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Backtracking

The COP28 climate summit is underway in Dubai. Few are hopeful any major breakthrough will be achieved to reverse global warming.

This international effort, after all, is accumulating a long record of failure. Climate activist Greta Thunberg has dismissed this summit as nothing more than “talk, talk, talk.”

COP28 is being held against a most striking backdrop: 2023 will be the hottest year on record. There could be no more emphatic testament of the world’s failure to save itself.

This UN-sponsored climate summit had set a clear goal: to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees centigrade over pre-industrial levels. On that single goal, the world is failing. Over the next few years, the planet is expected to heat up as much as 2.8 degrees.

There are consequences to that failure. Severe weather will be even harsher. The ice caps and glaciers will melt at a faster rate. Sea levels will rise, submerging many coastal cities. Small island countries will sink into the sea. Coral reefs will die off. Droughts will produce a global food crisis.

Instead of moving ahead in concert, countries have made uneven progress in cutting carbon emissions. Some, by the UN’s own assessment, have been “backtracking” on their climate commitments.

One organizer for COP28 admits that this year, “we are seeing much lower commitment from countries.” That is not good news.

In the previous climate summits, many countries tended to over-promise and under-deliver. This year, they will likely promise less and deliver even lesser.

A few years ago, the industrial economies, finding it hard to tame their own carbon emissions, committed $100 billion a year to fund mitigation projects elsewhere in the world. That has yet to materialize. With recession looming in the industrial economies, it is unlikely the fund will be amply met anytime soon.

Many poor countries are looking to this climate fund to improve investment inflows into their economies. They clamor for it under the name of “climate justice.” But that has done little to encourage the rich economies to open their purse strings.

The UN has set 2050 as the target for achieving “carbon neutrality” – a condition where as much carbon is taken from the

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