COP28: Lick your wounds

Climate Protest
Environmental activists of “Derniere Renovation” (Last Renovation) group sit next to cast iron radiators to block the Pont de la Concorde bridge in front of the National Assembly, to draw attention to climate change as COP28 is being held in Dubai, and to demand a large-scale plan for the thermal renovation of buildings and energy sobriety, in Paris, France, December 7, 2023. Camille, 33, a young Instagram influencer and environmental activist, (left, front row) attends the action by Derniere Renovation.  REUTERS/Sarah Meyssonnier© Thomson Reuters

Fossil fuel or no-fossil fuel – what to do? Let mercury rise or drop it down – how far the mercury’s liberty should go? To the people, the answers are easy – a bold nay: no more warming of this planet; let it cool down. But, to parties with deep foundation in the warming up business, all driving forces of its survival lie in that foundation. The recently concluded COP 28 was a show of tension between that yes and no.

To some, it turns difficult to sum up the COP 28: gain or loss? To others, a few gains, a few steps towards a hopeful direction. To the third party, the oil bosses overwhelmed the show. The fourth party assumes: warming industry is retreating, taking time to adjust investments, assess areas of profit, complete final calculation – loss from here and gain from there.

The COP 28, thus, turned into a stage of changing equation in the area of energy within two given times – now and future. This ongoing change in equation has already conveyed a strong message to the fossil fuel traders: Their days are going to an end. It is not that the warm upwalas have turned sympathetic to the humanity and they feel the fatal temperature. But, they are finding increasing costs – a major loss is emerging in the property market in the world metropolis; the insurance industry in that metropolis is facing a challenge; and similar arithmetic is increasingly haunting them. This mathematics is not friendly to them. There’s a promise of increased profit from the emerging “green” market. The COP 28 reflected this reality of pushes and pulls.

Therefore, the conference of about 200 parties reached a consensus – transition from fossil fuel. As the Baanglaa saying goes Naai maamaar cheye kaanaa maamaa vaalo, something is better than nothing, the COP 28 has brought in some promises: the era of fossil fuel is going to find its dusk. “It’s twilight for the fossil fuel era”, said Manish Bapna, president and CEO of the Natural Resources Defense Council. The UN seems happy – a historic deal at the end of the conference, a road map to move away from fossil fuel.

But, there was no call for “phase out” of the fossil fuel, which has now turned into an imperative, as 1.5 trillion tons of carbon dioxide has been pumped around our life over the last hundred and fifty years.

Sticking to the goal “will be impossible without the phase out of all fossil fuels”, said António Guterres, the UN Secretary-General.

Now, there’s a threshold, which is going to decide our planet’s destiny. Now, also, there’re the powerful capitals that are also going to decide our Earth’s fate. Life of billions of people doesn’t carry any value to capital hungry for gains unless and until its regeneration is threatened. Capitals warming up this planet are facing this question – shall regeneration be thwarted? It’s one aspect of the reality of global warming. Other aspects include competition between capitals involved with the trade with temperature, and capitals search of path to higher profit in the area of energy. The COP 28 reflected this reality.

So, the cataclysmic future is still on the horizon. So, licking wounds is a task to compel capital to bow down to common future.

The commentary was published in Frontier, Kolkata, India, vol. 56, no. 28, January 7-13, 2024.

Farooque Chowdhury writes from Dhaka, Bangladesh.   

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