Before this year's UN climate conference COP-28 (30.11-12.12 2023) in the UAE, naïve activists and climatologists hoped for some new nature of negotiations between representatives of the countries of the world on the transformation of the existing global economic system, its excessive impact on the planet. This hope was due to two factors: 1) a sharp change in climate dynamics in 2023, which was recorded by the entire scientific community, and 2) the actual slippage of the global economic system, which requires a new massive stimulus for industry. Outside viewers saw the incentive in the grandiose mobilization of resources and finances for the intensive introduction of decarbonizing technologies and practices in all spheres of life, but this is on the assumption that there is some agreed motivation to protect the world from the consequences of 2C+ warming (hundreds of millions of climate refugees, flooded coasts, food crisis, etc. - all this has already been described in a number of authoritative scientific reports). In fact, it turned out that the new final agreement concluded at the conference is A paper fan that is blown on a burning house. And it could not be otherwise: significant transformations of the consumer-production world model require a qualitatively new global governance. Which at least requires a kind of political-ideological climate-green international and a qualitatively different form of global cooperation. Otherwise, only a quasi-cartel agreement/coordination of industrial policies and non-conflict "green" greenwashing investments are possible. Therefore, they decided not to save the planet quickly, but determined a temporary mechanism for calming the general public and an updated structure of the division of labor in the global energy sector. The super-rich, who have done the most to cause climate change, have mobilized to silence the voices of communities suffering from its consequences and divided the areas of earnings (Bill Gates, for example, signed an agreement on small nuclear reactors with the UAE, and nuclear power itself is getting a new renaissance and hastily inscribed in the state of green energy in recent months).
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and other climate scientists agree that phasing out oil, gas and coal is the only way to reduce global warming to about 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, and that unproven niche technologies for capturing greenhouse gases are delaying tactics and a diversionary maneuver that can, at best, contribute to a very limited contribution. But it was from representatives of such technologies that 400+ delegates came to the conference.
What has everyone achieved?
The hydrocarbon sector will buy for a short time the socio-political sedative for several more electoral cycles. The price is the massive use of an inefficient, material-intensive, but for the average person convincing technology for capturing GHGs (conditionally symbolically - as an additional exhaust system, by analogy with a car, glued to every oil rig, gas hub or coal mine). That's why the term was coined - " abated " hydrocarbons. The average viewer will be asked to calm down for a while for the climate future, based on the "reduction" formula: 1) Reduction one: hydrocarbon capital and consumer supply act on it business as usual, sweeping part of the "exhaust" back; 2) Reduction two: new green technologies in manufacturing and energy create a small dynamics of quarterly optimization of emissions in all possible sectors of the economy, only compensating for the physical growth of economies and populations; 3) Reduction three: consumers consciously make do with less, but "greener" and more expensive. The main task is to restart the high profit margins only in the businesses included in this new policy of "mitigation" and "adaptation". At the same time, the main thing was ensured - to prevent the possibility and necessity of talking about changing the way of life, how we produce and why we produce so much that is harmful to our climate (it is impossible for 8 billion consumers to painlessly approach the impact on the climate of at least 2 billion who inhabited the planet in the 1920s). The existing target need for energy, resources and destruction for this natural environment is not subject to revision.
At this time, the international scientific community tells us about the incredible -40% CO2 by 2030, which is necessary to stop at 1.5C. Unfortunately, this COP is only publicly bribing civil society, behind the scenes preparing to make money in a world of extreme weather and competing for a geoclimatically stable (safe) territory that is growing in value (Ukraine is one of them). It is not for nothing that the chairman of this year's conference, Sultan Al Jaber, emotionally said that there is no scientifically based calculation of the impact of the reduction in oil and gas production on the failure to achieve warming of 1.5C. And, surprisingly, he is right. This threshold has already been taken this year, and the existing inertia in the climate system is sufficient for 3C. Watch Obama's recent interview and the words of UN climate chief Simon Still: (op. cit.) "Without these conferences, we would be moving towards 5 degrees. Now we are heading to 3 degrees!" Representatives of extractive capital have sincerely come to a consensus that it is too late to rush with the Paris limits, but it is not worth saying this in public.
Business logic of the hydrocarbon sector.
Over the past ten years, the production of cigarettes has fallen by 24%, they have been replaced by electronic cigarettes (90% made in China), literally changing the market and pulling away the vector of capital accumulation from the old tobacco business. The same, albeit more slowly, will happen with the part of the transport sector, where road transport accounts for 50% of oil production. Oil companies are afraid of global agreements to reduce production, due to the possibility of someone else's asymmetrical competitive actions. Instead, they are satisfied with the addition of new capture technologies that could compensate for the natural gradual decline in demand by adding to their competitive advantages the status of a "catcher green company". In this situation, the owners of the relevant technologies (European and American companies) make money, and the oil companies themselves can increase their production on the principle of squeezing out other "non-green" players from the markets. It is for this scheme that one can indirectly learn from the "secret" letters from COP-28, according to which OPEC is against the wording of "reduction" in the agreement, but for "abated" as an acceptable term describing the capture and storage of CO2.
If the production of high-quality and cheap oil from Saudi Arabia+ "turns green" and increases by 1.5 times, then it is possible to exclude the Russian Federation (excluded from access to both technologies and agreements) from the global market and increase profits, because the global supply in barrels will be physically preserved. Several countries, including the UAE, Australia, Canada, Egypt, the EU, the US, Japan, and Denmark, have launched a "carbon management challenge" by announcing government support for CCUS and carbon dioxide removal (CDR) technologies. But even capturing 1.2 gigatonnes of CO2 accounts for only 3% of global emissions in 2022. Available capture technologies are, at best, a costly mismatch with a more urgent need to reduce emissions, and at worst, a cynical ploy by the fossil fuel industry to maintain its polluting status quo. Although the market is being created attractive: not trading in quotas (which will eventually disappear), but the opportunity for companies to buy the service of absorbing all their emissions - a carbon credit system for acquisition by other companies. These are crazy new opportunities to fight for the green consumer. Did you think that private absorption plants would work for free for the good of the world? "We believe our direct capture technology will be the technology that will help sustain our industry over time," said Vicky Hollub, chief executive of Occidental Petroleum. "It gives our industry a license to continue operating for 60, 70, 80 years, which I think will be very much needed."
The largest hydrocarbon producers have been offered a scheme to reduce production, but the buffer of change will be the "losers" oil and gas countries. There is a high probability that as such, they agreed on the Russian Federation, selling it as a domestic Chinese gas station.
What does this mean in the finale?
1) Nuclear power will flourish again, especially small reactor technology (promising for desalination of water in arid regions of rich countries);
2) "Hydrogen scheme" of hydrocarbon companies. Instead of emphasizing the production of hydrogen from nuclear power plants and wind farms as a battery-storage mechanism (at night and at peaks) and a convenient trading form of energy, an intermediate scheme for creating hydrogen from methane and then burning it as a cleaner analogue is envisaged (Britain is carried away by this idea). Convenience for both parties: American-Middle Eastern gas companies will receive a product with higher added value, Western (+Japan) equipment manufacturers will finally get at least some global hydrogen market. On the downside, such heating or industrial combustion will cost more and mean zero to reduce the impact on the climate;
3) Most are ready for non-public competition in the climate of 2C+ warming (+-2035). The goal of the Paris Agreement – to keep global warming well below 2°C – is already dead;
4) Climate change is real and rapid, because public imitation of obstruction can really motivate and influence the market transformations of dominant technologies in transport and energy and strongly influence consumer choices. As a result, the leaders on the "green agenda" received a geo-economic tool to break the usual competition;
5) The dynamics of climate change will not change in the near and medium future, it is predicted to have a negative impact on the world's numerous breadbaskets, it will exclude from circulation the life and economy of some of the densely populated territories of the world. Adaptation of climate-safe and conditionally safe territories remains outside the public discourse. The policy chosen at COP-28 leaves no chance for adaptation to numerous territories, and brings the competition for safe territories to a new level;
6) Competition for territories at the first stage (before real redevelopment) triggers a great chase of speculators for geoclimatically safe territories. This involves the launch of all mechanisms to undermine the financial stability of their owners.
Ukrainian farmers are already feeling this due to the specific price behavior of traders and the obscure use of blockers-protesters at the borders. The war has turned out to be a situational ally for the purpose of bankruptcy and redemption of assets of the Ukrainian agricultural sector, where the goal is not yet food at all.