Cop28 and the fight to reach the Paris Agreement climate goals

Al Gore says fossil fuel industry has 'captured' the UN climate talks agenda

Climate change
Global emissions have not been reduced enough to meet the goal of limiting temperature rise to 1.5C by 2030, according to a UN report
(Image credit: Getty Images/Chris Conway)

A UN report on progress towards the long-term goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement is expected to drive the debate at Cop28.

A "global stocktake" on the progress of the Paris climate deal produced 17 key findings, "all leading to the conclusion that more action must be taken to mitigate the effects of climate change" and meet the "long-term goals" agreed eight years ago, said Forbes.

Sultan Al Jaber, who will preside over the Cop28 summit that begins in Dubai on 30 November, said: "The world is losing the race to secure the goals of the Paris Agreement and the world is struggling to keep 1.5 within reach," said EuroNews.

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What does the stocktake say?

The UN report stated that although the Paris Agreement has "driven global climate change action through goals", countries "must rapidly accelerate action and support", said Forbes.

Global emissions have not been reduced enough to meet the goal of limiting temperature rise to 1.5C by 2030, warned the report, and countries need to aggressively focus on domestic mitigation efforts through policymaking.

It also called for a scaling up of renewable energy, reforms at local level, a rapid increase in funding made available for resiliency and green projects, and a scaling back of fossil fuels and ending deforestation.

What about fossil fuels?

Fossil fuels, which are coal, oil and gas, are expected to be high on the agenda in Dubai. A "global push" to commit to phasing out fossil fuels is "gathering new momentum" ahead of the conference, said The Observer, despite "stiff opposition" from oil-producing countries.

The campaign has had an "unexpected boost" in the "fine print" of the UN draft report, it said, which recommended "transformations across all sectors and contexts, including scaling up renewable energy while phasing out all unabated fossil fuels". Experts said these words in a key UN document would have a "galvanising effect on the talks".

MPs have urged Rishi Sunak to do more than "just turn up" when he attends Cop28, reported The Independent. Chris Skidmore, a former Tory energy minister, said the UK "must show it's a serious, trusted partner in these discussions by joining our international allies in calling for an end to the fossil fuel era".

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas said that unless Sunak "supports our allies by championing an urgent and fair global phase-out of fossil fuels" then attending this summit amounts to "nothing more than gesture politics".

What problems could there be?

The climate campaigner and former US vice-president Al Gore has criticised what he called the fossil fuel industry's "capture" of global UN negotiations on climate change "to a disturbing degree", said the Financial Times.

This includes "putting the CEO of one of the largest oil companies in the world in as president of COP28”, referring to the appointment as president of Al Jaber, chief executive of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company. 

Also, more than 200 civil society groups have written to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and all participating governments with a string of demands concerning the Gulf nation's human rights record, said Reuters.

The UAE has defined a "narrow list of talking points" for its officials around climate issues and is "aiming to avoid discussion of human rights abuses in the country", said Amnesty International.

The UAE's priority for Cop28 "appears to be greenwashing its fossil fuel expansion plans and massaging its own reputation by seeking to avoid discussion of its dismal human rights record and continuing abuses", Amnesty's Marta Schaaf said. 

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Chas Newkey-Burden has been part of The Week Digital team for more than a decade and a journalist for 25 years, starting out on the irreverent football weekly 90 Minutes, before moving to lifestyle magazines Loaded and Attitude. He was a columnist for The Big Issue and landed a world exclusive with David Beckham that became the weekly magazine’s bestselling issue. He now writes regularly for The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Independent, Metro, FourFourTwo and the i new site. He is also the author of a number of non-fiction books.