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COP28 and Fossil Fuels

COP28 poster with a dark green background and a light green Earth outline
Author: Samuel Beckingham
Updated: Nov 08, 2023
4 minutes read

What Is COP28 and Where Is It Being Held?

The 28th UN Climate Summit, COP28, is being hosted by the United Arab Emirates in Dubai. Plenty of controversy has been cast over the conference, not least because of how the UAE is a world-leading oil producer, but also because one of the executives of these oil companies has been elected president of the COP28 talks.

Fossil Fuel Companies at COP

There has been an upward trend of fossil fuel lobbyists attending COP meetings for many years now. At the previous meeting, there were 636 of them in Egypt, which was an increase of over 25% on the year before. The staggering numbers dwarfed any other communities attending, presenting massive hypocrisy about the purpose of the conference in the first place. It’s widely expected that a higher percentage will attend COP28.

Topics of Discussion

Despite the controversies and the lobbying by fossil fuel companies, it is anticipated that the Paris Agreement will be discussed at length, with measures to be implemented that will help hit these goals. In a pre-COP meeting held in Abu Dhabi, groundwork was laid for the idea to triple renewable power and double energy efficiency by 2030. These measures were stipulated to help avoid exceeding global temperatures rising above 1.5°C.

With a massive push for renewable infrastructure, such as wind and solar power, it’s believed that around 1,000GW needs to be installed between now and 2030. This means that the renewable share of power production would leap up over 40%, then accounting for around 70% of power capacity.

“Our mission is as clear as it is urgent: We need concerted action to triple renewable power capacity by 2030. This includes urgently addressing deeply entrenched systematic barriers across infrastructure, policy and institutional capacities stemming from the fossil-fuel era.”

Francesco La Camera – IRENA Director-General

BP Controversy

It’s recently been revealed that BP made a monumental £2.7 billion profit over the last quarter, while at the same time investing £2 billion in fossil fuels. Where countries are being begged to transition away from these dirty, polluting means of energy production, oil and gas giants are doubling down on them to sustain profits.

If any progress is going to be made in scaling up renewable systems, companies like BP will need to ramp up the investment in renewable technologies. A short term cost now will become even more rewarding in future, after all. Once the transition to cleaner energy is complete, pricing will have to be restructured to ensure energy isn’t free all the time; these systems will need to be maintained.

BP’s investments were incredibly backwards, against the goals outlined in the pre-COP meeting. For every £1 that BP invested into renewables over the last quarter, £11 was put into fossil fuels at the same time. Since the start of the energy crisis, the company has put in 9 times more into fossil fuels than they have into renewables.

What’s the Point of COP?

With all this posturing, it can seem hard to see what the point of all this is. If governments will say they will work towards goals and then scale back their commitments, like Rishi Sunak did, and with companies like BP keeping the fossil fuel industry alive, how is any progress meant to happen? It’s no wonder that these talks are accused of greenwashing.

We shouldn’t give up hope so easily though. The UN believes that the 1.5°C warning limit in the Paris Agreement (from COP21) has itself driven near-universal climate action. At the same time, getting world leaders together to drive discourse about the most important global issue of our time is progress in itself.

Help Upgrade the Electricity Grid

Climate inaction is incredibly frustrating, and with a lack of infrastructure being built, it can seem daunting. However, there is a way you can help and do your bit. By installing your own solar panel array, you can cut your reliance on energy companies and also export renewable energy to the outdated grid. If enough people do this, communities can help support each other and relieve the pressure on fossil fuels.

Find out how much you’d pay for solar panels by clicking on the button below.