Mixed feelings around COP28 deal
Delegates from around 200 countries gathered in Dubai over the last two weeks for the annual United Nations Climate Change Conference, this time billed as COP28. As the end of the conference approached, countries struggled to find an agreement that would satisfy all, and many were unhappy even after the deal was pushed through. What is Czechia’s view, and will the agreement change anything for the country?
Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, the controversial choice of president for COP 28 as he is also the CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, was quick to bang the gavel at the end of the conference and declare the Dubai deal approved, saying he had heard no objections. But the objections came immediately after, particularly from small Pacific Island nations who said that there hadn’t been enough time to raise objections and that some of their delegates hadn’t even been in the room at the time.
However, although not on the front lines of the impacts of climate change, EU countries also were not entirely happy with the agreement, which does not stipulate a clearly defined date by which the use of fossil fuels should end. Pavel Zámyslický was the head of the Czech negotiating team at the conference.
"We are not happy with the text. I expect that over time there will be a lot of game-playing around the issue, a lot of delay.”
However, Romana Jungwirth Březovská, a climate analyst at the Association for International Affairs who was in Dubai following the conference, says that some positive things may come from it.
“It’s definitely a positive signal that tells the world that it should transition away from using fossil fuels. Not only from the political point of view, but also for investors, so that they can see that they should invest primarily into low-emission technologies, the development of renewable energy sources, and so on, and that investing into fossil fuels will no longer be cost-effective or profitable.”
For Czechia and the European Union, the final agreement – a compromise after Saudi Arabia and other oil-exporting countries pushed for fossil fuels not to be mentioned in the text at all – won’t change very much. The EU is already trying to move away from fossil fuels with its Green Deal for Europe.
However, the fact that fossil fuels are mentioned at all is viewed as progress by some, as previous agreements only talked about reducing greenhouse gas emissions without explicitly mentioning moving away from fossil fuels.
But the wording of the text still leaves a lot of room for interpretation, calling on all countries to transition “away from fossil fuels in energy systems in a just, orderly and equitable manner”. As Romana Jungwirth Březovská says, every country may interpret it differently.
“Governments are parties to the Paris Agreement under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, so it is primarily up to them how they actually formally incorporate the emission reduction strategy into their plans.”
The host of the next summit, COP29 in 2024, should be Azerbaijan – another country that relies primarily on oil and gas for its exports. Next year’s summit was supposed to be held in an Eastern European country, but Russia vowed to block any bid by an EU member state.