COP28: To Eliminate Fossil Fuels and Save the Planet

Author: Fr. Shay Cullen

Last Thursday, 30 November, over 160 world leaders opened the UN Climate Summit in Dubai called COP28. This is perhaps one of the most important of these annual events that bring the world together to avert a growing catastrophic disaster as ever increasing temperatures are heating up the planet. This change in the climate is causing growing disasters in every part of the globe. No nation is exempt from this crisis; everybody is being impacted negatively.

The other disaster is how few people in the world know about it or the causes of it. Many ordinary people, 8.1 billion of them, know little about what is happening around them when disasters strike or why. They suffer the impact and feel helpless to stop it as they are powerless.

We can see the evidence of this crisis before our eyes: more frequent and intense typhoons, storms and devastating floods lasting months in some countries. Then, there is no rainfall and droughts last for months or years; forest and bushfires rage across Europe, Russia, the United States, Australia and the Amazon. These disasters have destroyed millions of trees, plants and animals that once helped absorb CO2. The CO2 in the atmosphere is constantly increasing, and temperatures keep rising.

The rich nations at COP28 have agreed to pay compensation to the poor nations suffering disasters caused by climate change to prevent more tragedies like landslides and to build barriers to halt rising ocean levels, destruction of property, loss of animals and so on. It seems the environmentalists are losing the battle to stop the temperature from reaching a tipping point of 1.5 degrees. That could be a point of no return unless all CO2 is removed from the atmosphere and we stop burning fossil fuels.

The causes are rooted in the greed and profiteering of the giant oil corporations and government officials in cahoots with the industrial complex that allows and contributes to global warming. The policies and practices of the global oil, gas and coal industries, mostly in the Western countries like the US, UK, EU, China, India, Australia, and South American countries, are mostly increasing production and not reducing as they promised to do at previous COP meetings.

Phasing out oil and gas drilling, closing coal mines and shutting down fossil fuel powered-electricity generation plants is an economic disaster for the oil, coal and gas industries. This is if they have not invested in renewable, emission-free CO2 electricity generation alternatives like wind and solar power, hydro and geothermal, and tide and wave power generation.

The industrial burning of fossil fuels to produce electricity by burning coal, gas and oil in plants and vehicles is controlled by the financial industry. These are controlled by powerful money moguls, captains of industry, kings of Wall Street, the oligarchs of oil corporations and corrupt government officials who all go to bed dreaming of the billions of dollars they earned. They wake up from the happy dream, ready to fight to save the age of oil and their massive profits. They earned revenues of 5 trillion dollars in 2022 alone. They fear the encroaching age of renewables and impede its growth. They have only invested a miserly one percent of renewables worldwide.

The leaders in the fossil fuel industries work together in an effort to keep on drilling, selling and burning fossil fuels and slow down the phase-out of these lucrative sources of revenue. In fact, many government officials are in cahoots with the corporate leaders of the oil industry that continue the deal by giving cash payments as subsidies in exchange for drilling permits to help them explore for more oil on the side. Meanwhile, the oil moguls and oligarchs (I call them “oili-garcs”) donate money to the politician’s reelection campaigns.

One of many examples emerged recently of this two-faced attitude when the United Kingdom government issued permits to oil corporations to explore for oil in the North Sea while claiming that they are striving to reduce CO2 and meeting the goal of COP28 while violating that goal at the same time. They claim they are racing horses in the race to fight climate change, but in truth, they are crawling turtles.

The growing volume of CO2, methane, and other industrial greenhouse gases are causing global warming. The higher temperature, the highest ever in history, is changing the entire planet. The greatest tragedy besides the extinction of thousands of plants and animals and environmental disasters is the apathy and lack of alarm and real concern by some of the rich and powerful nations. Their resistance to the phase-out of fossil fuels is pathetic and brings more disasters to the poor.

Paltry pay-outs of compensation are a form of climate justice, but preventing the rise in global temperatures, which are the highest in living memory in hundreds of thousands of years, is the most important of all.

Will COP28 achieve progress in convincing or pressuring the industrial nations to relent and go all out to replace fossil fuels with alternative renewable sources of electricity? That has been thrown into question since COP28 is being hosted by Sultan Al Jaber of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), who is chairman of the COP28 talks and is also the head of UAE’s powerful state oil company, ANDOC.

The UAE’s team has plans to use the climate conference to make all kinds of business deals involving funding the expansion of oil drilling and gas sales with at least 15 countries. According to a report by the BBC, one proposal was a deal with China to develop gas exploration opportunities in Mozambique, Canada and Australia. Another proposal is to advise the Columbian Minister that UAE’s state oil company is ready to help Columbia “develop its fuel resources.”

How ironic and contradictory for possible dealings like these to be going on during the summit that aims to reduce gas and oil production for the head to be promoting them. It just confirms the collaboration of some governments and oil companies to thwart the goals, aims, and hopes of so many for a solution to climate change and the prevention of greater negative consequences for the planet.

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