This year's COP has been criticised as somewhere between a
This year's COP has been criticised as somewhere between a "pointless indulgence" and a "gross exercise in corporate and government greenwashing" (see link within text for source)

Portugal (officially) hails COP28 pledge over phasing out of fossil fuels

Unofficially, few are rejoicing

Officially, Portugal is ‘delighted’ by the consensus reached at the 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) in the United Arab Emirates, today.

President Marcelo has gone on record, calling the agreement “historic”.

In a note published on the official website of the presidency, Portugal’s head of State says the agreement “establishes, in its final wording, the transition from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a fair, orderly and equitable manner, accelerating action until 2030, and putting climate action back on track towards carbon neutrality by 2050, in order to contain the increase in global temperature to 1.5°C, in line with the Paris Agreement”.

Marcelo also emphasises “the importance of the approval by the parties of the objectives, proposed by the European Union, of tripling renewable energies and doubling energy efficiency by 2030″.

Says Lusa, Portugal’s president equally referred to “the historic importance of the decision, approved at the opening session of the summit, on the operating rules of the ‘loss and damage’ fund resulting from climate change, which is essential for helping the most vulnerable countries, and which provides funding of $100 billion a year, with an official start scheduled for 2024.

“The president also reinforced the need to continue to fulfil the progress made and its translation into concrete and urgent actions, the strengthening of international cooperation, local, regional and national efforts to achieve a just and equitable transition,” the note on the president’s official site added.

Portugal’s caretaker government, through minister for the environment Duarte Cordeiro considers the agreement reached in Dubai “closes” the country’s participation in COP28 “with a golden key” and gives a hopeful outlook for the future.

But, recalling the unforgettable line of climate activist Greta Thunberg, this all has a ring of “bla, bla, bla”. What will be much more important are results.

Climate change researcher Filipe Duarte Santos has been talking to Lusa, agreeing that “moving away from fossil fuels to decarbonised forms of energy is a huge step forward,” but it needs to be put into practice.

“This will take time and hopefully there will be an acceleration in this transition process, because it has been too slow,” he said.

The agreement is definitely “good news”, but “good intentions” and “good decisions” are only the very first things to establish – while problematic consequences of global warming are already with us.

“Climate change is having an impact on agricultural productivity in many regions of the world, practically all over the world, and that it is necessary to adapt countries, to adapt the agriculture of countries, particularly poorer, weaker countries, to climate change, including in the European Union, southern Europe, where a drier climate and a warmer climate are causing problems”, he went on. “These problems also affect our country” (restrictions on water usage in the south are expected to be announced after the festive season, for example).

For Filipe Duarte Santos, says Lusa, the next COP, in Azerbaijan, “will be very important” because it will make it possible to evaluate the commitments that have been made in Dubai, but “it will also be a little strange” that COP29 is due to take place in yet another oil-producing nation… 

And this is where the younger, more radical, climate activists in Portugal come in – full of scepticism about the official ‘delight’, suggesting solutions “will not be found by the organisations that created the problems”.

“We’d like to have that hope”, said Beatriz Xavier, spokesperson for the Student Climate Strike – a body that complains authorities are being too heavy handed over its peaceful protests (in which hammers are used to break plate glass windows, and paint is regularly thrown on precious objects). 

“Ever since we were born we have heard lies from these institutions, which means it is hard to believe in the agreements they make”, Xavier continued – recalling that “carbon emissions have been increasing year after year”, while the 29th COP approaches. 

Indeed, Beatriz Xavier’s understanding is that “for some time now, the COP has been a commercial centre for countless frauds presented as solutions to the climate crisis”.

Equally, there is “nothing binding” in the declaration reached today.

“When we see a COP where the president is the megalomaniac CEO of an oil company, where the country is a petro-State and where the CEO himself said that the COP was going to be a stage for negotiations with the fossil industry, that says it all. I don’t think this declaration is going to solve this crisis,” she told Lusa, echoing many others on the international stage who have altogether ceased having faith in the COP brand .

Source material: Lusa