Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday November 30, 2023
Navigating Diplomacy at COP28: Guilbeault’s Uphill Battle
As the world anticipates the United Nations summit on climate change, the focus broadens beyond the global initiatives to combat environmental challenges, delving into the intricate dynamics of diplomacy within the conference halls. Canada’s Environment Minister, Steven Guilbeault, once a fervent advocate for climate action, now faces a unique challenge as he steps into the complex tapestry of COP28.
Guilbeault’s journey through COP28 takes an unexpected turn with the presence of Premier Danielle Smith and Premier Scott Moe of Alberta and Saskatchewan. Their approach to the conference diverges from the global narrative of reducing reliance on fossil fuels, appearing more inclined towards sustaining the fossil fuel industry in their provinces.
Premier Smith ardently champions Alberta’s “clean” fossil fuel industry, particularly emphasizing carbon capture and storage (CCS) as a solution to cut emissions. However, recent reports from the International Energy Agency cast doubt on the global efficacy of CCS, challenging its status as a transformative solution.
As Premier Smith confidently strides into COP28, accompanied by over a hundred Alberta delegates, the inherent conflict of interest becomes apparent. The conference, hosted by Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, CEO of the UAE’s national oil company, ADNOC, and the UAE’s climate envoy, raises suspicions of a conflict of interest, especially with leaked documents indicating Al Jaber’s intention to broker oil and gas deals during the conference.
This sets the stage for an uncomfortable encounter between Smith and Guilbeault. Smith’s dismissal of Guilbeault as a “maverick” who “doesn’t seem to care about the Constitution” adds a layer of tension. While the federal government’s alignment with Alberta on promoting carbon capture and storage might offer a semblance of common ground, Smith’s move to invoke the sovereignty act against federal Clean Electricity Regulations hints at a deeper divide.
News: COP28: UAE planned to use climate talks to make oil deals
Guilbeault, tasked with advancing Canada’s commitment to fighting climate change, finds himself navigating a complex diplomatic landscape. As Premier Smith revels in her pro-oil-and-gas message, Guilbeault stands at the forefront, grappling with the clash between provincial and federal interests. It’s a delicate dance where finding common ground may prove elusive, especially considering the apparent disparity between the goals of the Prairie premiers and the broader global agenda for sustainability.
In this complex diplomatic ballet at COP28, Guilbeault represents the struggle to reconcile conflicting interests for the greater environmental good, a task that becomes even more challenging in the face of the unabashed promotion of fossil fuels under the guise of environmental responsibility by Prairie premiers.
The challenges at COP28 are not just about the global fight against climate change but also the nuanced struggles within the delegation halls. Steven Guilbeault finds himself at the heart of this intricate dance, striving to balance conflicting interests while championing the broader environmental agenda. (AI)