduction while stating that any text produced should be compatible with maintaining 1.5. Saudi Arabia stuck to its position that the focus should be on emissions of production rather than production itself.

Easy as it is to identify continued disagreement, there are some voices hopeful about the outcome. Catherine Abreu, director of Destination Zero, said that in 8 years of attending climate talks she had ‘never felt more that we are talking about what really matters …..there is overwhelming consensus that phasing out fossil fuels and scaling up renewable energy is absolutely necessary to hold to the promise of the Paris Agreement’.

Absolutely necessary also are financial instruments up to the task of transition and adaptation, particularly for less developed nations, which includes countries such as China and India that might not automatically spring to mind. This Like-Minded Group of Developing Countries have said that agreement on phase out or phase down is contingent on so called fully developed countries taking the lead in providing financial assistance. Harjeet Singh, of the Climate Action Network said that the draft text on adaptation fails to mention the most recent UN adaptation report which says that there needs to be an annual input of £155-£290 which the fund is at the moment far off reaching. More funding and specific measurable targets are needed if the summit is to call this a success.

After the majlis, Al Jaber spent Sunday meeting with all the contending groups and re-iterated his commitment to delivering an outcome ‘based on the science lead by the science and equipped by the science’. The science about what though? Are we talking modelling of projected climate heating, tipping points, Antarctic melt, or still developing technologies? Science is not fact but interpreted data, subject like everything else to whoever has the power over the interpretation and its communication. We’ve seen the cost of that over the decades when the voices of climate activists were suppressed by the ‘science’ put about by the petro-chemical industry. There is massive wriggle room here for ‘the science’ of carbon capture and aviation fuels among other things.

At least the rift with Mary Robinson (see previous posts, I think around 1st December) seems to be over as a COP28 post on X states that he had sought ‘her guidance and counsel on convening diverse voices to find solutions to shared problems’.

December 9th

Quote of the Day in response to host Al Jaber COP president:  “Nothing puts the prosperity and future of all people on Earth, including all of the citizens of OPEC countries, at greater risk than fossil fuels. 1.5° is not negotiable, and that means an end to fossil fuels.” 
Tina Stege. Climate Envoy for the Marshall Islands

We have been struggling with what day it is.  I am writing this on Dec  10: but I am summarising Dec 9th.

While the COP is now in the process of trying to organise the “Global Stocktake” (how are we doing with past promises) and statements on Adaptation and other subjects, yesterday was “nature day”:

Nature day saw countries signing up to the COP28 Joint Statement on Climate, Nature and People – a joint initiative from the Presidencies of COP28 (UAE) and the last Convention on Biodiversity COP (China). It represents the first real effort to connect up the dots on climate and biodiversity, committing countries to joining up their commitments under the different international processes and scaling up finance and engagement to deliver it. Signatories include Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Indonesia, the UK and the US.

Azerbaijan has been announced as the host of next year’s climate summit, at one point the rumour was that Russia has vetoed this. Under UN rules it was eastern Europe’s turn to take over the rotating presidency but the groups need to unanimously decide on the host. Russia had blocked EU countries and Azerbaijan and Armenia were initially blocking each other’s bids.

Climate activists are likely to react with concern to the news, given the perception already that COPs have been partly captured by fossil fuel interests. Much like this year’s host, the country of 10 million people on the border of eastern Europe and western Asia relies economically on fossil fuels: oil and gas production accounted for nearly half of Azerbaijan’s GDP and more than 92.5% of its export revenue last year, according to the US government’s International Trade Administration.

Gas platforms off the coast of Azerbaijan’s capital, Baku.

As the climate summit goes into its final days, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) will on Sunday unveil its long-awaited intervention on the future of agriculture in a 1.5C world. But the FAO roadmap is expected to be short on detail and long on aspiration. The launch is likely to set out some of the main areas of work but leave the big issues for the future, with the promise of laying out more detail at Cop29 and Cop30.

This issue is crucial to both climate and biodiversity and it is disappointing how it has yet to be treated with any urgency.  Fortunately the UK is ahead of the game with its ELMS scheme, a portion of which will be conducted in the Brit catchment area. https://www.westdorsetwilding.org/news

Sources: https://www.theguardian.com.ukhttps://eciu.net:

8th December

Today is the Global Day of Action for Climate Justice, with events and protests expected round the world, but limited in the UAE to that part of the COP arena which is classified as UN territory.

And after the rest day we entered the final days of negotiation in the shadow of a leaked letter from the head of OPEC to its members calling for them to ‘proactively reject any text or formula that targets energy, ie fossil fuels, rather than emissions’. Where will Brazil stand, burnishing its recently improved protection of the Amazon but candidate to join OPEC? Can we take hope from the signs that fossil fuel producers feel threatened and declare that ‘pressure against fossil fuels may reach a tipping point with irreversible consequences’?

It does seem as though the 100 strong High Ambition Group have been working hard to keep ‘phase out fossil fuels’ as the starting point, with riders such as according to the best available science, and unabated available to add. What precisely abated means is itself a sticking point, at the moment referring vaguely to capture and storage of undefined proportions of emissions. There are around 475 lobbyists at COP28 promoting this technology which others argue cannot possibly deliver on the scale needed and should be reserved for hard to decarbonise industries such as steel and cement. To reach net zero emissions by 2050 the technology would have to capture 32 gigatons of CO2, and to do this would require more electricity than the current total global demand and cost about $30 trillion.

Another issue is that of fairness, with developing countries arguing that there should be different timescales and pathways for the decarbonisation of their economies with the Bolivian negotiator possibly speaking for others when he said that his group would not ‘compromise our right to development’

Countries have been paired to work on elements of the final text – the global stocktake, mitigation, adaptation (explained in yesterday’s post) and finance. The adaptation fund is woefully behind what is needed; African nations, the Arab group and small island nations are all concerned at the pace of negotiation. Australia and Chile are the countries tasked with preparing the adaptation text and perhaps the burning heat Australia is currently experiencing will help focus their minds.

Back to the UK and the Sunak administration continues to show a lamentable sense of priorities. He and Claire Coutinho, the energy and net zero minister have made only brief appearances at COP, leaving Graham Stuart, a minister who does not attend cabinet, to lead UK negotiations and represent Global Britain.

Sources: https://www.theguardian.com.uk: https://eciu.net: https://www.climatechangenews.com

Dec 6th update

The terminology of COP gets confusing.

Loss & Damage: The fund aims to support the most vulnerable and poorest countries to keep up with the rising costs associated with extreme weather events, such as storms and floods, as well as longer term consequences of climate change including rising sea levels and melting glaciers.

Mitigation: Often used differently outside the COP, mitigation refers to cutting carbon emissions or taking steps to not produce emissions in the future (this refers to developing countries).

Adaptation: The adaptation fund is to finance specific projects and programs in developing countries to prepare for the adverse affects of climate change.  Loss & damage is paying for the consequences of climate change, adaption is preparing for likely damages.

Finance day and the IMF claimed yesterday that carbon pricing would raise trillions needed to tackle the climate crisis.

Kristalina Georgieva, the managing director of the IMF, said it was possible to achieve the same result – of making high-carbon activities reflect their true costs to society – using regulation, and by cutting the bad subsidies that encourage fossil-fuel use.

This summer, the IMF calculated that the direct and indirect subsidies that go towards fossil fuels, even without counting proven impacts such as health costs, had reached more than $7tn (£5.56tn), driven to record levels by governments’ reactions to the cost of living crisis.

Reforming these would release resources that could be poured into renewable energy and other low-carbon technologies, stimulating the market for “clean” growth, said Georgieva. On the “flip side”, she added, putting in place a carbon price would penalise high-carbon investment.

The Guardian added that the theory sounds attractive, but badly applied leads to the “gilets jaunes” and attacks from the right wing in the US and Australia. 

Today is a rest day for the Conference and we will not have an update tomorrow.  Our stream at home has burst it’s banks and I hope Bridport has not flooded again. I will send out an announcement tomorrow about the Brit rivers catchment meeting (14th).

December 5th

The 6th day of COP 28 was again overshadowed by outside stories.  But first a Telegraph newsfeed headline: We no longer need the COP Circus—technology and markets are already solving the climate crises.   Discuss

I have some sympathy with the phrase COP Circus, but not in the way the Telegraph intended.  It was Indigenous People’s Day at COP 28, but this was overshadowed by the fact that there were 7 times more fossil fuel lobbyists than indigenous delegates.

If the fossil fuel lobbyists at COP28 were a nation, they would have the third largest delegation – behind Brazil (future host) and UAE (current host)


Food and agriculture risk being left out of the talks altogether, both as a primary subject and in the Global Stocktake (a crucial part of COP’s monitoring described in yesterday’s report).  This is from the ECUI’s daily feed:

A bad day in the food and agriculture talks. Where agreement should have been advanced on decarbonisation and adaptation of the global food and agriculture system, parties were left nowhere yesterday, as a procedural move called a halt to the negotiations and remitted the whole thing to Bonn inter-sessional meetings next June – which effectively means no chance of agreement or progress before COP29, wherever that is. With food and agriculture having been weirdly left out of the bumper global stocktake text as well, you’d be forgiven for thinking the world faced no growing threats to global food supply chains, and the sector was not itself a significant part of driving climate change and biodiversity loss. Observers were left frustrated with a sense that blocking tactics have in effect, killed talks on food for another year, at least.

A report from Exeter University on tipping points should awaken anyone who has nodded off.  This hit the news yesterday : https://global-tipping-points.org/  

And finally, air conditioning comes up for discussion:  At this year’s COP climate summit the issue of air conditioning will be at the forefront of discussions as some of the world’s largest economies have signed up to the first ever global cooling pledge, led by the UN environment programme.

So far, more than 50 signatories have signed on to cut their cooling emissions by 68% by 2050. India, however, is set to massively increased their air con use over the next decades.

Tomorrow Vladimir Putin is due to visit both the UAE and Saudi Arabia. No suggestion that he will visit COP.

December 4th

Yesterday was Finance and Gender day, but still dominated by what Sultan Al Jaber, COP president and CEO of the UEA oil company Adnoc, now calls a ‘misunderstanding’ of the exchange between himself and Mary Robinson, former UN special envoy for climate change and president of the Republic of Ireland. In order to clarify the misunderstanding he held a press conference with the Chair of the IPCC nodding beside him to confirm his longstanding commitment to following the science (where have we heard that phrase before?) and to state that he had always held the view that fossil fuels will have to be phased out. The crucial question is ‘when’, and judging by the expansion plans of Adnoc, deemed by the Global Oil and Gas Exit List to be the largest of any other oil and gas company, not any time soon. Adnoc it should be said, considers their data to be misleading.

In any case, his protestations don’t explain away the previous assertion that ‘there is no science out there, or no scenario out there, that says that the phase-out of fossil fuel is what’s going to achieve 1.5C’, a comment swiftly demolished by …..scientists.

It looks as though the disagreement has highlighted Al Jaber’s dual role, questioned long before COP got going, and there was much attention yesterday on the number of fossil fuel delegates at this year’s conference. 2,400 of them, a 400% increase on last year, more than 10 times the total number representing the most vulnerable countries and more than 7 times the number of officials from indigenous communities. Not surprisingly, many people are questioning what they are doing there.

While we’re on representation and since yesterday was also focused on the unequal impact that climate change and disruption has on women and girls, it is worth pointing out that only 34% of delegates are women.

Meanwhile more financial commitments were being made but the adaptation fund still has only half its target for the year. Mia Mottley the PM of Barbados advocated a 0.01% tax on financial transactions which would deliver $420 b and further taxes on fossil fuels, aviation and shipping to deliver a further $420b. And efforts are being made to quieten the concerns developing countries have that the Loss and Damage fund will be initially hosted by the World Bank whose staff have a particular culture that might affect how funding is channelled. These concerns are apparently also due to a misunderstanding.

And in the background officials are working on what is perhaps the most important issue of all at this COP, one which would encompass all the controversy about phasing out or down, the Global Stocktake. This was mandated as part of the Paris agreement; countries agreed on a 5 yearly review of progress toward the Paris goal of keeping global warming to 1.5C by 2050, and on the back of the review, identifying what more needs to be done to keep on track. Since we know that emissions are still rising and that we have already had days when global temperature was above a 1.5 increase, it looks like some difficult truths will have to be reckoned with.

Sources: http://https/www.theguardian.com: http://https/eciu.net: https://climatechangenews.com

December 3rd 2023

COPs tend to start with a flourish and end hopefully with one. There is work going on but “as the negotiations get serious now that the leaders have gone”, there will be less pronouncements of new strategies: . Today the focus was a zoom meeting chaired by Mary Robinson on November 21st, at which Al Jaber, the COP 28 president took part. He did make this startling claim:

“I accepted to come to this meeting to have a sober and mature conversation. I’m not in any way signing up to any discussion that is alarmist. There is no science out there, or no scenario out there, that says that the phase-out of fossil fuel is what’s going to achieve 1.5C.” then

“Please help me, show me the roadmap for a phase-out of fossil fuel that will allow for sustainable socioeconomic development, unless you want to take the world back into caves.” There is more context to these quotes, but they don’t mislead his intent and this is alarming. The UAE (as is Saudi Arabia) have large expansion plans for their fossil fuel industries.


We picture these COPs as a gathering of people trying to work out consensual solutions to fix our climate, but many corporations (and governments) appear to view them solely as opportunities, to expand and to stop regulations that will infringe their economic growth and profit.

Other news: A timely new report is out today. While the CEO of ExxonMobil was complaining this weekend that Cop28 does not focus enough on carbon capture and storage, research shows that a high Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) pathway to net zero emissions in 2050 is expected to cost at least $30 trillion more than a low CCS pathway – roughly $1 trillion per year.

editorial comment: While “abatement” and capturing carbon fill the corporate descriptions of net zero, we should remember that these only refer to oil and gas companies cleaning up the processing of their products. It causes no reduction in the CO2 released from the vehicles and industries using their product. Were they able to capture all emissions this would at most mean 15% of the total greenhouse gas emissions they cause.

Saturday Dec 2nd

It seems as though the contribution of methane (which heats the atmosphere much more powerfully than CO2 but is short lived) to global warming is at last being taken seriously, not so much those notorious emissions from livestock but the methane leaked by the fossil fuel industry. The US pledged to cut methane emissions in its oil and gas industry by 80% by 2038, a more ambitious target than was set at COP 26, and more countries have joined the pledge, bringing the total up to 150 countries. Methane reduction is essential if we are to keep to the Paris goal of no more than 1.5 global heating, and the UN now has a system to monitor methane plumes.

The US made another significant step in joining the Powering Past Coal Alliance, committing to no new coal plants and the phase out of existing ones and also promised $3 billion to the Green Climate Fund, bringing total donations to the fund to $12.7.

Led by the EU, the US and UAE, 117 governments have agreed to triple renewable energy by 2030 and double the rate of energy efficiency improvements. This goes alongside a call by 22 countries including the UK to triple nuclear energy by 2050; other nations and campaigning groups contest this as too costly and too risky and a distraction from the cheap, safe, democratic solutions to the climate crisis that are renewable energy and energy efficiency.

As the crunch decision on whether the world commits to phase out, or phase down fossil fuel production, and with what abatements, it was encouraging yesterday to see Columbia, a country with a significant oil, gas and coal industry, join the alliance of nations calling for a fossil fuel non proliferation treaty, with a new transnational body to oversea the global transition to renewables. Though only 10 governments have signed up to the idea, it has support from the EU parliament, WHO and 100 cities and sub national governments.

Sources: http://https/www.theguardian.com : http://https/eciu.net : https://climatechangenews.com

Friday Dec 1st:

The King’s message: It is interesting what regard the world holds King Charles’ words. And perhaps this has always been his subject and it feels as if in these circumstances he is let off the lead and speaks for himself. What he says has more resonance than our Prime Ministers.

The world has embarked on a “vast, frightening experiment” on the natural world, King Charles has told world leaders, which risks triggering “feedback loops” in the climate system that will cause irreversible disaster.

Noting that 2023 was the hottest year on record, the king told the Cop28 UN climate summit on Friday: “Records are now being broken so often that we are perhaps becoming immune to what they are really telling us. We need to pause to process what this actually means: we are taking the natural world outside balanced norms and limits, and into dangerous, uncharted territory.”

In an opening speech calling on leaders to make Cop28 “a critical turning point”, he warned: “We are carrying out a vast, frightening experiment of changing every ecological condition, all at once, at a pace that far outstrips nature’s ability to cope … Our choice is now a starker, and darker, one: how dangerous are we actually prepared to make our world?

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/dec/01/cop28-king-charles-warns-of-vast-frightening-experiment-on-natural-world

Food Production and Climate

  • It’s the first time the annual UN gathering has recognised that what people grow and eat is a crucial factor in global warming
  • The agreement involves 134 world leaders who have signed up to the COP28 agriculture, food and climate action declaration
  • Those countries – who include the US, China and Brazil – together produce 70% of the world’s food
  • They each have promised to consider greenhouse gas emissions from food and agriculture in their national plans to combat climate change
  • In 2015, food system emissions were calculated as being responsible for around a third of global warmingwith 18bn tonnes of greenhouse gases emitted
  • Farming groups have welcomed today’s declaration but warned that countries must deliver on their promises
  • But critics say the announcement is too vague and doesn’t set out how world leaders will tackle emissions related to food production

Source BBC: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/science-environment-67440257

Thursday Nov 30th:

Loss and damage fund agreed on first day of Cop28

It was an action-packed opening day in Dubai as the Cop28 conference kicked off, and the world leaders don’t even arrive until tomorrow.

We’ll be back again tomorrow for day two, when the focus will be on world leaders’ speeches and the official opening of the conference, led by the UK’s King Charles III.

Guardian 16:30.