World leaders to attempt closure of emissions gap and ‘keep 1.5 degrees alive’ – The Irish Times
With indications Earth has entered uncharted territory due to record warming, more than 150 global leaders gathered at Cop28 in Dubai will attempt to close large gaps in implementing the Paris Agreement.
The two-week UN summit opening on Thursday will seek agreement on stepping up carbon emissions cuts, ramping up renewable energy and securing a multibillion climate finance package to help limit the impacts of the climate crisis on the most vulnerable countries.
But already it has become embroiled in controversy amid claims that the hosts UAE — one of the world’s largest petrostates — were planning to use the event to lever oil and gas business.
This has been vehemently denied by Cop28 president Sultan Al Jaber, who told the Guardian an “unprecedented outcome” that would keep alive hopes of limiting global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees was within reach. Recent scientific reports indicate that critical target is slipping rapidly out of reach as temperatures soar and emissions continue to rise.
“The 2023 summit is one of the most important in years because it will see what progress has been made to meet the targets agreed in the 2015 Paris Agreement, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said.
Speaking from Dubai, Mr Varadkar said: “We’ve had a year of record-breaking temperatures and alarming severe weather events, including some on our own shores, which have had disastrous consequences for the lives and livelihoods of thousands of people around the world. This is a crucial opportunity.”
A “global stocktake” will assess what the world has actually achieved since the Paris pact, he said, and would show “we must work harder and faster to secure a safe, healthy, prosperous environment for all”.
A better system of climate finance was necessary, he said. “Sadly, countries suffering most from climate change often have the greatest difficulty getting access to the finance and resources they need to deal with it.”
On the fossil fuel issue which has bedevilled recent Cops, Mr Varadkar said: “At a time when the world is divided in so many ways, the urgent need to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and bring down our emissions, is one challenge that unites us all.”
The Taoiseach will make the Republic’s national statement to Cop28 on Saturday, “setting out our commitment to vulnerable countries experiencing the greatest impact of climate change”.
Minister for the Environment Eamon Ryan said he was going to Cop28 with two key priorities: to ensure the written decision from the stocktaking “includes a mechanism for greater investment in clean energy in developing countries; and a plan for fossil fuel industries to pay their fair share into the world’s climate financing pot”.
Speaking at a Stop Climate Chaos protest outside Dáil Eireann, Jerry MacEvilly of Friends of the Earth said almost 30 years of Cops had almost completely ignored fossil fuels; “the elephant in the room”.
“The science is clear. The window to prevent climate breakdown is closing and we don’t have time to waste; states must be clear that the only way to tackle the climate crisis is to urgently end our addiction to dirty, expensive gas, coal and oil,” he said
The Government and EU must respond by demanding a commitment to a fast and fair global phase-out of fossil fuel production and consumption, combined with an end to further investment and subsidies, he added.