Over the past two weeks, world leaders have been meeting in Dubai to discuss strategies to tackle climate change at the 28th annual UN climate summit (COP28). The aim of the conference is to reignite enthusiasm in achieving the goal of limiting global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius. However, the summit has not been without controversy.
Critics have pointed out the irony of hosting COP28 in Dubai as the United Arab Emirates is one of the top 10 oil producing nations. The country even went so far as to name the CEO of the state-owned oil company, Sultan al-Jaber, as the president of the COP28 summit. The oil company is in the process of expanding their production. Climate activists are enraged that the very people who are at the core of the climate crisis, the oil lobby, are leading these talks. Environmental activist, Greta Thunberg, has previously accused the UN summits of greenwashing, or promoting environmental policies without actually following through on the changes needed to stop climate change.
Additionally, the lack of equal representation in the negotiations at COP28 has frustrated feminist climate justice advocates. Over the past ten years, women’s representation in the UN climate summit has increased only marginally, from 30% to 35%. The second week of COP28 featured a panel of women leaders and activists that discussed the existing gender gaps and the disproportionate impact of climate change on women and girls. A new report from UN Women was released and found that by 2050, climate change may force 158 million more women and girls into poverty. However, if women do not have a seat at the negotiating table, panels such as these are simply performative.