The COP27 agreement will do little to avoid future climate change disasters

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SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt — Sunday marked a turning point in addressing the final outcome of the UN climate change conference. The dangers that are already destroying the earth But it was done Little progress has been made in measures to reduce emissions It can prevent even worse disasters.

It was a double-edged decision for the talks, as many rich countries argued for deeper, faster climate action, while poorer countries said they first needed help dealing with the effects of warming, largely driven by the industrialized world. .

Even diplomats and activists at the summit, known as COP27, praised him A financial creation Many worried that countries’ reluctance to adopt more ambitious climate plans to support vulnerable nations after disasters left Earth on a dangerous warming path.

“Many parties are not ready to make much progress today in the fight against the climate crisis,” EU climate chief Franz Timmermans told exhausted negotiators on Sunday morning. “What’s in front of us is not enough of a step forward for people and the planet.”

The tentative agreement, reached after a year of climate disasters in Egypt and weeks of fraught negotiations, underscores the challenge of getting the entire world to agree to swift climate action while many powerful countries and organizations invest in the current energy system.

UN negotiators have reached an agreement to help countries vulnerable to climate disasters

Rob Jackson, a climate scientist at Stanford University and head of the Global Carbon Project, said it was inevitable that the world would exceed what scientists consider a safe warming threshold. The only questions are how much and how many people will be affected as a result.

A study Released in the middle of the COP27 negotiations Last year’s conference found few countries followed through on a requirement to raise their emissions-cutting pledges, and the world is on the brink of burning more carbon than it can bear – pushing the planet over a threshold scientists say the Collapse of ecosystems, Extreme weather increases And Widespread hunger and disease.

Jackson blamed entrenched interests, short-sighted political leaders and general human apathy for delaying action toward the more ambitious goal he set in Paris in 2015. Limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.

“It’s not just COP27, but all other COPs since the Paris Agreement that have lacked action,” he said. “We’ve been bleeding for years now.”

This year’s conference unfolded amid dire circumstances. The ongoing effects of the coronavirus pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have sparked a global economic crisis and governments scrambling to provide energy and food to their citizens. The world’s two biggest emitters — the US and China — aren’t talking to each other.

Developed countries have not provided financing to developing countries, and are already years behind schedule, undermining the collective trust needed to secure a meaningful agreement.

In general, the UN Acting as the moral compass of the negotiations, civil society activists faced unprecedented restrictions on their ability to protest due to the country’s tight restrictions on public gatherings. News conferences highlighting the link between human rights and the climate crisis Interrupted by shouting matches Regarding the imprisonment of political prisoners in Egypt.

Meanwhile, several world leaders, including the conference’s Egyptian hosts, took advantage of the event to encourage their fossil fuel supplies and create new energy deals. COP27 President Sameh Shogri called natural gas “a transitional energy source” that could facilitate the transition from fossil fuels to renewables.

A private gathering of African leaders during the conference showed how difficult it is for developing countries to abandon exploitation. Profitable fossil fuel reservesEspecially when they have trouble attracting investors for other, more sustainable projects.

“Africa needs gas,” said Akinwumi Adesina, president of the African Development Bank, as the room erupted in applause. “We want to make sure we have access to electricity. We don’t want to become a museum of poverty in the world.

But Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change This year, the world cannot build any new fossil fuel infrastructure to have any hope of meeting the 1.5 degree warming target. Although burning natural gas produces fewer emissions than burning coal, the production and transportation process can lead to leakage of methane, a potent climate pollutant.

In the closed-door consultation, diplomats from Saudi Arabia and other oil and gas producers pushed back against language that called for a phase-out of all polluting fossil fuels, according to several people familiar with the talks who spoke on condition of anonymity. To discuss personal issues. Many of the same countries opposed the plan, which would open the door for countries to set more frequent and ambitious emissions-reduction targets across specific industries and their entire economies.

“We went to the mitigation workshop and it was five hours of trench warfare,” New Zealand climate minister James Shaw said. “Keeping in line is hard work.”

While an unprecedented number of countries – including India, the US and the European Union – called for a COP decision to reflect the need to phase out polluting oil, natural gas and coal, the overarching agreement was reiterated. Last year’s deal in Glasgow On the need for “unmitigated coal power grid-down”.

“It’s a consensus process,” said Shaw, whose country supported the fossil fuel phaseout language. “If there’s a group of countries like that, we won’t stand for it, it’s very difficult to do that.”

China, the world Largest annual contribution to global warming emissions, was in the background for most of the conference. Country did not join A coalition of more than 150 countries is pledging to curb methane, which is 80 times more polluting than carbon dioxide. And its diplomats ignored suggestions that the Chinese government should join developed countries in providing financial aid to vulnerable countries.

Delegates rejected a proposal by the European Union and its allies that would require all countries to start cutting their global-warming emissions by 2025.

Outside the negotiating rooms, an analysis by the advocacy group Global Witness showed a record number of fossil fuel lobbyists among those attending this year’s meeting. Climate justice activist Asad Rehman recalled meeting an industry executive on one of the conference shuttle buses who told him the COP was the best place to strike deals.

“We come to these negotiations and people think we’re talking about climate. We’re not,” said Rehman, executive director of the anti-poverty nonprofit War on Wands, which has called on the UN to establish a conflict-of-interest policy at climate conferences.

“The reality is that these climate negotiations speak to the political economy of the future,” he said. “Who will benefit and who will not? Who will survive and who will not? “

The study shows the world has nine years to stop catastrophic warming

Yet the historic agreement on funding for irreversible climate impacts – known in UN parlance as “loss and damage” – also shows how the COP process can empower the world’s smallest and most vulnerable countries.

Many observers believed that the United States and other industrialized nations would never take such financial responsibility for the trillions of dollars of damage caused by climate change.

But then A catastrophic flood With a third of Pakistan underwater this year, the country’s ambassadors led a negotiating bloc of more than 130 developing countries to demand that “financial arrangements for loss and damage” be included on the meeting agenda.

“If there is a sense of morality and equality in international affairs … there must be solidarity with the people of Pakistan and the people affected by the climate crisis,” Pakistani negotiator Munir Akram said in the early days of the conference. “It’s a matter of climate justice.”

Opposition from rich countries began to soften as leaders of developing countries made it clear they would not leave without loss and damage funding. As talks stretched into overtime on Saturday, diplomats from the small island states met with EU negotiators to broker the deal the countries eventually agreed to.

Kathy Jednill-Kijner, the climate ambassador for the Marshall Islands, said the success of the effort gave her hope that countries can do more to prevent future warming — which is essential if her tiny Pacific nation does not disappear into rising seas.

“We’ve shown we can do what we can’t with the loss and damage fund, so we know we’ll come back next year and get rid of fossil fuels once and for all,” he said.

Harjeet Singh, head of global political strategy for Climate Action Network International, sees another benefit of paying for climate impacts: It finally convinces major emitters to stop exacerbating the problem.

“COP27 has sent a warning shot to polluters that they can no longer get away scot-free with their climate destruction,” he said.

As many questioned whether Sunday’s agreement would change the overall warming trajectory, US special envoy for climate change John F. He worked to reach a final deal despite being forced to quarantine after contracting Covid-19 while in Kerry – Sharm el-Sheikh. – predicted that.

“Every tenth degree of warming avoided means less drought, less flooding, less sea-level rise, less extreme weather,” Kerry said. “This means lives are saved and losses are avoided.”

Timothy Buco and Evan Halber in Sharm el-Sheikh and Brady Dennis and Michael Birnbaum in Washington contributed to this report.

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