Your Guide To COP 28

All you need to know about being gaslit on climate.

Your Guide To COP 28
Photo by Marcus Kauffman on Unsplash

All you need to know about being gaslit on climate.

The annual international Conference Of Parties on the topic of our changing climate is about to begin. This much ballyhooed effort to gaslight us that meaningful efforts are being made to prevent global catastrophe will celebrate its 28th year by being hosted by one of the world’s biggest oil producing (and human rights abusing) nations and chaired by a former oil company executive. 

As in previous years, a mighty army of fossil fuel lobbyists will be in attendance, laughing as they enjoy the catered food and pour gasoline on any hope you might have ever had of still enjoying productive agriculture two decades from now. They’ll be inside the security lines rubbing shoulders with “leaders” who have been accelerating the world towards unliveable and show no sign whatsoever of meaningfully slowing down now. Oil industry insiders will conveniently outnumber environmental activists desperate to preserve even some shred of a liveable ecosystem by a wide margin, and those hopeless tree huggers will for the most part be contained outside of the main event where they can be more easily ignored. A handful of them, though, will be invited within to offer sound bites to TV cameras for arsonists to appear briefly sympathetic towards. Art or music or giant puppets or whatever other sorts of creative expression activists use to beg for a liveable future will be photographed by media for archival in the International Museum of Most Ignored Entreaties. 

Scientists will speak with intense desperation about system collapse, repeating the same dire warnings they’ve now consistently issued for generations, wringing their hands and trying to hold back tears while citing this year’s horrific new broken extreme weather records. Ecocide made flesh will nod somberly in their audience while looking at porn on their phones. 

Representatives of poor nations on the front lines of the devastation will plead with wealthy countries to not completely finish wiping them from the face of the Earth just to maximize this quarter’s shareholder profits. And anyone with the capacity to help them will honour the seriousness of the moment by not rolling their eyes hard enough to throw them from their chairs until they’re good and drunk later that evening. 

Then will come the main event, the power players from the wealthiest nations. Representatives of an obscenely wealthy ultra minority who might as well be fire elementals from a Dungeons and Dragons game at this point, gleefully igniting all they touch as they dance from whim to whim leaving nothing but ashes in their wake. They will offer up their best personal performances delivering climate responsibility Mad Libs, because all their speechwriters have had to do is take the empty promises from previous years and shuffle the words around a bit to make them appear fresh. More ambitious leaders (if we take ambitious to mean trying to appear progressive to shore up slumping poll numbers) will go even farther by updating previous empty promises with slightly more ambitious and thus slightly more encouraging and yet still equally empty promises.

Politicians will laud and applaud the flashy three-ounce-capacity Bespoke water pistols with which they propose to extinguish the biggest raging blaze in the entire history of our species. The most minor and functionally insignificant pro climate measures will be rhetorically inflated to collossal size while every gram of emissions they actually reduced fails to offset an extra ton of emissions added to the mix while we played up our tokenism. 

Then they’ll go home and continue expanding fossil fuel production – which is already far, far too big to allow our species to ever have nice things again – to a state of even bigger than that. Just as happened after every other COP, false reassurances will be enough to encourage a lot of clapping on backs. Proclamations will be made that this year’s hollow words on paper finally represent real progress, and global emissions and temperatures will both go up for yet another year. 

Money will talk. Science will walk. The future will suck it. Our planet will burn. 

But did you see that great photo of Joe Biden shaking hands with Greta Thunberg? The whole disinformative pageantry of this ghastly annual event almost feels worth it just for that, right? It’s so inspiring! She even looks as if she’s trying to pretend he’s not hammering the very last nail into our ecosystem’s coffin! Maybe we should hang a framed copy of it on the living room to reassure us while our house burns down. 

But don’t think that just because you were trapped on the outside looking in that it means your concerns were absent from the table. Those last few niggling details of our guaranteed salvation that unavoidably failed to be worked out this year through no fault of anyone’s intentions will have to wait until next year, but we’ve heard loud and clear that you don’t think an oil guy should be running the show. 

So enjoy looking forward to next year’s COP 29, which will be a joint event with the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new world’s biggest oil refinery and hosted by COP’s new president, Hexus, the pollution monster voiced by Tim Curry in the movie Ferngully. 

See! Everything is being taken care of. 

Don’t be so negative all the time. 

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