The COP27 agreement does little to prevent future climate change disasters

The COP27 agreement does little to prevent future climate change disasters
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SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt — Sunday’s final decision at the U.N. Climate Conference made progress in addressing threats already ravaging the planet, but little progress on emissions reduction measures that could prevent even worse disasters to come.

It was a lopsided outcome of the talks, as many wealthy nations argued for deeper, faster climate action, and poorer countries said they needed help first to deal with the effects of warming, largely caused by the industrialized world. .

Even diplomats and activists applauded creation of the fund Many worried that nations’ reluctance to adopt more ambitious climate plans to support vulnerable countries after disasters put the planet on a dangerous warming path.

“Too many parties today are not ready to make more progress on the climate crisis,” European Union climate chief Frans Timmermans told exhausted negotiators on Sunday morning. “What we have in front of us is not enough of a step forward for the people and the planet.”

The unanimous agreement, which came after a year of record-breaking climate disasters in Egypt and weeks of intense negotiations, underscores the challenge of persuading the world to take swift climate action at a time when many powerful countries and organizations are investing in the current energy system.

UN negotiators have agreed to help vulnerable countries deal with climate disasters

Rob Jackson, a climate scientist at Stanford University and chairman of the Global Carbon Project, said it was inevitable that the world’s scientists would exceed the safe limits of warming. The only questions are how much and how many people will suffer as a result?

“It’s not just COP27, it’s the lack of activity at all the other COPs since the Paris agreement,” Jackson said. “We have been bleeding for years.”

He blamed entrenched interests, as well as political leaders and general human indifference, for delaying movement towards the most ambitious goal set in Paris in 2015. limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.

Analysis by advocacy group Global Witness found record numbers of fossil fuel lobbyists among attendees at this year’s conference. Many world leaders, including this year’s COP hosts Egypt, have held events with industry representatives and talked about natural gas as a “transition fuel” that could ease the transition to renewable energy. Although burning gas produces fewer emissions than burning coal, the production and transportation process can leak methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.

In closed-door consultations, diplomats from Saudi Arabia and other oil and gas-producing countries opposed proposals that would have allowed countries to set new and more frequent emissions reduction targets and called for a phase-out of all polluting fossil fuels. to many people with knowledge of the negotiations.

“We went into a mitigation workshop and it was five hours of trench warfare,” New Zealand’s Climate Minister James Shaw said, referring to discussions on a program designed to help countries meet their climate commitments and curb emissions across economic sectors. “It was hard work just holding the line.”

Humanity’s current climate efforts are insufficient to avoid catastrophic climate change. A study Published in the middle of the COP27 negotiations few nations have met last year’s conference call to increase emissions reduction commitments, and the world is on the brink of more than 1.5 degrees of warming – an overshoot, scientists say destruction of ecosystems, severe weather conditions and widespread starvation and disease.

The study shows that the world has nine years to avoid catastrophic warming

Sunday deal also does not reflect scientific reality, Illustrated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change This year, the world must rapidly reduce its dependence on coal, oil and gas. Even though an unprecedented number of countries, including India, the United States and the European Union, have called for the need to phase out all polluting fossil fuels, the general decision has only been reiterated. Last year’s contract in Glasgow about the need to “phase down unabated coal power”.

“It’s a consensus process,” said Shaw, whose country also supported fossil fuel divestment language. “If there is such a group of countries, we will not support it, it is very difficult to do.”

However, the historic agreement on a fund for irreversible climate damage – known as “loss and damage” in UN parlance – also showed how the COP process can strengthen the world’s smallest and most vulnerable countries.

Many observers believed that the United States and other industrialized nations would never make such a financial commitment, fearing liability for the trillions of dollars in climate change damage.

But then catastrophic floods Diplomats from the country, which left half of Pakistan under water this year, led a negotiating bloc of more than 130 developing nations to demand that “financial arrangements for damage and loss” be added to the meeting’s agenda.

“If there is a sense of morality and justice in international affairs… then there should be solidarity with the people of Pakistan and those affected by the climate crisis,” Pakistani negotiator Munir Akram said in the first days of the conference. . “This is a climate justice issue.”

The resistance of the rich countries began to soften as the leaders of the developing countries made it clear that they would not leave without damage and loss funds. As talks stretched into overtime on Saturday, diplomats from the small island nation met with European Union negotiators to broker a deal that the nations ultimately agreed to.

Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, climate envoy for the Marshall Islands, said the success of the effort gave her optimism that countries can do more to prevent future warming — something that is necessary to ensure her tiny Pacific nation doesn’t disappear into rising seas.

“We’ve shown we can do the impossible with the loss and damage fund,” he said, “so we know we can come back next year and get rid of fossil fuels once and for all.”

“COP27 sent a warning shot to polluters that they can no longer get away with destroying the climate,” said Harjeet Singh, head of global policy strategy at the International Climate Action Network. .

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