Opinion

COP28, between disappointment and taking far-reaching measures

PHOTO/PIXABAY - Dubai destaca económicamente en los EAU
photo_camera PHOTO/PIXABAY - Dubai stands out economically in UAE

At the last climate summits in Glasgow and Sharm el-Sheikh, the international community was unable to reach credible and realistic targets: no figures and no deadlines, closing itself off to the promise of the countries represented to make greater commitments in terms of mitigation of harmful emissions and financing to help the least favoured countries compensate for their hypothetical refusal to develop by polluting. The new summit, which takes place in Dubai from 30 November, will have even less room to resolve the increasingly pressing dilemma: continue with the dodges and procrastination that allow the planet's steep temperature rises through greenhouse gases, or take the drastic decisions that are needed at once.  

As the main polluting fuel, the fact that the meeting is being held in a major oil-producing country and that the president of the summit is Sultan A-Jaber, Minister of Technology and Innovation of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and head of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, could facilitate the conclusion of a firm agreement to halt the brutal increase in global warming recorded in recent years. However, it is also undeniable that almost all environmental organisations, as well as civil society in countries that demand their right to development, are undeniably distrustful, implicitly arguing that it is not they who are to blame for the greatest challenge facing the planet as a whole, but the major industrial powers that have achieved their current level of wealth and development through relentless pollution over the last century and a half.  

In this vindictive line, Brazil will present the most original and risky idea in terms of costs: the creation of a fund to help preserve the tropical forests and rainforests that still exist in some thirty countries around the world. Luiz Inácio Silva da Silva, the country's president, will present his ambitious project, which will consist of a payment mechanism per hectare of tropical forest still standing. Financed by a multilateral financial institution, Lula intends to make such a fund a sufficiently convincing asset for the governments of the countries concerned to put an end to the systematic felling of tropical trees.  

Announced by Brazilian Environment Minister Marina Silva, the proposal's main focus is once again on "the compensation that industrialised countries must assume for their responsibility for pollution and deforestation, so that this financing contributes to preserving what is left and even to favouring a return to the growth of these tropical forests".  

Lula will present himself at the summit with figures that would show that Brazil has halted the abrupt deforestation of the Amazon rainforest in the first year of his term in office. According to the Climate Observatory's annual report, Brazil would have emitted 9.4 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere during the period 2019-2022, the four years that coincide with Jair Bolsonaro's presidency, even though in the last of those years the country's emissions had fallen by 8%.  

Brazil's current president will also show that the traditional hostility between conservationists and cattle ranchers who burn the forest to make way for pastures can be overcome by rehabilitating areas of the country that used to have large expanses of pastureland and are now degraded, but which have great potential for different crops. Thus, according to the Ministry of Agriculture in Brasilia, in ten years the country will increase its arable land from the current 65 million hectares to 105 million hectares, with an investment of some 115 billion euros. And, obviously, Lula wants this architecture and this money to be paid for by the most industrialised powers.  

On the EU side, Climate Commissioner and COP28 lead negotiator Wopke Hoekstra is convinced that the summit must accelerate practical action on mitigation, adaptation, loss and damage and climate finance, while promoting a COP28 that leaves no one behind. Goals that Sultan Al Jaber says he shares, while urging the finalisation of the first global stocktaking under the Paris Agreement. This should be a turning point for climate action in this decade, crucial to finally shape action to continue to inhabit and enjoy the only planet we still have to live on.