Experts stated that the Earth’s temperature will experience significantly less increase than initially predicted ten years ago. However, this positive development is overshadowed by the greater negative effects of present-day climate change, which were underestimated by scientists.
This is one of several conflicting situations that climate negotiators will confront as they convene in Dubai for lengthy United Nations discussions. The agenda includes an inaugural evaluation of the world’s progress in combatting global warming. Despite this, the conference will also address the question of whether to gradually eliminate the use of fossil fuels, even though it is being organized by the CEO of an oil corporation.
The main focus of the session is the initial “worldwide evaluation” of climate, where nations assess the progress made since the 2015 Paris agreement on climate change, identify any deviations from the intended path, and propose solutions to get back on track.
Although the emission of gases that trap heat is increasing annually, the rate of increase is slower than predicted from 2000 to 2015. Prior to the Paris agreement, experts at Climate Action Tracker and the United Nations Environment Programme estimated a temperature rise of approximately 3.5 degrees Celsius (6.3 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels due to the amount of carbon dioxide being released and the proposed actions to address it.
Niklas Hohne, a scientist at the NewClimate Institute who is involved with Climate Action Tracker, stated that the previously suggested 3.5 degree increase is no longer a possibility. He instead suggests a lower number of 2.7 degrees (equivalent to 4.9 degrees Fahrenheit) and believes it could be even lower with pledges and net zero targets.
The Emissions Gap forecasted by UNEP is between 2.5 and 2.9 degrees Celsius (4.5 to 5.2 degrees Fahrenheit), while the overall target is 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit).
According to Bill Hare, CEO of Climate Analytics and contributor to Climate Action Tracker, countries have made promises and taken initial steps towards reducing emissions, but these reductions have not yet been implemented.
According to Stanford University climate scientist Rob Jackson, the current state of things may not be as dire as we feared 20 years ago, but it is still far from where we should be. Jackson leads a team of scientists who monitor global emissions on an annual basis through the Global Carbon Project.
According to World Resources Institute CEO Ani Dasgupta, when considering the effects of a mere 1.1 degrees Celsius (2 degrees Fahrenheit) of warming, equivalent to what the world has already experienced, he is compelled to express the disproportionate and unjust devastation caused.
Dasgupta stated that it is impossible for anyone with even a fraction of intelligence to be content with our current situation.
For many years, scientists did not fully understand the extent of harm that even slight warming could cause, according to multiple scientists. They also stated that the negative effects we are currently experiencing are much greater than any potential benefits from efforts to decrease future warming.
Hare cites over 60,000 fatalities due to heat in Europe in 2022. On the other hand, some mention thousands of casualties from floods in Pakistan and Libya.
According to Anne Olhoff, lead author of the UNEP Emissions Gap report, as our knowledge increases, we are seeing more significant effects at lower temperature changes. The rate and severity of these impacts are much greater than previously anticipated.
Jackson expressed concern about the current state of the world, stating that the damage being observed is more alarming to him than anything else. He believes that the weather patterns are becoming increasingly unstable and there is no indication that this trend will cease.
According to experts, the main factor contributing to emissions is the use of fossil fuels.
Melanie Robinson, climate director for World Resources Institute, believes that the crucial role of fossil fuels will be highlighted at the Dubai negotiations, also known as COP (conference of parties).
As they enter negotiations, global leaders have boasted about potential deals to increase renewable energy usage by three times and double energy efficiency. However, according to Johan Rockstrom, the director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Research, this is insufficient.
According to United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, addressing the climate crisis involves removing the toxic source: fossil fuels.
According to Guterres, many climate experts and environmental advocates agree that a reduction or gradual elimination of coal, oil, and gas is necessary.
The negotiations are led and the president is chosen by the host country, the United Arab Emirates, which is an oil-producing nation. The conference president has been named as Sultan al-Jaber, CEO of ADNOC oil company and also a leader in renewable energy. Al-Jaber and his team believe that having fossil fuel companies involved in the discussions can lead to more effective action and that someone within the industry may be necessary to secure the necessary concessions.
Environmental activists are skeptical.
Greta Thunberg, a youth environmental activist, expressed distrust towards politicians and the COP processes due to the influence of fossil fuel industries on the decision-making and outcomes.
According to Adnan Amir, the second highest official for climate talks in the UAE, due to the rules set by the COP, the decision-making process regarding fossil fuels must be agreed upon unanimously by all involved parties or nations. This makes it highly unlikely that a complete phase-out of fossil fuels will be reached, but a gradual decrease in their use is inevitable.
“The language used to discuss fossil fuels has sparked diverse opinions among various groups. The success of our efforts will depend on finding the appropriate wording,” stated Majid Al Suwaidi, Director-General of COP28. “Despite differing views, there is a shared sentiment among parties. The current dialogue regarding fossil fuels is significantly more aligned compared to previous discussions.”
According to Hohne of the New Climate Institute, a discontinuation is necessary, but he doubts that Al Jaber will permit it. “Essentially, he would have to acknowledge that the foundation of his company’s business model would be eradicated.”
Hohne, Hare, Dasgupta, and other researchers are concerned about the excessive promotion of carbon capture and storage by al-Jaber and others. They believe that this technology has not yet been proven effective and worry that the outcome of climate talks may give the false impression of significant progress being made.
Hohne expressed concern that the negotiations may result in greenwashing, appearing positive but not yielding significant results.
Those advocating for change, including representatives from the United Nations, are expressing concern over countries that claim to be making strides towards decreasing coal usage and promoting renewable energy, while simultaneously approving new oil and gas drilling projects. This is especially concerning in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
According to a study from the Center for Biological Diversity, the proposed Inflation Reduction Act under the Biden Administration aims to decrease carbon emissions by almost 1 billion metric tons by 2030. However, the approval of 17 oil and gas projects would result in an additional 1.6 billion metric tons of emissions.
According to UNEP Director Inger Andersen, it is inconsistent for governments to promise to reduce emissions as part of the Paris Agreement while simultaneously approving large-scale fossil fuel initiatives. This raises concerns about the progress of the global energy transition and the future of humanity.
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