Did The COP28 Global Climate Summit Do More Harm Than Good?

By: Michael Kraten, PhD, CPA

A person with a severe case of diabetes visits his physician. “Doctor,” he says, “I constantly feel tired and thirsty. I am also losing weight. What is wrong?”

The physician replies, “What is wrong? You have diabetes! It sounds like you are eating too much sugar. What did you have for lunch today?”

“Three doughnuts and a jumbo-sized cola.” The physician rolls his eyes. “You need to transform your diet right now. Stop eating sugar; eat vegetables instead.”

“Vegetables? I will start eating them, but I cannot stop eating sweets.” Eventually, they reach an agreement.

The diabetic will begin to “transition away” from sugary foods; however, he makes no promises and sets no concrete deadlines to do so. After much haggling, he also agrees to triple his current vegetable intake by the year 2030.

Each individual leaves the conversation with a sinking feeling that he wasted his time. The physician thinks “This patient will never change his behavior. And I have no means to track his food intake, much less modify his diet.” Meanwhile, the diabetic thinks “He certainly did not persuade me that I am anywhere near death. For all we know, the invention of a pill that will make me feel better may be right around the corner.”

Sound familiar? This conversation might compel you to recall the negotiations at last month’s COP28 global climate Summit in Dubai. The parties agreed in principle that carbon emissions are too high. However, they do not agree on how, when, or by how much to reduce them.

That infuriated former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, who tweeted that “COP28 is now on the verge of complete failure … to prevent COP28 from being the most embarrassing and dismal failure in 28 years of international climate negotiations, the final text must include clear language on phasing out fossil fuels.”

Did his viewpoint prevail? Not really. The representatives did agree in principle to “transition away” from fossil fuels. They also agreed to “triple the capacity of renewable energy” by the year 2030. However, like a diabetic’s promise to change his diet “eventually,” the Summit’s closing agreement left no one satisfied about the outcome.

Even Gore voiced mixed feelings about it. In a formal post-Summit statement, he noted that “The decision at COP 28 (is) the bare minimum we need and is long overdue … It is up to all of us to hold our leaders accountable to their promise to transition away from fossil fuels once and for all.”

Ironically, given that more than 60,000 people attended various activities that were associated with the Summit, the amount of carbon that was emitted to transport them to the event may have exceeded the carbon reductions that will eventually result from its final agreement. Is it possible that the Summit itself did more harm than good?

An earlier version was published at michaelkraten.blogspot.com. All rights reserved by author.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *