The COP28 summit, a focal point in the global climate change discourse, has brought to light both progress and significant challenges. While the summit aimed to propel effective climate action, it also highlighted the ongoing struggle against climate inertia and the complexities inherent in international environmental policy.
Our summary begins with going straight to ‘action’ – what can we do to aid progression?
To counter climate delay discourse, strategies involve recognizing and challenging the underlying arguments.
At Lynn, to counter delay tactics which often include redirecting responsibility, advocating for non-transformative solutions, emphasizing the downsides of action, and promoting surrender to climate change we create effective counter-strategies which involve raising awareness of these tactics, advocating for responsible and transformative solutions, emphasizing the benefits and feasibility of climate action, and fostering a sense of urgency and possibility for change.
But why must we act now? Why should organisations be focusing on such strategies?
COP28 saw an alarming increase in the presence of fossil fuel lobbyists, with around 2,400 attendees being connected to the coal, oil and gas industries, which raised serious conflict of interest concerns. The involvement of key figures like Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, who held dual roles in the fossil fuel industry and the summit, exemplified the complex interplay of industry and environmental policy. This raised questions about the integrity of the negotiations and the influence of fossil fuel interests on global climate agendas. The absence of world leaders like Joe Biden, Xi Jingping, and Anthony Albanese at COP28 was problematic. Their presence is crucial for representing public interests and ensuring diverse perspectives in climate policy. Their absence risks reducing political commitment to CO2 emission reduction and could undermine COP28’s credibility as a platform for “transformative climate action”.
Climate delay discourse comprises strategies that recognize climate change but advocate for delayed or minimal action. These include individualism, technological optimism, fossil fuel greenwashing, and emphasis on social justice and economic costs. Such strategies, analyzed through surveys, media analysis, and community workshops, manifest across various platforms including media and political discourses. This broad application across different contexts and actors underscores their influence in shaping climate change dialogue.
The core of climate delay discourse lies in its ability to navigate around four key questions: Is it our responsibility to act on climate change? Are transformative changes necessary? Is mitigating climate change desirable given the costs? And, is it still possible to mitigate climate change? These questions form the basis of strategies that redirect responsibility, push non-transformative solutions, emphasize the downsides of climate policy, or suggest surrendering to climate change. COP28 saw a number of examples of delay discourse including:
- The COP28 discussions on expanding renewable energy frequently encountered opposition through arguments emphasizing the economic challenges of reducing fossil fuel dependency. This represents a typical climate delay tactic, highlighting the resistance to energy transition despite its long-term benefits for the environment. Since COP28, president Sultan Al Jaber says his oil firm Adnoc will continue to invest in fossil fuel production.
- Despite international commitments like the Global Methane Pledge, the ongoing funding of fossil fuel projects by certain nations marked a clear divergence between their pledges and actual actions. The International Energy Agency has said that the pledges made at COP28 alone will not be enough to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees celsius. This discrepancy exemplifies ‘whataboutism‘, a strategic avoidance of responsibility in climate action.
- The rise in deforestation rates post-COP26, despite pledges to end it by 2030, underscored a significant gap between global commitments and real-world outcomes. This situation aligns with a ‘words, very little action’ narrative, common in climate delay discourses.
- The significant pledges regarding finance and renewable energy made at COP28 often remained disconnected from the core negotiations. This separation suggests a climate delay strategy, focusing on future targets rather than immediate, actionable steps.
So, in conclusion, it is evident economically and socially how much our world will continue to be affected whilst politics directs policy, with COP28 highlighting how much we must act now to counter further delay on mitigating the risks and outputs of climate crisis.
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