Diverse Expert Perspectives on COP28: Urgent Calls for Genuine Climate Action

Experts have expressed their skepticism as the curtains closed on the recent COP28. Experts at the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), criticized the summit arguing it fell far short of addressing the urgent need for decisive action on climate change, further asserting that COP28 showcased a stark contrast between the demands of people power, science, and justice, and the concessions made to big polluters, despite attempts to present the summit as a success.

Nikki Reisch, CIEL’s Director of Climate & Energy Program, emphasized the critical choice faced by countries at COP28 between fossil fuels and life. She noted that the summit failed to deliver unequivocal commitments despite the momentum and scientific consensus supporting a clear signal on the phaseout of oil, gas, and coal. The absence of a concrete plan, free from loopholes or limitations, underlines the need for alternative governance spaces to achieve a fossil fuel phaseout that is comprehensive, fair, rapid, and adequately funded.

The experts pointed out that COP28 unfolded amid devastating climate chaos and unprecedented restrictions on freedom of speech and assembly. They condemned the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza, insisting that climate justice cannot be achieved without upholding human rights. The experts called for an immediate and permanent ceasefire, an end to illegal occupation and apartheid, and denounced the complicity of Western powers in silencing dissent.

Lili Fuhr, CIEL’s Director of the Fossil Economy Program, highlighted the deceptive nature of carbon capture and storage (CCS), which was presented as a technological savior. She argued that CCS and other so-called ‘clean’ technologies are distractions that do not address the root causes of the climate crisis. The fossil fuel industry’s influence, despite being met with a united front of science and grassroots power, remains a significant obstacle to progress.

An illustration by campaigners of the Canadian Environment law association during a demonstration for action

Sébastien Duyck, Campaign Manager for Human Rights and Climate Change, expressed concern
over the lack of inclusivity at COP28, with independent voices from the region being barred
while fossil fuel lobbyists were welcomed. He criticized the complicity of governments and the UN
authorities in the host country’s human rights abuses, emphasizing the need for robust measures
to prevent corporate capture in future climate summits.

Lien Vandamme, CIEL Senior Campaigner, argued that the COP28 agreement reflects wealthy nations’ persistent avoidance of responsibilities. The Loss and Damage Fund, while a step in the right direction, falls short of addressing widespread human rights violations resulting from decades of climate inaction. The experts underscored the hypocrisy in treating loss and damage finance as charity rather than an obligation.

Erika Lennon, CIEL Senior Attorney, commended the rejection of weak rules under Article 6 that would have undermined human rights and the chances of staying below 1.5°C. She emphasized that carbon markets should not be viewed as a substitute for real, grants-based climate finance to support developing countries in adapting to the climate crisis.

Mary Church, Senior Geoengineering Campaigner at CIEL, expressed alarm over promoting risky geoengineering technologies at COP28. She warned against the adoption of geoengineering technologies terming the dangerous distraction delaying the needed action of phasing out the fossil fuel era.

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