Staying on course for climate “madness”.

10 Billion Solutions Analysis lists its views on the World Economic Forum 2023 (WEF23) and the United Arab Emirates’ COP28 presidency in one column.

The appointment of Sultan Al Jabir, the CEO of ADNOC, one of the world’s largest oil producers, and Masdar, the renewable energy company of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), as the elected chairman of the next UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) The operation of economic power and institutional governance in the Gulf region considering, it was not a big surprise. US climate envoy John Kerry called the appointment “a great choice”, while Tasneem Essop, international head of the NGO CAN, said it represented “a large-scale takeover of climate change negotiations by a national oil company”. CAN has called on Al Jabir to step down as oil chief before continuing to lead multilateral climate talks meant to save humanity from climate catastrophe.

Importantly, while science tells us that limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees C by 2100 involves phasing out fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas), the UAE’s national oil company says that by 2027 announced that it will almost double daily oil production. , to 5 million barrels per day, a plan that does not comply with the Paris Agreement signed by the UAE. The selection of the presidency of the United Arab Emirates to lead the next Conference of the Parties is a highly visible, but not isolated, example of the double talk that often dominates discussions about solutions to the climate crisis. The point is that we don’t have much time to orient ourselves in the cacophony of conflicting rhetoric and action.

The slippery slopes of Davos… for the oil bosses

The news provides many other examples of these surprising paradoxes: think of the World Economic Forum or the annual Davos meeting organized by the WEF, the powerful Swiss organization that brings together the world’s rich and powerful each year. Under the theme “Cooperation in a fragmented world”, 2,700 personalities from 130 countries, including more than 50 heads of state or government and heads of multinational corporations, gathered at this exclusive resort to reflect and discuss the world’s progress. If we continue to act as if nothing has happened, everyone knows that we are headed for disaster. Snow appeared to be an absentee at the start of the Davos meeting due to a heat wave hitting Europe, but it finally arrived in time to brighten the scene.

Not to be missed at the meeting in Davos are the CEOs of major fossil fuel companies, including BP, Chevron and Saudi Aramco. Their presence has been condemned by climate activists who criticize the influence of fossil fuel companies at these gatherings, and echoes the anger of the record number of oil and gas sector representatives who attended the recent COP27. But activists are increasingly speaking out not only on ski resort streets, but in boardrooms. At one such event, Greta Thunberg accused energy companies of “sacrificing people” during a speech with IEA chief Fatih Birol, which is noteworthy. Greater involvement of civil society is always good news.

Another international leader whose rhetoric is increasingly resonant as climate disasters hit a little harder everywhere each year is United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who sent this stark message to the fossil industry: “Today, fossil fuel producers and their backers continue to compete does. to expand production knowing full well that this economic model is incompatible with human survival.

The seemingly paradoxical or insane double talk of some powerful corporations and nations should not distract us from what we know are the right steps to take to respond to the climate emergency. Let’s address this other paradox at the finer level of the individual consumer and the companies we depend on. The vast majority of the world’s citizens acknowledge the existence of climate and biodiversity crises, are concerned and want to do something about it. Yet we, at least in the wealthier countries, continue to contribute to the degradation of climate and biodiversity because we all lack the enabling conditions to move from concern to action. .

Moreover, we are bombarded with commands to consume more than we need to thrive in life. Think Black Friday and, more recently, Blue Monday, inventions marketed perfectly to encourage overconsumption. Think of the incredibly powerful algorithms embedded in our digital lives, perfectly targeting us with sustainable lifestyle ads. We are becoming climate-conscious citizens, and yet we are subjecting ourselves to strongly conflicting directives. A final paradox for today: OXFAM’s report released just before the WEF shows that the richest have gotten richer since the pandemic, as the number of people living in poverty has risen for the first time in 25 years. The aim of the report is to demonstrate why it is so important to tax the wealthiest and prevent spiraling inequalities.

A group of progressive millionaires and billionaires surprisingly called for a tax in the name of social justice. Taxation is a power and prerogative of states, and yet most, if not all, of these states are very reluctant to tax the wealthiest for fear of seeing wealth flee to other jurisdictions. Is there a greater paradox than having the power for good and not using it?

Stick to the basics

We can’t claim to understand all of these paradoxes, but we can all stick to basic principles that most people agree on that will help guide our personal choices and actions:

1. There is a scientific consensus on the causes of climate emergencies and it is no longer in doubt;
2. Public awareness and concern are high today and will continue to rise to influence public policy and corporate behavior;
3. Governments at all levels can and should play a key political role in setting direction and pace;
4. Powerful and scalable solutions exist, but we need to negotiate and invest to make them work;
5. We must decarbonize and adapt as quickly as possible, climate change is real and it is killing people.

Paradoxes and difficulties will not disappear simply by adhering to a few principles. Selfishness is a given at the level of individuals, companies and states, and it would be naïve to hope that greed and self-interest will disappear. But only by insisting on international dialogue can we build multilateral trust and create conditions for economic progress and social change; only by adopting an unambiguous state and economic policy will the profit motive be directed to more decarbonized activities; only by being vigilant and communicating honestly and factually can we shape our collective aspirations.

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