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The upcoming COP28 conference will address important issues, but both Biden and Xi will not be in attendance.
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The upcoming COP28 conference will address important issues, but both Biden and Xi will not be in attendance.

At the upcoming COP28 in Dubai, which is the U.N. climate summit for this year, it is worth noting that the leaders of the two biggest economies will not be present.

Neither U.S. President Joe Biden nor Chinese President Xi Jinping will be present at the two-week conference, which strives to unite governments worldwide in supporting the UNFCCC and the 2015 Paris Agreement’s objective of capping global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Representatives from both nations will be present, including John Kerry, who served as Secretary of State and now serves as the Biden administration’s special envoy for climate change. China’s climate envoy, Xie Zhenhua, is also anticipated to attend.

One of the key topics discussed at the conference will be designing a “loss and damage” fund to provide compensation for low-income countries that are experiencing a disproportionate impact from climate change, despite having minimal responsibility for its occurrence.

One significant matter up for discussion is the approval of a plan to gradually eliminate the use of fossil fuels, which is the primary source of carbon emissions.

The conversation about fossil fuels may be complex due to the fact that the host nation, the United Arab Emirates, is a major global producer of oil and gas.

A general view of Expo City and the Al Wall Dome is seen in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Nov. 27, 2023. Representatives will gather at Expo City Thursday through Dec. 12 for the 28th U.N. Climate Change Conference, known as COP28.

From November 27th to December 12th, representatives will convene at Expo City in Dubai, United Arab Emirates for the 28th U.N. Climate Change Conference, also known as COP28. This event will include views of Expo City and the Al Wall Dome.

UAE oil deals

The recent disclosure of leaked documents by the Centre for Climate Reporting and the British Broadcasting Corp. has potentially complicated negotiations in Dubai. The papers reveal that the COP28 organizing body in the UAE plans to discuss oil and gas development projects at the conference.

The choice to have the UAE host the convention was already a point of contention, particularly after Sultan Ahmed Al-Jaber, CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Co., was appointed as president of COP28.

On Monday, reports were released that included talking points for Al-Jaber’s upcoming meetings with representatives from different countries such as China, Colombia, and Egypt. These points seem to indicate that the UAE is open to creating new fossil fuel projects.

The BBC reported that the conference organizers did not refute the accusation and declined to provide further comment, stating that private meetings are confidential.

Activists optimistic

Although certain activists are still concerned about the choice to have the UAE host the event, others argue that the recent disclosures about discussions on oil and gas development could ultimately increase the likelihood of implementing language for phasing out fossil fuels.

Cherelle Blazer, the director of international climate and policy at the Sierra Club, stated that everyone is aware of the division between parties involved. Additionally, a recent article has shed light on the true motives behind the scenes, confirming suspicions that were previously unspoken. Blazer believes that with all of these factors in play, there is a higher likelihood of clarity in the situation.

FILE - U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry speaks during an interview with The Associated Press after the G-7 ministers' meeting on climate, energy and environment in Sapporo, Japan, Apr. 16, 2023.

In an interview with The Associated Press on April 16, 2023, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry discussed the G-7 ministers’ meeting on climate, energy, and environment in Sapporo, Japan.

Additionally, Blazer expressed that she was not worried about the lack of presence from both Biden and Xi.

“The Senate delegation and the entire U.S. negotiating team, including Kerry, will be present. This ensures that all necessary parties are in attendance for any potential actions to take place,” she stated.

Global Stocktake

The upcoming conference will signify the conclusion of the latest Global Stocktake, a biennial evaluation that takes place every five years to track advancement in reducing emissions and achieving other objectives in the fight against global warming.

Although the official outcome of the procedure is still pending, a preliminary report released earlier this year concluded that there has been significant, but insufficient, progress on several climate initiatives in recent years.

The meeting occurs during a period of significant growth in the production and implementation of renewable energy sources worldwide. The costs for essential components, such as photovoltaic panels utilized for harnessing solar energy, are declining rapidly.

According to experts interviewed by VOA, certain areas such as Europe have experienced a significant increase in their shift towards renewable energy in recent times, but progress has been less rapid in other regions. This is partly due to the fact that the emission reduction targets established after the Paris Agreement were determined on a national level, allowing each country to set their own goals.

Trade complications

According to Michael Mehling, the vice director of the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research at MIT, the relationships between countries that have made progress in transitioning to renewable energy and those just starting out are becoming more complex, especially when it comes to trade.

FILE - Smoke billows from a coal-fired power plant in Beijing, Nov. 13, 2014.

FILE – Smoke billows from a coal-fired power plant in Beijing, Nov. 13, 2014.

Mehling expressed that certain countries have a mindset of hastening their shift to renewable energy, stating, “Even if we cannot compel countries like Turkey or China to reduce their carbon emissions through the UNFCCC-Paris Agreement, as it is a nationally driven decision, we can still ensure that any imports from these countries meet the same rigorous standards.”

He stated that certain nations are understandably frustrated by the imposition of restrictive trade requirements for reducing manufacturing emissions.

According to him, certain countries are now expressing disagreement with the Paris Agreement, claiming that they believed they had the authority to determine the pace at which they reduce carbon emissions in their manufacturing industries. They do not want to be dictated by external forces.

The problem is made more complex by the reality that numerous nations in the Global South, which have been reducing their carbon emissions at a slower rate, have not significantly contributed to the global warming crisis. However, they now feel pressured to sacrifice economic growth opportunities without receiving adequate compensation from affluent countries such as the U.S. and China, who have played a major role in causing climate change.