World leaders arrive at COP28. Photo: The President's office, Maldives/CC
World leaders arrive at COP28. Photo: The President's office, Maldives/CC

Mark Best, Socialist Party National Committee

The COP UN climate change conference is under way in Dubai. Every year world leaders gather to rub their hands and discuss the various climate records smashed in the last year, the dire consequences of a heating planet for millions of people and agree that something should be done about it – as long as it’s not them.

This year’s president, UAE climate envoy and fossil fuel chief executive Sultan Al Jaber, has been a useful pantomime villain for others to point at and say, ‘well we’re better than him at least.’ Questioned about the need to phase out fossil fuels to prevent global temperatures from increasing by an average of 1.5°C, he answered that there is “no science” for this “unless you want to take the world back into caves.”

But are the British politicians who flew over to the summit in separate private jets any better? They certainly win out in the hypocrisy contest. Prime minister Rishi Sunak, during the less than twelve hours he spent in Dubai, claimed other countries were grateful for the work the UK had done so far as a climate leader. This comes after abandoning net-zero pledges, failing to secure any new offshore windfarms by relying on big business to invest, and giving the go ahead to increased oil and gas extraction in the North Sea.

But would Keir Starmer, who claimed that under a Labour government the UK would be back to playing a “leading role” in talking climate change, be much better? He has U-turned multiple times on pledges for climate investment, pushing the much-needed promised funds further into the future! Starmer and shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves are committed to “iron-clad fiscal rules”, which means they won’t be investing what is needed as they do the bidding of the bosses.

And can we really take any lessons from King Charles about the need to do more to prevent climate change while he sits in a golden chair weighed down by baubles and trinkets?

2,400 fossil fuel lobbyists attending COP28 – another record broken!

Al Jaber’s frankness shows the reality of climate chaos under capitalism. While the capitalist class makes massive profits off the back of polluting industries and compete against each other on national and world stages, maintaining living standards for working-class people and taking action against climate chaos is a pipe dream.

The announcement of potential clean energy funds from COP28 shows the bosses are only interested when they can make a profit, generated by the exploitation of working-class people around the world.

Capitalism means climate chaos, and politicians across the world that act in the interests of capitalism will mean more of the same limited action while global temperatures increase and with them extreme weather, droughts and famine.

Socialist change across the world, in which the working class owns and makes use of the world’s resources to provide a decent standard of living, is essential to undo the mess that’s been made of the environment in the dash for profit.