Let’s face reality. Fossil fuel interests have destroyed the Cops – we need something new

(The Guardian, 16 Jan 2023) It beggars belief that the UN thought it a good idea to allow an authoritarian petro-state to host an already compromised Cop28.

There is a battle raging over the heart and soul of the UN Cop conferences, which have taken place every year since 1995. On one side are the climate scientists, policymakers, and representatives of countries most under threat from global heating and of nations that simply “get” the disastrous effects of the climate crisis. On the other side is the fossil-fuel industry.

The battle has largely been fought under the radar, but it has been going on for some time. And those who fly the fossil-fuel flag are on the brink of victory. The attack began seriously to gain ground at Cop25. First Jair Bolsonaro’s Brazil withdrew its offer to host the event, then stand-in Chile pulled out due to civil unrest. The Spanish government stepped up at the last minute, and so did its fossil-fuel corporations. The Spanish energy giants Iberdrola and Endesa – the latter one of the country’s biggest greenhouse gas emitters – paid wads of cash to become major sponsors and buy the right to have their logos plastered all over the conference venue.

At Cop26 in Glasgow in 2021 the fossil-fuel invasion continued, this time taking the form of more than 500 delegates representing oil, gas and coal interests. These were lobbyist shock troops charged with ensuring that their industry wouldn’t be hindered in its quest to use more fossil carbon. Last year, at Cop27 – hosted by Egypt at the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh – the fossil-fuel sector consolidated its position by hiking its contingent to a whopping 636 delegates.

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The Guardian, 16 Jan 2023: Let’s face reality. Fossil fuel interests have destroyed the Cops – we need something new