Activists protest against fossil fuel industry at COP28 climate summit

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Climate activists staged several small protests at COP28 on Tuesday against the presence of the oil, gas and coal industry at the U.N. climate summit and demanded an end to the use of fossil fuels, the major source cause of climate change.

While past U.N. climate talks have sparked huge public protest rallies, including 2021’s COP26 in Glasgow and 2015’s COP21 in Paris, this year’s protests have been muted in host United Arab Emirates that limits freedom of expression.

The U.N. and UAE are allowing pre-approved protests to take place at the COP28 venue. There have been no demonstrations so far outside the site. “We want to demand an end to all fossil fuels, including abated and unabated,” Zimbabwean activist Lorraine Chiponda, 37, told Reuters after speaking at a demonstration.

Countries that produce or rely on fossil fuels have emphasised the potential use of technologies to “abate”, or capture, the emissions rather than ending the use of them.
Chiponda argued that language calling for the phase-out of “unabated” fossil fuels was merely a distraction that would allow for their continued use. “We’re seeing a lot of greenwashing around the phase-out,” she said, expressing doubts that delegates would reach an agreement at the summit that would benefit the environment.

Governments at COP26 agreed to phase down the use of unabated coal, the most polluting of fossil fuels. This year, countries remain split over what role fossil fuels should play in the future.

The hosting of the summit in the oil-producing UAE has drawn criticism, as has the country’s decision to name Sultan Al Jaber, the CEO of state oil firm ADNOC, as COP28 president.

Al Jaber has made a point of including the fossil fuel industry at the summit, insisting that oil and gas companies should be part of discussions on tackling climate change.
Indigenous activist Thomas Joseph from California said he was worried that the fossil fuel industry was “leading the negotiations” toward a result that allowed them to continue “business as usual”.

Filipino activist Jainno Congon, 24, said carbon capture technologies were a “dangerous distraction” and a “fake solution” to tackle climate change. “I hope our leaders are listening right now,” he said.

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