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Climate researcher Rockström: "We don't need any further talks or declarations of intent, the scientific findings are clear"

Photo: Marten Ronneburg / KreativMedia Berlin / IMAGO

Climate researchers often criticize politicians and corporations around the annual climate conferences. This time, the COP itself is under criticism. From the point of view of leading climate researcher Johan Rockström, the meetings must focus more on the concrete implementation of climate protection.

"Despite 27 climate summits and a large number of pledges and promises, global CO₂ emissions have continued to rise," the director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (Pik) told the German Press Agency. "We don't need any further discussions or declarations of intent, the scientific evidence is clear."

Every year, tens of thousands of delegates from around 200 countries meet at the invitation of the United Nations (UN) to discuss how to mitigate the climate crisis. The results and measures often lag behind reality. The process is important, but needs to be reformed, Rockström said. "There's nothing left to negotiate. COP28 must focus on implementation."

The conferences must become "more integrative, more proactive and more effective," demanded Rockström, who also sent a letter to the organizers with his colleagues with his reform proposals. In his view, politicians need to focus more on the current state of science and account for what their governments are doing – or not doing – when it comes to climate protection. "Such a change is long overdue," Rockström said.

Protect the status quo

He also criticized the escalating dimensions. 70,000 participants are expected in Dubai, including, as in Egypt last year, many fossil fuel lobbyists. "Industry and other stakeholders come to show their supposedly green ambitions, but often want above all to protect the status quo and achieve further extraction and use of fossil fuels," Rockström said.

On Thursday, the 28th UN Climate Change Conference begins in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. An opening ceremony is planned to kick things off. The first highlight of the two-week deliberations will be a Climate Action Summit at the level of heads of state and government on Friday and Saturday. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) will also travel to Dubai for this purpose.

The conference will focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, in particular by moving away from fossil fuels and expanding renewable energies. It is also about financing climate change mitigation and adaptation for climate impacts and compensating for climate-related damage to developing countries.