When world leaders gather in Dubai starting on Thursday (30/11) for this year’s UN climate summit or COP28, the leaders of the world’s two largest economies will be absent from the conference.
US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping do not plan to attend the two-week event. COP28 aims to direct governments around the world to support the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 2015 Paris Agreement target of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
Both countries will send high-level representatives. Former US Secretary of State John Kerry, the Biden administration’s special envoy for climate change, will attend the event. China’s climate envoy, Xie Zhenhua, is also expected to attend.
One of the main issues discussed at the summit was the structure of a “loss and damage” fund aimed at compensating low-income countries, which suffer greatly from climate change, even though they have not contributed significantly to the causes of climate change.
Another important topic of discussion is the implementation of agreements to phase out the use of fossil fuels, which play the largest role in carbon emissions.
Discussions regarding fossil fuels may be complicated because the host country, the United Arab Emirates, is one of the largest oil and gas producers in the world.
UAE Oil Deal
In a development that could make this week’s conference in Dubai even more complicated, media organizations the Center for Climate Reporting and the British Broadcasting Corp., on Monday (27/11), revealed leaked documents that said the organizers of COP28 in the UAE has scheduled discussions on oil and gas development projects at the conference.
The decision to choose the UAE to host the conference itself was a controversial decision, especially after Sultan Ahmed Al-Jaber, group CEO of Abu Dhabi National Oil Co., was elected president of COP28.
The report released on Monday includes internal discussion points apparently prepared for Al-Jaber ahead of his meeting with representatives from various countries, including China, Colombia and Egypt. These points indicate the UAE’s willingness to build new fossil fuel projects.
According to the BBC, the conference organizers did not deny the allegations and declined to comment further. They simply replied that “secret meetings remain secret.”
While some activists were troubled by the decision to host the UAE this year’s climate conference, others said the revelation that there would be discussions on new fossil fuel projects could increase the chances of adopting fossil fuel phasing out language.
“We have been very clear about the boundaries of what we stand for, and with this latest report, we are even more aware of what is going on behind the scenes, which we all suspected but no one dared to say out loud,” said Cherelle Blazer, director of international climate policy at the Sierra Club, told VOA. “Given all the factors that are emerging, if there’s more clarity than usual, I think there’s a good chance.”
Blazer also said he wasn’t worried about Biden and Xi’s absence.
“A delegation from the Senate will be present at the conference. The negotiating team from the US will be present in full. Kerry will also be there. So, all parties who need to be present to make something happen will be at the conference,” he added. (ps/rs)