Deep dive: A big year for climate negotiations… or not?

Deep dive: A big year for climate negotiations… or not?

Deep dive: A big year for climate negotiations… or not? Today, we dig into the major tensions building in climate negotiations in the lead-up to the 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP 28, which starts in late November.

Summer used to be a time of joy. Now, each passing July in the Northern Hemisphere seems to bring with it ever more extreme heat waves and wildfires. And this year had a further dose of dire warnings about Antarctic sea ice and the fate of the Gulf Stream current. The effects of climate change are expected to be bad enough in advanced economies. But the consequences in low-income countries are feared to be much worse.

There’s a heightened concern among climate watchers. They fear that if the extreme weather experienced in Europe, Asia, and North America this summer doesn’t accelerate the political momentum needed to progress climate talks, nothing will. The year 2023 is an especially big year because of COP 28. This will see the first global stocktake—a review of where the world is on climate change—that campaigners hope will be a galvanizing political moment.

Deep dive: A big year for climate negotiations… or not?

But optimism for COP 28 is hard to find. This is partly because of the increasingly difficult global forces straining multilateralism. Fragmented geopolitics and great power competition, economic crises, and debt crises. And increasing insecurity and uncertainty are not ideal conditions to reach a sensitive agreement by consensus or for politicians to think long term.

There have also been worries about the credibility of the incoming COP host, the United Arab Emirates. This has been happening ever since the Gulf state was announced as the successor to Egypt. The UAE is a major fossil fuel producer and exporter. It has plans to drill even more. And its oil and gas industry accounts for around 30% of the country’s gross domestic product, according to the U.S. International Trade Administration.

In February, the UAE was described as a “deeply repressive petrostate” by Human Rights Watch. The watchdog captured the concerns of many climate campaigners when it warned that COP 28 was “a means of burnishing [the government’s] image while continuing to push the expansion of fossil fuels, undermining efforts to confront the climate crisis and protect human rights.” Similar to COP 27 in Egypt, there are worries about the safe participation of climate activists, who tend to enjoy a good protest.

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