Annual global climate talks are underway Thursday in Dubai against the backdrop of fractured global unity and concern about the influence of the fossil fuel industry as countries face a narrowing window to divert the planet from its disastrous path.
For the U.N. Climate Change Conference, known this year as COP28, the stakes are high — and so is the controversy, given that the oil-rich United Arab Emirates is serving as host.
Dueling worldviews about the future of fossil fuels came to the fore Thursday, as COP28 President Sultan Al Jaber — an oil CEO — said he considered the oil and gas industry a partner that can “lead the way” in the energy transition. Moments later, Simon Stiell, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, told delegates that it was time to “signal the terminal decline of the fossil fuel era as we know it.”
Nations kicked off the two-week proceedings with an immediate achievement, approving the blueprint for a fund that would provide money to vulnerable nations hit hardest by climate change. But it remains to be seen whether wealthier countries, which are not mandated to contribute, will supply the sums that would make the fund meaningful.