At Cop28 it feels as if humanity’s shared lifeboat is sinking. There are only hours left to act

(The Guardian, 12 Dec 2023) Leaders and activists must fight to the end in Dubai to stop vested interests sabotaging progress on fossil fuel phase-out and adaptation.

As Cop28 in Dubai enters its final hours, the emotional weight of the moment is hard to bear. I find myself thinking of a six-year-old boy called Desmond I met in Turkana county, Kenya, who died from severe acute malnutrition on the same day. His death was the result of a climate-induced drought that has left millions of people on the brink of starvation in the Horn of Africa.

I want the negotiators deciding the outcome of Cop28 to know Desmond’s story. Because in the end, the climate crisis is not about pledges, statistics, reports or activists. It’s about human suffering and ruined lives. It’s about death.

Right now in Dubai, the world’s countries are negotiating what to do about fossil fuels. Some governments, such as those from small-island nations, are leading the push. Some, including the likes of Saudi Arabia, are blocking any meaningful progress.

Over the weekend, there was a glimmer of hope. It looked like an agreement on phasing out all fossil fuels might just be possible. However, the latest draft of the global stocktake, released on Monday, showed a text that has been gutted of all references to oil or gas. References to “phasing out fossil fuels” have also been obliterated. The weak fossil-fuel cuts it does refer to are now presented as optional for countries – using the word “could” rather than “must”. There is also no mention of the need for developed countries to help finance the energy transition in developing countries.

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The Guardian, 12 Dec 2023: At Cop28 it feels as if humanity’s shared lifeboat is sinking. There are only hours left to act