Can the world do something to counter the escalating climate crisis? At least she wants to try. In just a few days, tens of thousands will come together for this herculean task – in an oil state of all places.
At the end of the year, which according to initial forecasts will probably be the hottest since weather records began, the global community is discussing its future. Heads of state and government – even the Pope and King Charles III. – wrestle with the question: What do we do to prevent it from getting much hotter and climate change causing far more drastic damage? Around 70,000 negotiators, journalists, activists and experts are meeting for two weeks at the UN World Climate Conference in Dubai. An overview of what it’s all about and what’s at stake.
The climate conference is taking place for the 28th time – but what’s the point?
Doubts that the crisis will be resolved at these conferences are justified. The processes are cumbersome and the agreements are often voluntary. And yet: the mere fact that representatives from around 200 countries come together is not a given. All countries involved, even China and Russia, de facto recognize that we have a common problem.
What to expect from the meeting?
In Paris in 2015, the states agreed to limit global warming to well below two degrees – preferably 1.5 degrees. Most countries have ratified this agreement and have therefore committed themselves to bringing their climate policy into line with it. This was considered a breakthrough at the time. However, not enough has happened since then. “This also appears regularly in the resolutions of the climate conferences, but paper is known to be patient. Far too little happens afterwards,” says Jan Kowalzig, an expert in climate diplomacy at Oxfam. Since many countries continue to be heavily dependent on coal, oil and gas, it has not yet been possible to make a clear commitment to phasing out fossil fuels at climate summits.
Can the energy transition work in Dubai?
Expectations in this area are muted, especially since the presidency shows little ambition in this regard. The host of the conference, Sultan al-Jaber, is also the head of the state oil company Adnoc, which is planning numerous new fossil fuel projects. “The goat has been turned into a gardener,” says Greenpeace boss Martin Kaiser. Instead, an ambitious new target for the expansion of renewable energies is to be agreed in Dubai. There is also a financial pot for damage and losses, and for the first time since Paris, an official inventory is on the agenda: Is the world on track to contain the crisis?
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Are the states on track?
No, they are far from that, as current analyzes show. According to the United Nations, instead of 1.5 degrees, the planet is currently heading towards almost three degrees by the end of the century – and only if all of the states’ promises are kept, which it doesn’t look like at the moment. A key question at COP28 will be how to close this gap.
Can climate change even be stopped?
Not to stop, but to limit. “Every tenth of a degree counts” is also the motto of UN climate chief Simon Stiell. Climate change is already causing more intense and longer heat waves, devastating floods, storms and droughts all over the world – even at around 1.2 degrees of warming. The hotter, the greater the climate damage.
How useful are the climate conferences?
Kowalzig, like many other experts, is of the opinion that the conferences achieve far too little, but without them things would look even worse. It is true that we are still a long way from the Paris goals. “But at least we are currently heading towards a warming of just under 3 degrees, ten years ago it looked like it would be over 4 degrees,” said Kowalzig. “We shouldn’t be satisfied with that, because even 2 degrees or 3 degrees mean huge upheavals in many countries, catastrophic crop damage, drowning island states, areas of land that will become uninhabitable in the long term – and the erosion of the livelihoods of billions of people.”
Can there be progress in climate protection despite numerous crises?
“How much political investment you can put into the climate process also depends on the other issues in the world situation,” says expert Kowalzig. At the same time, climate protection can also be a common denominator when people disagree on a lot of other things.
For example, the major climate polluters USA and China have recently sent positive signals: Shortly before the summit between US President Joe Biden and China’s head of state and party leader Xi Jinping, both countries committed to increased cooperation in the fight against global warming . The countries announced in mid-November that they wanted to strengthen this – the climate crisis was “one of the greatest challenges of our time”.
I have been working in the news industry for over 6 years, first as a reporter and now as an editor. I have covered politics extensively, and my work has appeared in major newspapers and online news outlets around the world. In addition to my writing, I also contribute regularly to 24 Hours World.