COP28: A Climate Cop-Out

The resolution for the UN's COP28 in Dubai is just another compromise that places the needs of capitalist accumulation before the urgency of the deteriorating environmental situation. This isn't simply because of the conference's location in UAE, or Sultan Al Jaber, the conference’s president, being the chief executive of the state's oil giant ADNOC. This outcome is not at all dissimilar to every preceding conference since 1995, which have all revolved around the ever growing social cost of capitalism. The much lauded net-zero emission goal only covers unabated fossil fuels which means that the phaseout can be delayed and fossil fuel emissions will continue to grow. Keeping global temperature rise below the 1.5°C target is still disingenuously being kept as a priority despite its impossibility. The 2015 Paris target requires carbon production be halved by 2030. This is not happening in the slightest, as oil firms have been ramping up production to suit capital’s war preparations, and states such as the USA are emerging as a dominant exporter under the guise of democracy against Russia.

The resolution calls for nations "transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly and equitable manner, accelerating action in this critical decade”, and recommends limiting new coal power plants and increasing investments into the construction and modernization of green and renewable energy. It was recommended for states to increase investments into "low-emissions technologies, including … renewables, nuclear, abatement and removal technologies, such as carbon capture.” The COP28 resolution calls for tripling the capacity of nuclear energy output by 2050 and for states and financial institutions to prioritize it. Whether capitalist production is “green,” “low emissions,” or renewable energy, it will continue the expansion of greenhouse gas emissions; capitalism demands constant accumulation in order to properly function.

The closing resolution coincides with the war in Ukraine and increased imperialist tension, which has brought energy security to the forefront. Jens Stoltenberg, the head of NATO, has stated this explicitly, and seeks to end reliance on Russian oil and gas along with green energy components made with Chinese rare earth metals. This has nothing to do with reducing CO2 emissions. Rather, their drive for nationally determined solutions to contend with the multiplying crises can be seen with the Biden administration's commitment to reduce its dependence on OPEC.

While the Inflation Reduction Act put billions towards “green” energy (described there as “energy security”), production of more profitable fossil fuels increased. In 2023, the US became the largest liquefied natural gas exporter and is now producing more oil than any country in history, more than double what the US produced a decade ago. The US Energy Information Administration forecasts that oil and LNG extraction will both increase until 2050. By 2030, the US and Qatar are projected to account for half of the world’s LNG supply. This trend can be seen throughout the world. The Brazilian government’s Ministry of Mines and Energy forecasts that its already massive oil production will nearly double by 2030. Capitalists in Brazil have expanded oil extraction year after year, with 2023 breaking records (all this under the environmentalist hero of COP27, Lula da Silva). Production and use of fossil fuels will continue alongside green energy expansion and greenhouse gas offsets, a trend that is reinforced by, allows the expansion of, and gives a greater stake in imperialist conflict. According to US Climate Envoy John Kerry, “The increased production is a reflection of Ukraine, the effort to come back from Covid and the reflection of what happened with Russia cutting off all the gas to Europe… we’re sending a lot over there and other places to try to help them out.”

Criticism has arisen regarding the presence of over a thousand fossil-fuel lobbyists at COP28. However, the reality is that even in their absence, no substantive change would have occurred. First, the agreement is not binding on any of the nations involved. And even if it were, significant restrictions on fossil-fuel use would be ignored. It is far too profitable to use cheap energy sources for these nations to remain competitive in the global market without using them. And that’s the heart of the problem.

Capitalist states have to maintain profitability for their national capital or face ruin. As long as they exist, there is no way to solve our deepening environmental crisis. Only a society that does not require profit could ever hope to avert global environmental devastation. That is why there is no solution to the environmental crisis other than international proletarian revolution.

Communism or extinction!

The above article is taken from the latest issue of Internationalist Notes (#7 Winter 2024), bulletin of the Internationalist Workers’ Group.


Image: Fotografía oficial de la Presidencia de Colombia -, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Saturday, January 6, 2024