Crew Commentary

COP28 will be (at best) a “try”

David Houle - Futurist





After “may the force be with you”, this is my favorite quote from Star Wars. A level up from calling someone “all talk, no action”.


COP28 will start the last day of November. As if to telegraph how uncommitted to meaningful action it will be, it’s being held in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, a petro state, and the official host is Sultan Al Jaber, CEO of the UAE’s national oil company. The UAE releases the highest CO₂ emissions per capita worldwide, at more than 20 metric tons per person.


This is the 28th meeting that the UN has hosted on climate. COP stands for “Conference of the Parties”. There have been 27 of these COPs, with the first one being in Berlin in 1995. The purpose of these COPs is to have governments, bankers and corporations come together to find ways to face climate collapse.


When it comes to our climate crisis, I hold the UN in high esteem. They have always been out front on the issue. The problem of course is inherent in the name, the United Nations. Meaning that the UN cannot move faster than member nations and the nations haven’t fully faced the reality of what is going on. Therefore the UN can lead, but it can’t move faster than its members and the members are not taking action, they are mostly “all talk”.


The speech I have most directed readers to relative to our climate crisis is a short one that Greta Thunberg gave in the run-up to a COP meeting.


Greta is right. There will be loads of nation-state announcements, corporate commitments, and lots of earnest media reporters feeling good about being at the “climate summit”. Many in attendance will be full of words about what could be, can be and even will be done in the future. The self-righteous attendees will be full of needing to tell anyone who will listen how the climate crisis is the top “existential threat” for humanity. Glad you are on the bus, but what have you/your government/your financial institutions,/your companies done?


Yes you think you are making a big deal of “trying” to be on the right side, but the right side, the right actions haven’t yet happened. Sure, there has been huge progress in moving humanity to “sustainability”, but we are emitting more GHGs than ever. Sure there will be talk about “saving the planet”, but these words mean nothing if not followed by necessary and difficult actions being taken.


Why is this long-time environmentalist so negative on COP28?


Remember the COP21 in Paris? That was the one when everyone got excited because 194 countries made a pledge to take action to reduce GHG emissions starting in 2020. It was called the Paris Climate Accord. The goal was to keep global warming below a 1.5 Celsius increase over pre-Industrial Age levels. Yet there are four fundamental failures from that climate accord:


  1. Though the accord was in 2015 the commitments were to start in 2020. In other words it isn’t an urgent problem to start on right away, but to ease into over five years. Not an urgent problem? You have to be kidding!
  2. All countries that made a commitment to lower GHG starting in 2020 have failed to do so. Not a single commitment was honored by those that signed the accord. Commitments that are not kept are not commitments, they are “blah, blah, blah”.
  3. GHG emissions have only gone up since 2015.
  4. The goal was to prevent warming above 1.5 degrees Celsius by the 2030s. This year, the hottest year ever recorded, there were parts of Spaceship Earth that were at 1.7 Celsius already.


So the 2015 Paris Climate Accord was a joke and it’s regarded as the high point of all the COPs. COP 28 will be the 13th conference since that joke. Take a look at the agenda of topics They all sound important and they are. We can just see animated, concerned people talking about each of these issues. So what are they going to do? Come up with more commitments that won’t be met? Yup they would tell Yoda that they are “trying” to make a difference.


[This futurist has co-authored three books on our climate crisis. The most recent one is called “Now That You Know” and can be downloaded for free here at the This Spaceship Earth website. Please read Chapters 2 and 3. Chapter 2 will amaze you on how bad our climate crisis is, so when you see all the hot air coming out of Dubai you can simply shake your head and wonder why they think non-committal talk will solve the problems listed. Chapter 3 states the six things that humanity must do to successfully face the crisis in the next 20 years and then look to see how well-represented they are in the linked agenda.]


In a newsletter that I publish, I wrote what, for me, is the highest truth of all the COPs and why this will be the 28th failure. Nation states can’t solve global problems.


Here is the column I wrote about COP27 last year.


This chart shows how much CO2 humanity has emitted since the first COP in 1995. In 1995 the annual amount of emissions was 25 gigatons. In 2015 when the Paris Climate Accord was agreed to the amount was 35 gigatons. It is expected that in 2023 there will be some 50+ gigatons of emissions. So, in the course of all the COPs, the amount of emissions has more than doubled. Since the Paris Climate Accord, the amount of emissions has gone up more than 30%.



I think that every single representative of a country or a corporation that attends COP28 needs to be asked two questions:


  1. What will be your GHG emissions for 2023?
  2. What will they be in 2024?


Media, will you do your job and ask?


I hope that this will be the first COP when “blah, blah, blah” is proven to not be valid. We will see the numbers in 2024 and decide.