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VICTOR JOECKS: COP28 climate summit seeks a ‘License to Kill’

If you’re looking for the next James Bond villain, check out Dubai.

On Thursday, the U.N. Climate Change Conference, known as COP28, began in the United Arab Emirates’ largest city. One goal of the summit is “achieving net- zero emissions by 2050.” In the near term, U.N. climate officials want a 43 percent reduction in emissions by 2030, compared to 2019 levels. The summit website says that is “critical to limit temperature rise by 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of this century.”

More than 70,000 people are expected to attend the summit. That includes heads of state such as King Charles III, billionaires such as Bill Gates and celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio. Vice President Kamala Harris and Climate Envoy John Kerry will represent the United States.

As long as he left his X-ray eyeglasses behind, it’s a group Bond would feel comfortable mingling with as he searched for his adversary. But in this case, 007 would face a vexing problem. There are just too many possible suspects.

The most obvious are the comically hypocritical. It’s easy to miss it behind the buzzwords, but “net-zero emissions by 2050” would require the elimination of almost all fossil fuels. Your gasoline-powered car and air travel — banned. Cheap, reliable electricity — gone. Air conditioning when the sun goes down — “Dr. No” won’t allow it.

Yet, these “GoldenEyes” had no problem flying into Dubai. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, King Charles and Foreign Secretary David Cameron didn’t just come in on a private jet. They each took their own private jet. Even Auric Goldfinger didn’t have that kind of hubris.

Another villain possibility is Sultan Ahmed Al-Jaber, who is conference president and head of UAE’s national oil and gas company. As the host country, UAE runs the negotiations and picks the conference president. The BBC recently reported that leaked documents showed UAE planned to discuss oil and gas deals during the conference with more than a dozen nations. The “For Your Eyes Only” information showed it wanted to discuss joint natural gas projects with China. They must have wanted to “Live and Let Die.”

Bond would eventually realize the super-villain has to be U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Meeting the world’s climate goals “requires the tearing out the poisoned root of the climate crisis: fossil fuels,” he said two weeks ago.

This would be “A View to a Kill.” Around 60 percent of U.S. power generation came from fossil fuels in 2022. Almost half of the rest came from nuclear power. Just 13.6 percent came from wind and solar combined. Eliminate fossil fuels and you’re looking at the “Spectre” of mass starvation and societal breakdown. Just look at how Europe struggled when it lost access to Russian natural gas. It’d be worse in the world’s poorest countries, where hundreds of millions are on the brink of starvation.

That would be a lot worse than the temperature going up a couple of degrees. There are plenty of reasons to be skeptical of those predictions, too.

Gadgets from Q are one of the reasons Bond survives his adventures. That’s the insight on which COP28 attendees should be focused. See how human ingenuity can solve problems instead of trying to scare “The Living Daylights” out of people.

Contact Victor Joecks at vjoecks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on X.

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