Clock ticks on Cop28 as divisions continue

Dr Sultan Al Jaber not satisfied with the speed and pace of talks

Climate negotiations being held at Expo City Dubai will soon draw to a close. AP
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Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Cop28 President, said he was not satisfied with the speed and pace of talks despite the fact good progress had been made.

Speaking to reporters on Sunday, Dr Al Jaber said the clock was ticking, and parties needed to move faster and “break out of silos”.

Dr Al Jaber spoke before a special majlis of ministers and heads of delegation – something new for a Cop – to try to break the deadlock.

Less than 48 hrs to go

The future of fossil fuels and scaling up climate finance are among the key issues yet to be agreed at the crucial talks that are scheduled to end at 11am on Tuesday.

“We are making good progress,” said Dr Al Jaber. “Am I satisfied with the speed and the pace? No.”

The majlis that followed outlined the deep divisions that still exist among the close to 200 parties at the Cop28 summit.

It heard particularly impassioned calls from developing and small island states for urgent action. Toeolesulusulu Cedric Schuster, Samoa’s Minister of Natural Resources, Environment and Lands appealed for everyone to do “what is right”.

“I don’t want to go back and say to [people] whose homes are being lost that I sat around in a circle with leaders and we couldn’t come up with the right mechanism to help,” said Mr Schuster, who is also the chair of the Alliance of Small Island States. “I appeal for everyone to do what is right not just for your country but the world.”

Division among representatives

A representative for Bolivia talked of “hypocrisy, lies, ignorance from many countries around the world”, which he said were pushing poorer nations to decarbonise while following “business as usual” themselves.

Eamon Ryan, Ireland’s Climate Minister, said climate was the “peace project of our time” while the representative from Bangladesh spoke about the need to walk in each other's shoes.

Graham Stuart, the UK’s Minister of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, told the majlis the UK’s position was to see phasing out of fossil fuels but they were flexible on language, while Australia's speaker said fossil fuels did not have a long term future and they were “not going to see our brothers and sisters inundated, we stand with them”, referring to island states.

With just a few days left for a deal, the pressure at Cop28 is on with the presidency working day and night to bridge the gaps and try to agree on ways forward to enable a final deal.

An agreement by the world's nearly 200 countries to end the use of fossil fuels – the primary driver of climate change – has emerged as the defining issue.

“The presidency has done step one by including fossil fuel phase-out language options in the negotiations,” said Lisa Fletcher, climate expert at the E3G think tank. “But its job is not done here.”

Reducing agriculture emissions

Sunday, meanwhile, also marked the final themed day of the Cop28 schedule with a focus on food, agriculture and water.

Halving food waste and a 25 per cent cut in livestock-produced methane emissions are key elements of a new UN blueprint addressing global hunger caused by climate change.

Farming is a major source of greenhouse emissions, with the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation calling for a rebalancing of food systems to preserve a third of global food at risk from climate change.

“The FAO is ready to offer support to upscale sustainable practices, improve strategic policies and actions, provide technical support and leverage financing,” said its director general Dr Qu Dongyu.

A list of 20 targets laid down in a document published during Cop28 aim to be achieved before 2050. However, few details were given on how food production could be curbed and the nutritional needs of a global population expected to reach 10 billion could also be met.

The final two days of Cop, Monday and Tuesday, will now be taken up with the final negotiations.

Updated: December 11, 2023, 6:48 AM