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Are COPs useful? A defence from five participants

Here, five participants at this year's COP28 defend the meetings, insisting that without them, the planet would be in much worse shape

Published: Dec 8, 2023 04:52:13 PM IST
Updated: Dec 8, 2023 05:00:56 PM IST

Are COPs useful? A defence from five participantsUS Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry speaks during a press conference at the United Nations climate summit in Dubai on December 6, 2023. Image: Giuseppe Cacae / AFP

In recent years, there have been growing questions about whether the climate talks known as COP are useful.

Here, five participants at this year's COP28 defend the meetings, insisting that without them, the planet would be in much worse shape.

- John Kerry, US climate envoy

"Some people have suggested here or there that the Paris Agreement hasn't worked because we are behind and we have a distance to go," Kerry told a press conference Wednesday.

"But I would argue to everybody and I think the evidence is clear, that to the contrary, it has worked because I remember that before Paris... we were headed to 3.7 to 4 degrees of warming of the planet."

"With the cooperation of people all over the world... we are now substantially more on track," he said.

- Rana Adib, director of REN21, a network of experts on renewable energy

"The COP is a necessary process. From the energy point of view, the process has been far too slow, particularly given the climate emergency."

"Though it might be hard to believe, this is the 28th COP, and renewable energy and energy efficiency have never been mentioned in the texts," she told AFP.

"So I would say, the number is: 27 COP meetings without a mention of renewable energy, with COP28 being the first COP during which renewable energy could -- and should -- be in the final text."

"There is a potentially historic moment to seize, given the international mobilisation on the objective of tripling renewable energy capacity and doubling energy efficiency... However, it's necessary that it be integrated into the COP28 final text."

- Fati N'Zi-Hassane, Africa director of Oxfam International

"COP is still a place where multilateralism prevails. In times like these, it's important to say that a country like the Seychelles, the least populous country in Africa, has the same access to the microphone as any developed country. They have the same rights as the big countries or economies."

"Beyond that, you have to look at the COPs as an iterative process, where we crystallise the layers of agreement and advances. For example, COP15 in 2009, in Copenhagen, that was the moment when we decided to reduce greenhouse gases and on the creation of a Green Climate Fund, which is not sufficiently funded... but which needed to exist."

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- Gustavo Pinheiro, senior associate for E3G in Brazil:

"We wouldn't even have knowledge about climate change," without the COP process, Pinheiro told AFP.

"Knowing the facts of climate change is a result of the convention, of this process. Yes, the negotiations are tough, yes it takes a long time, yes it's hard to coordinate and build a consensus among 195 parties, but it's the best humanity has managed to do to solve the problem. And at least we know the problem."

"It's the same with democracy, yes there are challenges, but it's the least worst system of governance that we managed to put together."

- Laurence Tubiana, architect of the Paris accord

"All the people who are around the table are lawyers, they know that when they sign something, it will have to then be implemented," Tubiana told AFP.

"Perhaps we could say, when it comes down to it, that no one is going to bring us before the Court of International Justice. But it can come up under our national laws, and in fact that happens. So people are careful about what they sign. It's a legal commitment."