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Today was a short but important day, at the global climate conference in Dubai. It was a day of agenda-setting. The conference started at 1 pm local time with three very different messages from the opening session.

The former COP27 President provided a reality check that the science shows the world is NOT doing enough. The gavel was handed to the incoming COP28 President, Dr Sultan Al Jaber, who was optimistic and seemed to problematically suggest that he will push for continued use of fossil fuels. Then came the clarion call from the UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Simon Stiell: “Don’t come home without a deal that will make a real difference.”

The deal that will make a difference is a clear one that was echoed as a demand from activists, NGOs, and impacted community members in press conferences and events outside of the opening session: world leaders must commit to phasing out fossil fuels.

Biggest Take Away: The fossil fuel phase-out question is (implicitly) on the agenda. As Jean Su from the Center for Biological Diversity said at a press conference today, “For over thirty years, we have asked for the focus to be on fossil fuels, and we finally have that now.” She continued to ask everyone to leverage everything they can to “demand an actual solution to the climate emergency, which is to phase out fossil fuels.”

Best Thing to Watch: The Press Conference with the Center for Biological Diversity, Greenpeace MENA, Oil Change International, and IBON International.

What’s next? Vice President Kamala Harris will be in Dubai tomorrow and Saturday, an announcement made just this Wednesday after backlash from many upset that President Biden would not attend this year’s climate conference.

This is an especially critical moment for the Biden administration with his climate agenda in question. 

He has helped bring historic investment into renewable energy production and is expected soon to final major rules to cut methane. However, his administration’s continued push for new oil and gas facilities in Louisiana and Texas in the Gulf of Mexico and other oil & gas expansion across the US means President Biden is neither living up to his commitments to do what is necessary to tackle the climate crisis or center environmental justice in his administration’s decision-making.

Earthworks, NGOs, and community members directly impacted by fossil fuel expansion will seek to engage the Vice President and other administration officials while they are in Dubai.

Stay tuned.

 Center for Biological Diversity Opening Press Conference. From left to right: Ashwini Prabha of GGON, Jean Su of Center for Biological Diversity, Shady Khalil of Greenpeace MENA, Thuli Makama of Oil Change International, and Jax Bongon of IBON International.