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The Conference of the Parties, the annual UN climate conference, was held in a major oil and gas exporting country only twice, compared with 14 in Europe and four times in Germany alone. So, the decision to base 2023’s Cop28 in the UAE is a chance for a more constructive dialogue.

Many have commented on the apparent “irony” of awarding Cop28 to a leading global oil and gas exporter, without noting the irony that Europe’s largest consumer of coal has hosted the event four times.
As novelist Jessi Jezewska Stevens writes in Foreign Policy about the difficulty of depicting climate change in fiction, “narratives of disaster or the victory of good over evil unfold according to simplified moral schema and in realms beyond individual control”. There are a few villains, merchants of doubt and disinformation.

But the real story of the struggle against climate change is the struggle against ourselves: the difficulty of retooling a global economy that has brought unprecedented living standards and opportunities to most of humanity, although not all.

It is very easy to blame a few big and faceless corporations and foreign countries for climate change; much harder to admit that everyone with a modern lifestyle relies on fossil fuels. But individual exhortations to virtue – to cycle, go vegan, avoid flying and recycle – are negligible unless adopted near-universally. So, we need collective action driven by acknowledgement of the problem and a joint will that results in global governments and citizens doing whatever it takes.