Language Wars Could Decide the Climate Fight

"oil and gas producers increasingly sound like climate advocates, using the same words and phrases that call for the end of the fossil fuel era"
December 19, 2023

In the week since the twenty-eighth Conference of the Parties, or COP28, climate talks wrapped up, media coverage of the outcome has been largely positive. That coverage has focused on the statement produced at the end of the conference, which “calls on” participating nations to “contribute” to the “transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems.” This marks the first time since the inaugural COP of 1995 that a final text actually mentions the words “fossil fuels.” Not even the 2015 Paris Agreement acknowledged that coal, oil, and methane gas are the root causes of climate change.

Insofar as commentators have criticized the consensus text negotiators reached in Dubai last week, they’ve noted that it lacks both ambition and teeth, since it calls merely for a “transition away” from fossil energy, when it should call for “drastic immediate emission cuts and binding commitments from the largest contributors of the climate […]

“First, let’s look at what the text demands: It “calls on” parties (i.e., nations who are “party” to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change) to “contribute to … transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems.” This may sound robust, but under UNFCCC guidelines, the verb “calls on” is the weakest possible request to the parties.”


Read the full post at The New Republic.

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