Search hashtag #COP28 on your favorite platform, and you’ll find countless photo ops and video shorts from social media influencers, celebrities and celebrity-linked entrepreneurs like Stella McCartney with her Sustainable Market of luxury couture in the Green Zone at the Conference of the Parties in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
What does this gathering of the rich and famous along with global leaders, converging on one of the world’s wealthiest and most beautiful cities, have to do with conditions back in East Tennessee? The ultimate problems and solutions are universal.
COP28 is a United Nations gathering of world representatives seeking solutions to the climate crisis. The central premise is how to limit Earth’s average temperature to not more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial times. The hope is to curb further danger to people and the planet, making it more livable in years to come. While much fanfare surrounds it, the core of the event is discussions, debates and negotiations among nations.
The United States sent its official announcement of support via a visit to Dubai December 2 by Vice President Kamala Harris, who said in part: “President Biden and I made the largest climate investment in the history of our country … we are building and expanding hundreds of solar panel, wind turbine, electric vehicle and battery manufacturing plants; we are laying thousands of miles of high-voltage transmission lines to deliver clean energy to every corner of our nation; and we are lowering emissions not only in energy and transportation but in industry, agriculture, buildings and construction.”
The Biden-Harris administration also said new Environmental Protection Agency standards will greatly reduce methane emissions from oil and gas operations. Vice President Harris announced a $3 billion pledge to the UN’s Green Climate Fund for developing countries. The US has also used COP28 as a time to unveil its new US Greenhouse Gas Center. The graphically evocative site brings together data from multiple science agencies as a tool for finding climate solutions.
Global leaders are looking for universal solutions that include standards for lower-emission manufacturing, health concerns for communities and even soil health. Meanwhile, individual agriculture innovators are already practicing regenerative farming practices back here in East Tennessee, and some businesses are already choosing solar for cleaner energy.