Cop28, Melons in Dubai. The shadows of war on the summit

With the Prime Minister in flight, a team from Bambino Gesù and Gaslini lend a hand to their Emirati colleagues, involved in the treatment of injured Palestinian children arriving from Gaza

The shadows of war in the Middle East are lengthening over the Cop28, the United Nations climate summit, a
Dubai. They have arrived from every corner of the planet in the United Arab Emirates as many as seventy thousand participantsthe highest number ever, with the inevitable repercussions of the case: hours of queuing, under a scorching sun, for delegates, journalists and professionals to collect their badges.

Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni arrived at Dubai’s Maktoum airport yesterday afternoon. On the presidential flight, with her and the Minister of the Environment Gilberto Pichetto Fratin, there was also a team of pediatricians from the Bambino Gesù and Gaslini hospitals, called to lend a hand to their Emirati colleagues involved in the treatment of injured Palestinian children arriving from Gaza. A collaboration to which another could soon be added: a field hospital in the Strip, which could see Italian and Emirati white coats together.

But apart from the aid – which has seen Rome on the front line since the first day of the crisis – just as the Cop27 in Sharm el-Sheikh had to deal with the war in Ukraine, so Cop28 in Dubai will inevitably be marked by the Middle Eastern crisis also on the issue of security, expressed – given the core business of the summit – above all in an energy perspective. On the other hand, the conflict, which arose after the Hamas attack on 7 October, monopolizes the attention of the Arab world, with knock-on effects also on the financial side, in this area linked above all to hydrocarbons and sovereign funds. And complete with a ‘roller coaster’ for the stock exchanges of Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

But even before the conflict broke out in the Middle East, Cop28 was preparing to embark on a path full of obstacles. Where the so-called ‘global stocktake’, or the first ‘coupon’ to the Paris climate agreement signed in 2015, marks deep red, without any appeal.

The objectives that the world’s leaders had set themselves in Paris, hit to death and still shocked by the Bataclan terrorist attack, launched a few days before the world event, were very far away. In addition to an 8-year budget that is depressing to say the least, the appointment of Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber as main master of ceremonies of the event, in the sights of environmentalists for his role also as CEO of the company, also contributed to casting shadows on the Dubai summit UAE oil company, global fossil energy giant, energies that the UN climate conference has always aimed to eliminate.

In Dubai – where we rely on a ‘strong’ message from Pope Francis, the environmentalist pontiff forced to withdraw at the last minute due to health problems – the Emirati presidency will seek redemption, starting from the expected announcement of an important contribution financial support to the Loss & Damage Fund, another central theme of COP28, i.e. the Fund financed by the richest countries and intended to compensate for losses and damage caused by climate change to the poorest nations. The Fund, inaugurated at COP27 in Sharm, was born in the wake of another experience in 2009 which strung together a series of betrayed promises: of the 100 billion dollars a year that polluting and richer countries should have paid to those of development and less responsible for the climate crisis, very few have been seen.

The objectives of the summit

In addition to the strong push for so-called ‘climate finance’, among the main objectives of the Emirati Presidency – reported in two Declarations to which Italy’s adherence was confirmed – are that of tripling, by 2030, the global installed capacity of energy production from renewable sources and doubling the global average annual rate of improvement in energy efficiency , bringing it from 2.2% to 4%; to strengthen attention to the link between climate change and the resilience of food systems, including national plans aimed at transforming food systems in the main national strategies on climate and the environment. Objectives for now on paper, which however involve long negotiations that will continue in Dubai, at ministerial level, until 12 December.

In addition to the tug of war between rich and poor countries on the topic of funds to be financed, the main negotiating issues at CoP28 concern increasing global ambition in terms of mitigation and expanding adaptation actions.

Meloni’s interventions

In this context the president Melons -now in its second Climate Conference- in addition to several bilateral meetings, has three public interventions on the agenda: today, at 1.30 pm local time (10.30 am in Italy) he will speak at the ‘Transforming Food Systems in the face of Climate Change’ event, during which the ‘Emirates Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems, and Climate Action’; Her speech at ‘Global Stocktake – Adaptation’ is scheduled for 4.30pm (1.30pm in Italy), while the following day the Prime Minister will speak at 11.30am (8.30am in Rome) in the plenary session. On the occasion of the global summit, Italy will offer a concert by the world-renowned Teatro alla Scala Orchestra in Dubai tomorrow evening to celebrate the friendship between Italy and the United Arab Emirates.

Precisely in view of the work of the Conference, last 10 October Meloni met the president of Cop28 Al Jaber in Rome, agreeing in particular on how climate change represents an important challenge for our planet and for humanity and requires action strong and ambitious by all States, in order to achieve the long-term objectives set out in the Paris Agreement.

The climate and energy themes at the center of the global summit are also intertwined with Italy’s focus on the African continent. In Dubai, Italy will confirm its commitments, reiterating its intention to allocate a large part of its Climate Fund to Africa. The Meloni government thus aims to lay the foundations for a central role in 2024, when Italy will hold the presidency of the G7. Before this appointment, at the end of January, the Italy-Africa summit will take place with which the government intends to reaffirm its strategic function, in a geopolitical key, in the heart of the Mediterranean.