Cop28 bulletin: US GCF pledge and ‘greenwash’ oil and gas charter

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Brazil's President Lula embraces environment minister Marina Silva, with tears in his eyes

An emotional President Lula pays tribute to environment minister Marina Silva's work reversing deforestation in Brazil (Photo: Cop28/Stuart Wilson)


It was UAE National Day yesterday in Dubai. While citizens celebrated with fireworks and drone shows, world leaders convened for a big dinner at Cop28, their speeches made. 

In one of the last speeches of the day, US vice-president Kamala Harris promised $3 billion to the Green Climate Fund, claiming the country is “a leader in the effort to expand international climate finance”.

Now she has to get it past Republicans in Congress, something that kept the US from delivering all of Barack Obama’s 2014 $3 billion pledge.

Italy, Switzerland, Portugal and Estonia have also announced GCF contributions at Cop28.

Several world leaders condemned Israel’s resuming attacks on Gaza, among them Lebanon, Syria, Turkey and South Africa. Harris skipped an event on energy transition to attend talks on the developing situation.

‘Greenwashing’ oil and gas initiative

Sultan Al Jaber’s much-touted Oil and Gas Charter “to speed up climate action in the industry” has seen the light of day.

Fifty oil and gas majors, representing 40% of global production, have committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2050 from their operations. That ignores the emissions caused by burning the stuff – 80-95% of the sector’s carbon footprint.

Other targets are ending routine flaring by 2030, and near-zero upstream methane emissions. Many oil majors, Al Jaber’s Adnoc included, have failed to implement bans on routine flaring.

Barbados’s prime minister Mia Mottley used her speech to target methane. Two years after a global methane pledge was launched in Glasgow, she said, “the global methane agreement that the world needs to see has not yet come.”

Mottley called for regulation and compliance – not voluntary commitments – to make oil and gas companies fix pipelines and stop flaring.

A group of 320 civil society organisations has written a letter to the Cop28 presidency saying the initiative should be dropped as it “serves primarily to greenwash the fossil fuel industry”.

In brief

Going nuclear – Twenty-two countries have pledged to collectively triple their nuclear energy capacity by 2050 from 2023 levels. They include the US, Canada, Japan, South Korea, UAE, UK and France.

Holy phase out – Pope Francis pleaded with Cop28 delegates to drop fossil fuels and engage in “lifestyles that are less dependent” on them. He was scheduled to deliver a speech in Dubai but pulled out due to health issues. Cardinal Pietro Parolin read his remarks instead.

Oil stays at home – Norway joined a group of countries pledging to stop financing fossil fuels internationally. The Clean Energy Transition Partnership, formed in 2021, has 40 members including the US, Canada and several EU countries.

Best forests forever – Brazil launched its proposal for a global fund to protect tropical forests in up to 80 countries. The Tropical Forest Forever Facility would mobilize at least $250 billion in existing resources and pay for conserved tropical forests in member countries.

Better late than never – The US has signed on to Powering Past Coal Alliance. Japan is now the only G7 country that has not committed to phasing out unabated coal power, although its prime minister Fumio Kishida said it would stop building unabated coal power plants.

Keep it in the ground – Colombia joined a group of nine countries calling for an international treaty to leave fossil fuels on the ground. It is the only fossil fuel producer among member countries, which consist mostly of small island states.

Bridgetown to IDB – Mottley’s climate adviser Avinash Persaud has announced he will leave government to become climate adviser to the Inter-American Development Bank’s president, starting 16 January.

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