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“COP28: Virtue Signaling with Real Consequences

The COP28 Climate Conference is not only a high profile event for the purpose of virtue signaling – it is doing real damage to the cause of climate change. By gathering world leaders to engage in a form of “climate theater,” it exacerbates existing issues and diverts crucial resources away from meaningful action. The official standing of the COP28 Climate Conference is to set binding goals for emissions reduction and to develop national climate strategies. But the reality of this summit is that it is mostly grandstanding. The event is little more than a showcase for world leaders to take the stage and express their commitments to reduce emissions without any real progress being made. In fact, many attendees of the conference use the platform to announce symbolic gains that have little to no impact on emissions, such as switching to renewable energy sources. Such announcements are often more symbolic than meaningful, and in some cases, are even counter-productive. For example, some leaders have announced plans to switch from coal to natural gas, which is still a fossil fuel. Not only does this type of activity divert resources away from meaningful action, but it also undermines the legitimacy of the summit. Even if all of the commitments made in the COP28 Climate Conference were followed, it would still leave us far short of the targets set out by the Paris Agreement. This lack of tangible progress inevitably leads to apathy. It encourages people to think that their actions are not meaningful and therefore reduces the impetus for real change. It also fuels the false belief that the climate crisis is already solved, so there is no need to invest more money or resources into it. The COP28 Climate Conference is a powerful platform with the potential to push the climate crisis to the forefront of global politics and to generate meaningful progress. However, as it stands, it is simply a reflection of how much further we have to go to meaningfully address the climate crisis. Unless we can refocus the summit to achieve tangible results, we will be missing out on the opportunity to actually fight the threat of climate change.