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What COP28 teaches us

What COP28 teaches us

COP28 (2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference) was the XXVIII Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change which was held from 30 November to 12 December 2023 at Expo City in Dubai, with the presidency of the United Arab Emirates.
The 18th Conference of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP18) and the 5th Conference of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA5) took place within COP28.
Despite all the doubts preceded by the preparatory work, the agreement found at COP28 among all the participants is better than what was feared.
However, the commitments and determinations seem somewhat inadequate compared to the scale and urgency of the ongoing climate and ecological crisis.
The only positive note, at least from the point of view of the scope of communication, is to abandon fossil fuels, but with an “orderly, fair and equitable transition also for producing countries”.
Obviously it was a compromise and a softened pronouncement so as not to completely displease the producing countries (Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates first and foremost) given that COP28 took place in Dubai; a location that immediately seemed very questionable.
In summary, the agreement invites us to “accelerate the gradual reduction of coal” without sanctioning a real ax or at least a clear indication for the phase out of the most dangerous fossil source for global warming (coal, in fact). Otherwise India and China would have banged their fists on the table.
The underlying problem is not so much in the more or less soft commitments but in the difficulty of moving our technological and economic system towards a true ecological (as well as energy) transition.
We are all in a boat (which is very similar to the Titanic) from which few want to get off so as not to give up partly on a series of “comforts” or “habits” but partly because they are not capable of seeing that the real transition is not technological: it is cultural, scientific and sociological.
Homo sapiens has become an ecological predator and is currently unable to transition towards a culture that sees him as respectful of nature and its uses.
From what we eat to how we dress, to how we move or conduct our days; almost everything is in conflict with the principles of nature and there is little point in pointing out responsibilities to Governments which, in the end, are nothing more than an effect determined by our choices and our way of consuming.
In this sense there is another fundamental problem, an issue inherent in the model: an urgent crisis cannot be resolved effectively with an instrument that tries to bring together around 200 governments around the world with totally different agendas and by definition in conflict with each other.
As much as we can have faith in democratic processes, I believe it is essential to also evaluate their limits.
What has happened in recent decades unfortunately confirms the doubts: although tens of thousands of people have met annually in different places around the world to find shared solutions, in reality, above all, great disappointments have been generated among those who had a genuine interest in solving the problem .
All this happens precisely because such a process managed by so many different actors can only always play downwards, given that there will always be someone busy ruining the party and invalidating the best ambitions with some term cleverly inserted in the folds of the texts.


To date, all the agreements created by the COP have always avoided binding rules regarding the measurement of results and possible penalties for those who go astray.
This is why the COP model is wrong or, at least, needs to be revised.
Among other things, the geopolitical scenario has changed considerably in these twenty years and unfortunately in the wrong direction. Tensions between world states have exploded in number and intensity.
In such a scenario, more similar to a “free-for-all” than to a cohesive parliament, seeking a shared consensus seems not only difficult but totally utopian.
The greater the tensions and open fronts between the participating countries, the fewer the possibilities for building courageous and visionary actions together.
The theme is therefore much more complex and is of a socio-cultural nature and the way of doing politics.
We live in a world of contrasts, generated by the negative culture of liberal competition and the defense of one’s own positions which, despite the climate crisis, has become more acute and hostile.
All this has generated contrasts, a desire to emerge, to overcome but not to cooperate.
It was not understood that the only way out of the crisis is to collaborate towards common objectives, promoting a race in the same direction and not against each other.
A new way of finding solutions that are useful for everyone and that everyone, through innovative ideas and actions, even individual ones, also helps the other.
This feeling must enter the DNA of every person to generate that activation energy that “infects” Politics, corrupted not only by large international financial interests but operated by people who are the children of a corrupt civilization.
The axiom that politicians are corrupt is an all too convenient belief with which we believe we can put our conscience at ease, marginalizing ourselves even further from social responsibility.
The same thing happens at a higher level. For this reason it becomes sacrosanct and essential to try to involve everyone, given that the problem is global. And even more so it is right to try to also involve petro-states such as the United Arab Emirates or the great world of finance. Everyone must be involved because we need to mobilize huge resources. But we cannot remain prisoners of crossed vetoes every time which have the sole effect of postponing any real decision until the next round.
It’s a vicious circle from which there is no escape… live.
In the best scenario, COPs should be stages created to offer global visibility to the best projects, the most courageous and ambitious governments, the most virtuous alliances.
A stage for those who have thrown their hearts over the obstacle and shared that solution to broaden it to a wider audience thanks to strategic agreements between various states.
In the dystopian reality we are experiencing, however, the opposite often happens.
Among other things, in a moment of general confusion in which the traditional balance established by the historical superpowers (USA, China, Russia) seems to have broken down, it is precisely these countries that want to shuffle the cards and make themselves seen as active and decisive on the international scene on a more fronts (sport, wars, the next Universal Exhibition and also the climate crisis).
So while government solutions at an international level remain a pale foothold today, we can look, paradoxically, to the private sector. The widespread environmental awareness among citizen-consumers requires increasingly virtuous behavior.
We urgently need to work on young people. With programs, objectives, perspectives that go beyond the corrupt culture of competition to move towards the principle of everyone moving in the same direction.
In this sense, there is a need for a policy that rewards ideas, startups, projects, which focus on the bioeconomy, widespread energy transition, agroecology, networks, aggregations and rowing all together; applying that Social Ecology, the only novelty of this tired Millennium, so desired and theorized by that giant of history who is Pope Francis.

Guido Bissanti

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