By David Wojick, Ph.D.
As I pointed out several years ago, the climate alarmists have a civil war going on, between radicals and moderates. Radical leader Greta Thunberg’s famous “How dare you” was addressed to moderate COP negotiators, not to skeptics.
In recent years every COP had been dominated by an angry motion from the radicals, which was ultimately defeated in the final hours. Ironically these noisy motions tend to actually inhibit progress on the big green agenda, so I welcome them.
COP 28 was no different. The basic idea was to finally mention fossil fuels in the final statement after 27 COPS not doing so. Makes sense given that burning fossil fuels are the supposed reason for the climate alarm.
Seemed simple enough, but the radicals had to go full bore on it. They demanded an agreement to actually phase out fossil fuels. Out in the sense of none. No oil, no gas, no coal, nothing.
To see how radical this phase out stuff really is note that the alarmist abomination called net zero does not do this. The net in net zero specifically allows for future fossil fuel emissions, provided these are offset in some way. Moreover it allows for unlimited fossil fuel use if carbon capture can ever be made to work. Net zero is about emissions not fuel.
Moreover a lot of fossil fuel is used as petrochemical feedstock, which does not create CO2 emissions. As my colleague Ron Stein strenuously points out, petrochemical products are fundamental to our way of life. Phasing out fossil fuels would mean ending petrochemicals.
A lot of countries objected to this radical phase out insistence. Some were oil and gas producers and the radical press focused on them. But a bunch of others were countries that rightly saw fossil fuel as powering economic improvement. This humanitarian side of the argument seldom got reported.
There was an exquisite moment in the middle of all this mindless ho-ha. The moderate President of COP 28 had said there was no science supporting the need to obliterate fossil fuel use. The radicals were outraged and said so.
In response the Pres then held a press conference featuring the Chief of the IPCC. The Chief said that meeting the holy target of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees C just required reducing oil use by 60% and nat gas use by 45% (not even half). Nothing like phasing out fossil fuel use was required. He specifically said the President was correct.
None of this made the slightest difference to the radicals. The radical rag CNN even did a long piece on the press conference without mentioning the IPCC or its Chief. This is the clearest proof that science is of no interest to the radical alarmist that I have seen to date.
When push came to shove at the end the radicals simply lost big time. The final statement says nothing about phasing out fossil fuels. It doesn’t even say that about the demon coal, which is just supposed to be phased down, not out, someday.
The final COP 28 statement simply “calls on Parties” (the P in COP, actually member countries) to “contribute” to “Transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly and equitable manner, accelerating action in this critical decade, so as to achieve net zero by 2050 in keeping with the science;”
So it is just contributing to net zero by 2050. The nature of this contribution is up to each country and some have net zero targets later than 2050, like China and India.
Note that a transition is importantly different from a phase out. A transition implies that the needed energy is still there, just from a different source. Phase out says nothing about meeting energy needs.
The Chinese may have had something to do with this language because they repeatedly say they will switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources when those sources actually provide the needed energy (which is likely never and they know it). In any case a transition is nothing like a phase out.
It is also likely that the phrase “in keeping with the science” comes from the COP President. Keeping his voice on the table as it were. He should smile.
In COP 28 the moderates won and the radical alarmists lost, wasting everybody’s time in the process. The actual negotiations got no press. It was noise all the way down.