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COP28 of Dubai: Summits are not the way

The last Climate Summit – and it has already been 28 – has once again left us traces of disappointments and deception. Many voices have highlighted the lack of ambition in the fight against climate change. Many have highlighted the incompatibility between those who are enriched by the exploitation of fossil fuels and the drive for their reduction or disappearance.

It is clear that the changes we are seeing in the climate in recent years are the result of human activities, especially in the Global North, related to burning fossil fuels and achieving excessive private economic performance. The violence of the climate crisis will force us to stop using fossil fuels in a short space of time. However, this road had long been planned, ensuring justice and well-being between the North and the Global South. Especially when severe symptoms of fossil fuel depletion are occurring. We had to wait 29 years until the Dubai summit in order to see, for the first time in the final resolution, so-called ‘fossil fuels’ in a diffuse manner. This scandal reflects the limited influence of human and natural victims in the pockets of those who support this criminal system.

If we look at the content of the final resolution of this Summit, we consider the lack of concreteness around the roadmap to “leave fossil fuels” beyond the strategy of “tripling renewable energies in seven years” to be important. That's the key. To eliminate fossil fuels, both in Dubai and in Navarre, the only way is to replace them with renewable energies based on electricity. And the effectiveness of this measure, or the feasibility of renewables taking over the energy modes we use today, is never questioned.

It should not be forgotten that today world and Navarro energy consumption is mainly based on fossil fuels. According to the latest energy balance of the Government of Navarra in 2021, fossil fuels accounted for 79% of the total primary energy consumption in our community. So almost 80 percent of the energy we consume is fossil fuels, and 20 percent is renewables. And at state, European and global level, the figures are even worse for renewables.

The "transition" we want to make seems impossible as we try to maintain the high energy consumption we make in the countries of the Global North.

Thus, the "transition" that is intended, that is, to move from fossil to renewable fuels in a few years, seems impossible to us as we try to maintain the high energy consumption that we make in the countries of the Global North, driven by the logic of private economic benefit. And not only because of the enormous figures we have mentioned in the previous paragraph, but also because of the difficult problems of renewable energy. We believe that the political and economic powers that propose the transition to renewable energies need to analyse the difficulty of integrating these energies into electricity consumption, as well as the problem of electricity not being adapted to current energy consumption, as important scientists are reporting.

These are the shortcomings and problems of renewable energies that are being observed in Navarra, which is a pioneer in this type of energy. There is nothing but official data: the large storage sites for this type of energy are increasingly destroying our territory and greenhouse gas emissions have not decreased at all. In fact, data from the Government of Navarra in 2021 show that CO2 emissions have increased by 11.88% since 1990 and in 2021 by 8.61% compared to 2020. Likewise, the sectors that have increased their emissions coincide with the most unsustainable ones: transport (which has grown by 15.39%), where road transport is prioritised over the railways, while driving the APR for passengers, and agriculture and livestock (with an increase of 17.96%), where an agricultural and industrial model with intensive exploitation and high macro-finance is promoted.

It is therefore clear that the increase in renewable electricity production infrastructures does not serve to reduce emission levels. And, therefore, more needs to be done, not just to say that we have to "triple renewables", as if that were simple, scalable at a global level, adapted to human needs and used to reduce polluting emissions.

That is why we cannot make ostrich. If we really have to react to climate change, we must put an end to the use of fossil fuels, without falling into the false solutions that Green Capitalism proposes to us to maintain current production and consumption measures. Solidarity between countries, the need to integrate into ecosystems and the balance between the North and the Global South in terms of welfare leads us to reduce our material and energy consumption. All this must be reflected in all activities, both productive and reproductive. And in Navarra we are not on the right path.

It is not an easy task, but it is necessary and feasible. This means that we cannot stand idly by in the face of social and environmental degradation. We must continue to build and experience new collective values and practices alternatives to the current capitalist alternative that further accentuates the climate emergency and social inequalities.

In this sense, the generation of dynamics and proposals that propose new alternatives from different areas is encouraging. The Subai Erakuntza Foundation is also studying proposals for action that allow us to act from a concrete and collective scope in the transformation of the current system and in the care of life on the planet. These proposals were outlined at the time and are now being studied in depth. Because that's the way, not the peaks capitalism wants us to climb.

Nerea Martiarena and Martin Zelaia, representing Subai Erakuntza Fundazioa.

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