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  • Robert Hinkley

That's Not What COPS Are For

By Robert C. Hinkley

30 November 2023

The headline in this morning’s Washington Post, read “The UAE has Big Plans for a ‘Success Story’ at the COP28 Climate Talks.” (

The story talked about how this COP wasn’t going to focus on reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions or reducing carbon in the atmosphere. That had been tried with the previous 27 COPs and failed. This year it’s going to be about the petro-states and other rich countries financing recoveries in poorer regions which will suffer catastrophic

Photo by Marcus Spiske

events as a result of climate change.

It reminds me of the 1980s on Wall Street. Those were the times of the since failed investment bank, Drexel Burnham Lambert, headed by the “Junk Bond King” and later jailed, Michael Milken. Back then Drexel and Milken used to hold an annual conference of corporate raiders and their financiers to engage in excess and discuss new opportunities. They called it “The Predator’s Ball.”

For too long we’ve laboured under the false impression that finance was one of the ways the climate crisis was going to be solved. The industry now boasts that more than $30 trillion of investment funds are under socially responsible management. Yet, carbon levels in the atmosphere are higher than anytime in recorded history. Simply put, socially responsible finance has done little to solve the biggest corporate generated environmental problem of all time.

Now it’s angling to take advantage of the situation by financing disaster recoveries in countries hit the hardest. Though today portrayed as altruism, you can expect that, down the road, those providing the funding will demand a return on their investments. Some would call it predatory lending. COP28 is shaping up as The Predator’s Ball II.

That’s not what COPs are for. Their purpose is to find a way to stop the emissions. Twenty-seven times they’ve tried and failed, but that doesn’t mean there is no solution. See, Delegates to COP 28 should try again. Not throw their hands up and invite the perpetrators of the disaster in to feast on its victims.

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