The United Nations issued a new warning about the threatening pace and scale of climate change as the COP28 climate summit began Thursday in Dubai, UAE.
The U.N. climate body has cautioned that this year’s average global temperatures is already 1.4° Celsius (2.6° Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial averages, and 2023 is on track to be the hottest year ever.
“We are living through climate collapse in real time—and the impact is devastating,” U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres warned in a video statement on the first day of the 28th annual COP (Conference of Parties) summit.
It was at the Paris summit in 2015 (COP21) where members committed to keep the average global temperature below 2° Celsius at most.
While opening the COP28 summit, host Sultan Al-Jaber of the United Arab Emirates urged member countries to live up to their commitments.
In Dubai, leaders are expected to discuss their progress, or lack thereof, in limiting global warming to 1.5° Celsius (2.7° Fahrenheit) over preindustrial levels.
But there is huge controversy over whether phasing out fossil fuels will be part of any agreements reached at COP28.
Documents leaked earlier this week revealed that the UAE planned to use its position as host country to strike oil deals with 15 other countries—despite the United Nations’ directive that hosts of the annual summit act without bias or self-interest.
Al-Jaber, COP28 president designate and chief executive of the UAE state oil company ADNOC (Abu Dhabi National Oil Company) has hit back against those allegations, calling them “false, not true, incorrect, and not accurate.
However, when first asked by reporters about the leaked documents, the UAE’s COP28 team said, “private meetings are private,” adding that its work has been focused on “meaningful climate action.”
Vice President Harris is set to attend the summit on Friday and Saturday. She’ll be standing in for President Biden who is skipping the even for the first time since he took office in 2021.