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The upcoming COP28 climate summit needs a strong global leader who prioritizes the well-being of humanity over personal or corporate interests. However, the current president, Sultan Al Jaber, who is the CEO of an oil company, raises doubts about his ability to address the urgent climate crisis. 

To tackle the devastating effects of climate change, we need to swiftly and fairly end the use of fossil fuels such as oil, gas, and coal. Al Jaber’s recent speech, suggesting the use of carbon capture and storage technology instead of phasing out fossil fuels, is unrealistic and goes against the goals of the Paris Agreement. 

The world needs to reduce emissions by 45 percent by 2030 to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, but carbon capture technology is not yet scalable or effective enough to achieve this. We don’t have time for unrealistic solutions that aim to protect the oil and gas industry. Prominent figures like the UN Secretary-General and the International Energy Agency have emphasized the importance of investing in renewable energy and discontinuing funding for new fossil fuel projects. 

The science is clear, and the goal is to shift away from fossil fuels towards clean energy, but we lack global leadership to make it happen. COP28 must be a turning point by acknowledging the central role of fossil fuels in the climate crisis and working towards a phase-out agreement. Additionally, there should be a significant increase in financial support from developed nations to the Global South for transitioning to renewable energy. 

The Loss and Damage Fund, established at COP27, also needs substantial funding to aid the poorest countries affected by climate change. Nevertheless, funding alone cannot compensate for the catastrophic consequences of the climate crisis resulting from continued fossil fuel use. The COP presidency must prioritize the interests of people, especially those suffering the most from climate change, rather than favoring national or corporate interests.

 In East Africa, the climate crisis is causing severe hardships, including widespread malnutrition and starvation. We may not be able to prevent the crisis entirely, but every effort to limit further warming is crucial. Each year without a rapid transition away from fossil fuels means more lives and livelihoods will be lost. In June, climate negotiators will meet in Bonn, Germany, to assess progress ahead of COP28. President Al Jaber must come prepared with a credible plan for decarbonization, as this is an opportunity to save countless lives. He cannot afford to miss this chance.

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