The script for the annual two-week Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP) is an open secret. Fly in; sound the alarm; enjoy the opulence; plead and cajole; go into overtime; trumpet a last-minute breakthrough.
Don’t talk about unsettled climate science or the positives of carbon dioxide, from global greening to warmer winters. Don’t mention consumers, taxpayers, or fiscal discipline. Pretend that the current world energy crisis is a bump in the road. No backtracking! And perhaps most of all, be optimistic and make plans for COP28 next year in the United Arab Emirates.
This is the official line. But many activists are losing patience with the party of Parties. Here are some samplings from the true believers.
Andrew Griffiths, Director of Community & Partnerships, PlanetMark:
Copying and pasting the Glasgow COP26 agreements on climate mitigation is equivalent to standing still on a treadmill…. [T]his agreement currently represents an empty bucket, and the detail of who should fill it, with how much money, then how the funds should be distributed and to whom are pretty substantial features to be ironed out [w]hen we haven’t even lived up to our 2009 commitment to provide $100B per year….
“We lose ground for every year that slips by without meaningful action because the climate crisis finish line moves further into the distance, requiring ever greater efforts to reach,” Griffiths added. “The fact that delegations had to fight tooth and nail to even keep the climate mitigation commitments agreed in Glasgow in effect is extremely disappointing.”
Assaad Razzouk, “the angry clean energy guy”:
#COP27 will be remembered as the year fossil fuels hijacked the UN climate talks: attendees connected to the oil & gas industry were everywhere, turning COP27 into a fossil fuel fair. The COPs have become obsolete.
Luis López Lemus, Systems Ecologist:
While the US has agreed to pay $1 billion dollars in climate reparations to poorer nations, China, by far the world’s largest emitter, will pay nothing —that’s a true litmus test as these policies have absolutely nothing to do with the environment… it’s just wealth redistribution!
Alessandra Lehmen, “world on fire” climate lawyer:
COP27’s slogan, “Together for implementation” set the tone for what was expected to be a “show me the money” conference. It didn’t quite deliver….
Fossil fuel “phase-down” from Glasgow – already watered down from “phase-out” – was again watered down to “low-emission and renewable energy,” opening the door to, e.g., natural gas…. Stalled advances on …Glasgow’s Mitigation Work Program (MWP); lack of concrete action towards Paris’ 1.5 degree goal.
Rob Cameron, Global Head of Public Affairs and ESG Engagement, Nestlé
There are cheers for the fact that there IS a Loss and Damage agreement… BUT… deserved boos for the lack of progress on mitigation. Indeed, whilst the #1.5 degree limit … is still there, Glasgow’s text has been adapted and hopes of remaining within that limit are weakening.
Greta did not attend COP27, to her credit. But her angst against COP threatens a Civil War within the movement. Consider this take from a self-described Climate Justice Policy Specialist:
COP 27 has all the characteristics of the bloated, elitist and ineffectual process detractors wish to portray it as:
Wealthy people from around the world fly into an eyewateringly (prohibitively) expensive resort under an oppressive regime beset with human rights issues. Once there, they take part in glitzy corporate events or well-intentioned but procedurally insignificant side events. All this distracts from the main purpose – the negotiation of the global response to the climate crisis – which is stymied by bad faith actors and broken promises, away from the eyes of the majority of the 40,000 attendees.
It is a circus, it looks bad and it undermines public trust. The extravagant pavilions and wine receptions are a far cry from the lives of people living in poverty, or struggling under the cost of living crisis or the impacts of climate change. The increasing corporate capture serves to underscore the lack of representation for working class communities. The ease of access for fossil fuel companies, as emissions continue to rise, undermines the sincerity of the work in the eyes of the public.
Seán McCabe recommends “more humble settings,” far less private-sector participation, and “ending the ‘World Fair’ element of COP.” He also floats an eerie suggestion: “Fossil fuel actors should be prohibited or provided a unique badge colour.”
The Guardian (UK) declares “World still ‘on brink of climate catastrophe’ after COP27 deal.” This refrain, now in its fourth decade, is at odds with the official statistics about temperature and weather extremes—and the bottom line of climate-related deaths. Climate/CO2 optimism is merited to end the open-ended government forays against affordable, reliable energy.
The annual COP meetings should be allowed to die for lack of progress. But if there is a COP28, the theme of the conference should be Reconsidering Climate Alarmism and Forced Energy Transformation. Set up an array of debates. Question authority. Prepare for new conclusions. Make mid-course corrections—even wholesale reversals. Yes, that time has come after decades of futile, costly activism.