COP28, the UN Conference of the Parties in oil-rich Dubai, currently underway, will not resolve the issue of oil and gas companies agreeing to slow down oil production. To the contrary, all signals point to an increase according to formal plans already laid out by the industry, as stated by the International Energy Agency. Reuters November 2023 headline says it all: Global Fossil Fuel Production Plans Far Exceed Climate Targets.
Greenhouse gas emissions will continue to rip roar, snort, huff and puff higher ever higher post COP28. It’s guaranteed. The oil companies insist upon it. And a new kid on the block named Climate Trace, launched July 2020, will be monitoring them with remarkable accuracy.
According to a stunning report released at COP28 by Climate Trace (Independent Greenhouse Gas Emissions Tacking) emissions have been soaring well beyond official statistics reported by countries. Needless to say, this is really awful news for a global climate system that’s already gone bonkers because of excessive levels of greenhouse gases. And of course, it can only mean that we’ll continue to live in a Bonkers World gone crazy with off-the-charts rip-snorting craziness like temperature changes forcing migrants and nature’s resources northward bound as the equatorial turns barren and useless.
“IPCC (the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which advises the UN) has understated global warming in the pipeline and understated fossil fuel emissions in the pipeline via lack of realism in the Integrated Assessment Models that IPCC uses for climate projections.” (James Hansen, “A Miracle Will Occur” Is Not Sensible Climate Policy, Dec. 7, 2023)
And of course, there’s this: “According to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, 75% of Spain’s land is battling climatic conditions that could lead to desertification… And that means soils which are unable to retain water or organic matter, that cannot support crops or nourish livestock—which is a matter of huge concern in a country where agriculture accounts for annual exports of some 60 billion euros ($66 billion).” (Source: Spain Worries Over ‘Lifeless Land’ Amid Creeping Desertification, Phys.org, August 1,2023).
All of which is the end result, in part, of limp Saudi feudalism, and affiliated feudalistic monarchies, dictating policy in a modern overcrowded world (more on this to follow).
Thanks to Climate Trace, we now know a lot more about global emissions because of its pinpoint accuracy, who’s cheating, who’s not reporting, who’s underreporting, uncovering smoke screens across the globe. And better yet, for the first time ever, climate advocates… Yes, people like you! … have direct access to personally follow worldwide emissions with an accuracy that is simply out-of-this-world wonderful. Climate Trace is a spectacular newcomer for measurement of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, and it’s open to the public, simply click on the link: Climate Trace.
Meantime. at COP28 the overall situation has gotten a bit testy, in fact, quarrelsome. Not only has Sultan Al-Jaber, the president of this year’s COP, been caught red-handed with his hand jammed down into the cookie jar, but it should also be noted that one country at COP28 can veto an agreement by all of the nations. If that sounds ridiculous, a country holding the world hostage, indeed, it is obscenely ridiculous because it allows one outlaw country to dictate terms to the world. And it happened!
The negotiations rely upon “consensus from all countries,” but Saudi Arabia has already flipped the bird at the delegates by publicly notifying them of its intention to block any restrictions on oil production. The Saudi energy minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said “Absolutely Not” to any language coming out of the conference that relates to fossil fuel “phase down.” The American Petroleum Institute, amidst a swimming mass of 1,300 fossil fuel lobbyists (setting a COP record) claims: “A fossil fuel phaseout is misguided.” (The New York Times)
With only two words spoken, Saudi Arabia now rules the world.
Unless, somehow, someway, Al Gore successfully manages to change the rules for next year by bringing together advocates to push for reform that allows decisions to be made by a “super majority of countries” rather than consensus. It’s the only way to stop a country stuck in traditions of the Middle Ages (500-1400) from ruling, and ruining, the 21st century. Does that make sense?
Meanwhile, Climate Trace has unveiled countries that have been issuing inaccurate emissions figures, specifically China, India, and the United States as under-reporters. Since 2015 the biggest increases in global greenhouse gas emissions have occurred at
those three that fail to accurately report.
“Electricity generation in China and India, and oil and gas production in the US, have produced the biggest increases in global greenhouse gas emissions since 2015, when the Paris climate agreement was signed, new data has shown.” (Source: Greenhouse Gas Emissions Soar – With China, US and India Most at Fault, The Guardian, Dec. 3, 2023)
According to Climate Trace’s release at COP28: DUBAI, UAE — 3 December 2023 — “Today, Climate TRACE published an inventory of unprecedented granularity that pinpoints nearly every major source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions around the world and provides independently produced estimates of how much each emits. Encompassing human-caused emissions from facilities — including power plants, steel mills, ships, and oil refineries — and other emitting activities — including fertilizer application, deforestation, and wildfires — Climate TRACE’s expanded database now tracks GHG emissions from more than 352 million assets, a 4,400x increase compared to the number of assets covered by the inventory last year. All Climate TRACE data are free and publicly available to help enable action and accountability at the massive scale necessary for global progress.”
Al Gore, one of the founders of Climate Trace, claims the technology fills a vacuum devoid of accurate information by breaking down exact locations of emissions facility by facility on a worldwide basis. It’s a remarkably sophisticated tool for identifying emissions.
Under the Paris ’15 climate agreement, countries and companies agreed to report emissions on a regular basis. Climate Trace has blown a hole a mile wide in some of those reports. For example, coal mines in China were found to be responsible for a large proportion of underreported methane emissions from 2021-22. And CO2 from international airline flights increased by an astounding 74%.
Climate Trace combines the power of AI and machine learning with satellite data to construct “pictures of the world we’ve never seen before. And it’s allowing us to make climate progress in a way some never believed possible.” (Gavin McCormick, co-founder).
Many climate scientists believe the only way forward to prevent more damage to life-sourcing ecosystems is complete cessation of fossil fuel production.
NYC, September 2023: 400 scientists signed a letter addressed to President Biden endorsing the demands of the March to End Fossil Fuels in NYC, Sept. 17th, 2023: “On your first day in office, you issued an executive order pledging that it is ‘the policy of my administration to listen to the science’ in tackling the climate crisis… And yet, rather than ratchet down fossil fuels, your administration has approved drilling permits at a rate faster than the Trump administration, opened up huge swaths of land and ocean to leasing, expanded exports, approved new pipelines, and embraced industry greenwashing ploys like carbon capture, which further entrenches our reliance on fossil fuels.”
If the world community of climate science can retake control over its own destiny by stopping medieval nations like Saudi Arabia from ruining progress, there may be an outside chance of reducing the destructive impact of an already out of control climate system… maybe, but maybe not.
Meantime, build seawalls, just in case.
West Antarctica looks assured of collapsing, but the timing is uncertain. See: Dr Kaitlin Naughten – Antarctic Ice Sheet Loss Acceleration – British Antarctic Survey, interview by Nick Breeze, November 2023 on YouTube.
Or read: K. Naughten, et al, Unavoidable Future Increase in West Antarctic Ice-Shelf Melting Over the Twenty-First Century, Nature Climate Change, October 23, 2023.
Robert Hunziker is a journalist from Los Angeles