The 28th session of the Conference of the Parties number 28 (COP 28) to the UN Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC) will convene from 30 November to 12 December 2023. It will take place in the United Arab Emirates. The chairman of the conference is to be Sultan Ahmed al-Jaber, the CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil company. Yes, you read that right. The fox just got the job guarding the henhouse.
Sultan Al-Jaber’s company pumps about 4 million barrels of crude a day. They hope to expand to 5 million barrels a day, so they can generate even more of the heat-trapping carbon dioxide that the UN annual climate negotiations are trying to limit. I am reminded of the Republican-led Congress plan to investigate the people investigating them. The next COP isn’t only a joke, it’s an obscene joke.
Apparently, the 118th US Congress has serious competition for Clown Car Crash of 2023. Some genius somewhere decided that the best person to put in charge of saving the planet from fossil fuel companies is a fossil fuel guy. It’s kind of like putting Jeffrey Dahmer in charge of Thanksgiving.
The COP has already come under serious criticism. COP 27, held last November in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, was heavily criticised for grandstanding, “greenwashing” and for the numerous oil industry lobbyists in attendance. Perhaps they should complete the hypocrisy and hold COP 29 at ExxonMobil’s international headquarters in Irving, Texas. Republican governor Greg Abbott could serve as chairman.
The COPs have also justly come under recent criticism as a place for world leaders to gather (most arriving by private jet) so they can feel good about themselves. In other words, if anyone doubts their sincerity they can point to their faithful attendance at the latest COP conferences.
But as Greta Thunberg points out, “The people in power don’t need conferences, treaties or agreements to start taking real climate action. They can start today.” And therein lies the problem. Climate change gets a lot of lip service but too often insufficient action. What Greta also refers to as “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.”
Once again we learn (to our considerable dismay) that world leaders aren’t taking climate change seriously enough. I’m sure someone somewhere is having a good laugh about putting an oil exec in charge of this year’s COP. The message is clear that these people aren’t the ones to do it. To paraphrase George Clemenceau, climate change is too important to be left to politicians. It’s up to us. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.