Confusing week of climate-focused talks leads to more questions than answers

by ian


The UN Climate Change Conference known as Cop28 continued over the weekend as international communities try to highlight the ongoing effort to combat climate change. The U.S. made headlines as it pledged support to various climate initiatives.

For instance, U.S. climate envoy John Kerry reaffirmed President Je Biden’s recent commitment to shutter coal plants “all across America.” In a statement from Saturday, Kerry committed to banning future coal plant construction and the phase-out of existing plants without providing a specific timeline.

Kerry wrote that the goal is to have “100 percent carbon pollution-free electricity by 2035.”

In addition, Vice President Kamala Harris also announced during a speech that the U.S. has pledged $3 billion for the Green Climate Fund, which is aimed at eliminating fossil fuel usage in developing nations.

In his speech, Kerry brought the conversation around to why the government is going after these initiatives – worries around record-high temperatures.

Both Kerry and Harris called for global cooperation on the climate change matter and cited a broader UN goal to prevent the earth from warming more than 1.5 degrees Celsius by the year 2100.

This was cemented back in 2015 under the Paris Agreement and requires a near-global cessation of fossil fuel burning. But the endeavor has become a recent controversy, one involving the president of Cop28.

Sultan Al Jaber of the United Arab Emirates told a panel group on Nov. 21 that there is “no science” to indicate that phasing out fossil fuels will lead to the 1.5 degrees Celsius goal. He later added that it would not do much for the world except take it “back into caves.”

Al Jaber’s comments were widely panned by world leaders and scientists, all of whom said he is on the verge of being a “climate denier.” Al Jaber has recently said his quotes were taken “out of context” and that he listens to and backs climate science in all forms.

Oddly, though, his comments point out an ironic fact: much of the developed world is looking to phase out fossil fuel use despite being the most aggressive users of the fuel.

China, which already accounts for nearly 27% of total global emissions, unleashed a massive expansion of coal power generation in 2022. Yet, China touts itself as one of the biggest countries to promote the climate change initiative.

As for the U.S., despite its claims of moving forward from using fossil fuel, the nation continues to purchase millions of barrels of oil from other nations while the Biden administration denies approvals for at-home drilling projects.