What are the “sultan” of oil and the Pope doing at the climate conference?

Over the years, the United Nations Climate Conference has become the “Place to Be” on the global political calendar due to increasing issues surrounding climate change. Approximately 70 thousand people, including diplomats, company executives, heads of government and activists, are expected to be at Expo City. But there will be some notable absences: US President Joe Biden has opted to send John Kerry, who helped Barack Obama secure the Paris Agreement, which remains the most important global commitment to limit temperature rise. Chinese President Xi Jinping is also noticeably absent and will send his envoy, Xie Zhenhua. The leaders of the two states, which are among the main responsible for carbon dioxide emissions, will therefore be missing. The many headliners in Dubai include controversial figures such as oilman Ahmed Al Jaber and other unexpected attendees such as Pope Francis.

Oilman passionate about renewable energy

The grand master of ceremonies for this Cop28 is Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, CEO of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) and chairman of Gulf renewable energy giant Masdar. He was seen by his critics as the least suitable person to lead a climate conference, with Greta Thunberg calling him “ridiculous” in the role. In the program officially presented for this summit, the aim was to persuade energy companies to significantly reduce methane emissions (as well as the result of losses and inefficiencies) by 2030 and to comply with carbon neutrality targets by 2050. Twenty companies have already agreed to these goals, Sultan said, but promises must be fulfilled with concrete agreements in Dubai. Just five days ago, documents were leaked showing that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) plans to use its position hosting climate talks to discuss oil and gas deals with more than a dozen countries. The Climate Reporting Center has published briefing notes prepared by the COP28 team, revealing discussions carried out by Emirati state-owned oil and renewable energy companies. An unconvincing business card.

The other person who has attracted criticism and surprise is the European Union’s representative on the climate issue. Dutch Wopke Hoekstra managed to overcome the resistance of the European Parliament by taking on the role previously held by his compatriot Frans Timmermans in October. Unlike the former Green Deal guru, Hoekstra is not highly regarded in environmental circles. The EU’s new climate action commissioner, a former Shell employee and Conservative Finance Minister, will head to Dubai after just two months in the job. He has promised to achieve ambitious targets after 2030 and has sought to take a tougher line against fossil fuels than the mandate European governments have given him.

A woman against inequalities

Another important voice could be that of Senegalese Madeleine Diouf Sarr, who represents the bloc of least developed countries to which more than half of Africa and the Pacific islands belong. Along with the role of women in these negotiations, the focus will be on highlighting the inequalities exacerbated by climate change and the importance of receiving compensation funds promised by the richest and most polluting states as soon as possible. In setting out COP28’s priorities, Diouf Sarr recalled that the least developed countries “are the ones suffering the greatest costs of the climate crisis, even though they are home to more than 14% of the world’s population but use only 1% of emissions.” Next to him in the meeting with other ministers we can find Brazilian President Luis Ignacio da Lula, who vowed to protect the Amazon from the brutal deforestation it suffered during the tenure of his predecessor Jair Bolsonaro. The collapse of the world’s primary forests, which are responsible for absorbing CO2, would be catastrophic. But Brazil is increasing production from its main oil and gas reserves to support its economic growth. Therefore, Lula’s commitment to ending fossil fuels needs to be confirmed.

philanthropic investor

The climate summit is a place for political discussions, but also a trade fair for doing business. Among the major business leaders present in Dubai, the name of Bill Gates, who will be present in a dual capacity, stands out. On the one hand, that of a philanthropist who encourages governments to achieve more ambitious targets so that they can allocate funds to the poorest populations in the world struggling with extreme weather conditions such as droughts and floods. On the other side, that of one of the richest men in the world and an investor. Through his Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Gates wants to profit from the energy transition through his stakes in companies and technologies that can contribute to the fight against climate change.

A priest for the climate

Another expected presence is the presence of Pope Francis. For the first time, a priest will attend the United Nations climate summit. Bergoglio put climate change on the agenda of the Catholic Church by publishing it as early as 2015 Laudato yesimportant papal encyclical in which he invokes ethics on pro-climate action. Release date is 2023 Laudato DeumIt is an invitation to recognize the natural and ethical limits of economic and technological development. First of all, to realize everyone’s true responsibilities. “As always, everything seems to be the fault of the poor. But the reality is that a lower, richer percentage of the planet pollutes more than the poorest 50% of the total world population, and emissions per capita are also rising. The richest countries are It is much larger than the poorest countries,” we read at the beginning of his last article on the environment. Bergoglio’s speech will be held on December 2, when he will try to shake the pillars of Dubai skyscrapers, where giant appearances and pollution reign.

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Source: Today IT