A day at the COP

COP28: "The Earth does not belong to us, we belong to the Earth"

The 28th Climate Conference opened on Thursday 30 December for twelve days in Dubai (United Arab Emirates) with a record number of nearly 80,000 participants. Every evening, "A Day at the COP" summarises the main news, announcements and reactions of the day. The newspaper also goes to meet its many players. On Friday 1st and Saturday 2nd, more than 140 heads of state will take to the podium to try to give the necessary political impetus to the success of the event.

Heads of state walk down the main thoroughfare of Dubai's Expo City for the start of the COP28 political summit on Friday, December 1. via REUTERS - COP28 / MAHMOUD KHALED

By: Géraud Bosman-Delzons Follow


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(With our teams in Paris and Dubai)

The sweeping of political leaders began in the early afternoon in plenary. A litany of observations from a planet adrift. Powerful deaths, recounting national tragedies and challenges. Sincere words, certainly, for many. "We can't save a burning planet with a fossil fuel fire hose," said Guterres, who is no stranger to climate peril and no stranger to punching phrases. The UN Secretary-General has called on the G20, which accounts for 80% of global emissions, to assume its responsibilities. "Not reduce. Not abate. Phase Out ("No Discount; No decrease is conditional on catchment. An exit.") The day before, COP28 President Sultan Ahmed al-Jaber had instead given his support to the continued use of fossil fuels, pleading for countries to work together with oil companies to find common ground. With barely concealed words, the battle is on.

♦ He didn't get the ball rolling as planned, but he did speak out. King Charles III, known for his environmental convictions, participated in his first COP as British monarch. "Records are broken so often that we become desensitized to what they tell us," he said. "We are conducting a frightening experiment of changing all ecological conditions at the same time, at a rate that is beyond nature's capabilities." He called for a reform of global finance adapted to the new challenges. "The Earth does not belong to us, we belong to the Earth," the king concluded.

The UAE is launching a giant $30 billion private fund for the transition. This was the announcement made by President al-Jaber before declaring COP28 open. Hosted by the Emirates-based fund manager Lunate, Altérra's first partners include the world's largest asset manager, BlackRock, as well as Canadian asset manager Brookfield and US-based TPG. It will be dedicated to "solutions" and aims to reach 250 billion by 2030. The sum is as staggering as the details of how it works are meager.

France and Kenya are launching a coalition for international taxation that can raise the billions of dollars developing countries need in the face of climate change. "Together with Barbados, Kenya and several others, we are launching an 'international task force' that will have to report its conclusions to the G20 in Rio to set up international taxation at the COP 30 'in Brazil in 2025'," French President Emmanuel Macron said in Dubai. A press conference is due to detail this initiative on Saturday, which has been mooted for years, but which has become clearer since the Paris summit in June 2023. The French president also attended a finance summit alongside him and urged wealthy G7 countries to end the use of coal by 2030 to "set an example".

"Africa is ready to play its full part in the fight against climate change," said Kenyan President William Ruto. Building on the success of the Nairobi summit, which resulted in a consensus of African heads of state, Ruto called for a tripling of renewables to phase out coal. To promote the energy transition, "we must consider the opportunity represented by carbon credits and improve CO2 storage," said Mozambique President Felipe Nyusi. This view is shared by Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who wants to further develop the carbon market. Namibia, for its part, is proposing to develop its green hydrogen sector. Denis Sassou Nguesso's Congo insists on the vital role of the Congo Basin as a global carbon regulator.

Sea. Five of the world's largest shipping companies (without China's Cosco) as well as France, South Korea and Denmark, are committed to adopting "a robust regulatory framework" by 2027 promoting the ecological transition of the sector. Committed to reducing their emissions by 30% compared to 2008, i.e. beyond the 20% targets set by the International Maritime Organization. Such a coalition is unprecedented.

Food. 134 countries, producing 70% of the world's food, have pledged to prioritise food and agriculture in their national climate change plans, in a statement initiated by the United Arab Emirates. These include the United States, the European Union, China and Brazil. These countries will support vulnerable farmers and other food producers, including by increasing funding, strengthening infrastructure and developing early warning systems, the text promises. For Elizabeth Nsimadala, president of the East African Farmers' Federation (25 million smallholders), this declaration is the shot in the arm of the transformation of the food system. It recognizes that the 439 million small family farms are the key to the change required." "This is a decisive step," said Esther Penunia, secretary general of the 13-million-member Asian Farmers' Organization for Sustainable Development. "But the real work begins. Governments must work alongside farmers' networks to ensure that Dubai's promises are translated into concrete and funded policies.


The Israeli-Palestinian conflict looms over the plenary. Israeli President Isaac Herzog traveled to Dubai to plead with counterparts for the release of hostages still held in the Gaza Strip. But he left before his speech. The Iranian delegation also walked out of COP28 in protest at the presence of the Israelis.

Turkey is a candidate for COP31 in 2026. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced this during his speech. Ankara is thus entering into competition with Australia.

The loss and damage fund, which was operationalized with great fanfare on Thursday, now has $700 million, up from just over $400 million yesterday.

♦ A working document for the final agreement was already published on Friday morning and proposes that countries decide on a "reduction" or "exit" from fossil fuels. Probably the paragraph that will be the most hotly debated in the coming days.


The United Arab Emirates' Minister of Energy, Sultan Ahmed Al-Jaber, opened on Friday 30 November the summit of heads of state that launches twelve days of climate negotiations: COP28 which he chairs, a climate conference considered critical to accelerate the transition to a decarbonised world. By succeeding in getting a fund adopted to help the countries most affected by extreme events and often the poorest, he won a symbolic victory. But he knows that the respite will be short-lived and that the hardest part awaits him: as the boss of a major oil company, he will have to arbitrate against the interests of his sector if he wants "his" COP to end with what science recommends: a programmed end to fossil fuels. This is an extremely controversial and a priori schizophrenic position. © Géraud Bosman-Delzons/RFI

GOOD COP / BAD COP. "Brazil Red" card?

Brazil is set to join the group of oil-producing countries.

Will it be red or green for Brazilian President Lula da Silva? The chief custodian of the Amazon rainforest is globally praised for his commitment to this great natural carbon sink, a gigantic haven of biodiversity. And the figures from the beginning of his mandate attest to it: deforestation is on the decline - at least on the Amazonian side, because the destruction of the Cerrado savannah is accelerating. On Friday, he was among the first of his counterparts to speak at COP28. "The Earth is fed up with climate agreements that are not respected," thundered Brazilian President Lula, who will host COP30 in two years. The climate emergency is a reality in Brazil, he said, touting that Brasilia has an ambitious climate strategy in relation to the most polluting countries...

But here's the thing: behind the media spotlight, other priorities coexist that are difficult to reconcile. On Wednesday, President Lula met with the Emir of Qatar and praised his potential for investment in oil exploration projects in Brazil. Then, on Thursday 30 November, the opening day of the COP, Brazil's energy minister said he was looking forward to joining OPEC+, the Organization of Petroleum Producing Countries. The Brazilian presidency confirmed on Thursday that it had received the invitation, but has not yet responded. The world's largest oil power, with 4.6 million barrels per day (compared to 3.5 million for the Emirates, for example), could join the Gulf countries and Russia as early as January. The five countries hosting the largest expected volumes of oil and gas production (in millions of barrel equivalents of oil) are Qatar (17%), Saudi Arabia (13%), Brazil (10%), the United States (8%) and the United Arab Emirates, the host country of COP28 (6%).

Brazil has long procrastinated on the issue. More than a decade ago, the same Lula, already in office, refused to join OPEC. Times are definitely changing.

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