COP28 Fossil of the Day Awards: Policy Reversals and Questionable Climate Priorities

Climate negotiations, a globally significant discourse, have encountered numerous challenges impeding progress. The Fossil of the Day Awards at COP28, announced by The Climate Action Network to highlight those contributing little to substantial climate achievements, were bestowed upon New Zealand, Japan, and the United States. Their actions are anticipated to have far-reaching implications for global climate efforts.

New Zealand’s U-Turn:

New Zealand’s decision to reopen Aotearoa waters to oil and gas exploration faced widespread criticism, tarnishing the country’s reputation as a champion for indigenous voices, guided by its founding treaty, and a proponent of the global phase-out of fossil fuels.

Climate Change Minister Simon Watts came under scrutiny for a decision signaling a setback to the indigenous people’s struggle and a reversal of the world-leading ban on new oil and gas exploration. This move, disregarding the profound climate consequences and exhibiting indifference to the concerns of Pacific neighbors, led to New Zealand receiving the ‘Fossil of the Day’ award at COP28.

Japan’s Greenwashing Tactics:

Japan earned the runner-up position for the ‘Fossil of the Day’ award due to initiatives perceived as greenwashing tactics. Minister Kishida’s campaign through The Asia Zero Emissions Community (AZEC) to sustain coal and gas plants using hydrogen and ammonia co-firing technology was criticized for potentially prolonging the life of such plants.

This could critically hinder decarbonization efforts and further jeopardize Japan’s transition to renewables, despite claims of contributing to global decarbonization.


US’s Misplaced Finance:

The United States labeled the ‘Belligerent Burden Shirker,’ secured a runner-up spot for its climate finance priorities. The meager pledge of $17.5 million to the Loss and Damage Fund was deemed inadequate, particularly given the country’s status as the largest historical emitter.

Criticism centered on prioritizing excessive military spending and tripling nuclear energy capacity by 2050 over funding relief for unavoidable climate impacts. The juxtaposition of substantial military aid for Israel and contributions to the war in Ukraine with a nominal Loss and Damage donation highlighted perceived hypocrisy in fund allocation.


The Fossil of the Day awards at COP28 spotlight ongoing challenges in global climate action. New Zealand’s policy reversal, Japan’s greenwashing tactics, and the United States’ misplaced finance underscore the complexities and competing priorities within climate negotiations.

As the international community grapples with urgent climate issues, these awards serve as a reminder of the critical need for transparent, sustainable, and equitable solutions to address the climate crisis. Reflecting on these countries’ actions encourages a reevaluation of priorities and a renewed commitment to achieving a livable and sustainable future

Leave a reply