Greta Thunberg Calls COP28 Outcome a ‘Betrayal’


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“This COP has once again proven that the COP processes are not working in our favor,” the climate activist said.

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg called the outcome of the 28th United Change Climate Conference—which agreed to “transitioning away from fossil fuels” but stopped short of the phaseout demanded by civil society and climate-vulnerable nations—a “betrayal and a stab in the back.”

COP28 concluded in the United Arab Emirates on December 13. The outcome, also called the “UAE Consensus,” marks the first time that fossil fuels have made it into the final text to emerge from a U.N. climate summit. While some are celebrating this milestone, Thunberg was not impressed.

“The final outcome of COP28 is not a ‘historic win,'” she wrote on social media Friday. “It is yet another example of extremely vague and watered down texts full of loopholes that in no way is even close to being sufficient for staying within the 1.5°C limit and ensur[ing] climate justice.”

Speaking to Reuters at a protest outside the Swedish parliament on Friday, Thunberg said the agreement was the “bare minimum” and rejected the idea that it was a “first step.”

“We’ve already had first steps and they haven’t led us anywhere,” Thunberg said. “The emissions are still increasing. We are experiencing record highs.”

She also questioned the validity of U.N. climate negotiations.

“This COP has once again proven that the COP processes are not working in our favor,” she told Reuters. “They are not designed to solve the climate crisis. They are more working as an alibi for world leaders” to hide behind their signature on a document while continuing to do nothing.

“We need drastic immediate emission cuts and binding commitments from the largest contributors of the climate crisis to finance loss and damages, adaptation, and a just transition in the most affected areas.”

Thunberg’s remarks build on her criticism of COPs in recent years. She stopped attending the gatherings beginning with last year’s COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, which she called an opportunity for “greenwashing, lying, and cheating,” according to Euronews Green.

This year, she particularly criticized the fact that members of small island states were not in the room when the final deal was adopted.

Thunberg said this was “undemocratic” and “completely unacceptable.”

“We cannot talk about climate justice when without having the most affected in the room,” she told Reuters.

On her Friday social media thread, Thunberg outlined what she thought successful climate action would look like.

“We need drastic immediate emission cuts and binding commitments from the largest contributors of the climate crisis to finance loss and damages, adaptation, and a just transition in the most affected areas,” she said.

Thunberg’s remarks add to those of many other climate activists and scientists who have criticized the deal for falling short of ensuring the 1.5°C target, inadequately funding the renewable energy transition in the Global South, and allowing dangerous loopholes such as carbon capture and storage technology promoted by the fossil fuel industry as a way to keep pumping while promising to “abate” their emissions.

“Although the text mentions a transition away from fossil fuel energy systems in a just and equitable manner, the text is full of loopholes and false solutions on unproven and expensive technology like nuclear, abatement, carbon capture and storage, transitional fuels, etc.,” Philippines climate activist Mitzi Jonelle Tan said, as Euronews Green reported.

The group Scientist Rebellion put out a statement Friday calling for a global movement to keep fossil fuels in the ground.

“The United Nations climate summit, hijacked by the fossil fuel cartel, has gifted a blank check to rich countries and Big Oil to kill one billion people and force billions more to flee their homes by 2100,” the group wrote. “The so-called ‘historic’ outcome of COP28 fails to deliver the most basic and necessary measures which would have prevented societal and ‘Earth systems’ collapse, as outlined by the IPCC: eliminate fossil fuel subsidies and halt all new gas and oil projects.”

Their statement concluded: “It is time to listen to the scientists, hundreds of whom have been driven out of their labs and into the streets to engage in civil disobedience: If we want to avoid condemning both this generation and all that follow to the worst outcomes of the climate crisis, we must all rise together in order to keep fossil fuels in the ground. The time is now.”

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