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Dec 9, 2023, 11:48am EST
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Semafor Signals

The biggest takeaways from COP28

People hold banners during a protest for climate justice and a ceasefire in Gaza during COP28 in Dubai
REUTERS/Amr Alfiky
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COP28 is days away from wrapping up, with observers unsure whether any meaningful resolution will come from the world’s most important climate summit.

From fossil fuel controversies to geopolitical tensions, we’ve gathered some of the biggest takeaways from the Dubai conference over the last week.

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The central debate among countries is whether to “phase out” or “phase down” fossil fuels. Despite their known impact on climate change, debates on the future of fossil fuels only became a fixture at the summit at COP26 in Glasgow two years ago. The issue has become more contentious under the UAE Presidency, with the state oil company chief allegedly using this year’s summit to strike oil deals with foreign dignitaries. While regions like the EU have already pledged to support a “phase out” agenda, the head of OPEC on Friday rallied members to oppose any resolution with the “phase out” wording.

COP28 marks the first time the summit debated food systems, with more than 130 countries signing a resolution acknowledging the impact of meat production in greenhouse gas emissions. The resolution also called on wealthier countries to encourage citizens to eat less meat. Despite the “long overdue” conversation, as one expert said, it’s unlikely that developed nations like the U.S. will actually implement the recommendations. Other observers argued the proposals “ignore the complexity of food systems,” including issues like power imbalances, industrial food production, and climate change’s disproportionate effect on the Global South.

The next climate summit is already shrouded in geopolitical controversy. Per UN rules, COP29 should take place in Eastern Europe, but Russia has been blocking all EU member bids over their opposition to the war in Ukraine. The frontrunner is now Azerbaijan, but critics say that a Baku summit will only be another win for petrostates. And as Azerbaijan builds stronger ties with Russia, many are worried that Moscow’s own energy goals will dominate the conference.

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