COP27: Summit agrees to help climate victims. But it does nothing to stop fossil fuels


Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt

Marathon UN climate talks have failed to reach an agreement to phase out global fossil fuels after being “stonewalled” by several oil-producers. the nations

At the COP27 UN climate conference in Egypt, negotiators from nearly 200 countries took the historic step of agreeing to set up a “harm and damage” fund to help vulnerable countries cope with climate disasters and agreed that the world will need approx. There is a need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Half by 2030.

The agreement also reaffirmed the goal of keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

However, in an effort to address the largest source of planet-warming emissions that are causing the climate crisis, several countries, including China and Saudi Arabia, have made a major proposal to phase out not only coal but all fossil fuels. Ended in a failure after stopping. .

“It is disappointing to see the phase-out of fossil energy and the phase-out of fossil energy by many large emitters and oil producers,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Berbock said in a statement.

Addressing the summit on Sunday morning, EU climate chief Frans Timmermans said the EU was “disappointed” with the final outcome of the summit.

“What we have in front of us is not enough to take a step forward for people and the planet … We should have done more,” Timmermans said.

The accord represents a breakthrough in helping the world’s most vulnerable countries deal with damage and loss, however, in what has been a contentious negotiation process.

It marks the first time that countries and blocs, including longtime holdouts like the United States and the European Union, have agreed to set up a fund for vulnerable countries to weather climate disasters made worse by pollution produced indiscriminately by rich, industrialized nations. have been

Negotiators and NGOs hailed the deal as a landmark achievement after developing countries and small island nations came together to step up pressure.

“The agreements reached at COP27 are a victory for our entire world,” Molvin Joseph, chair of the Alliance of Small Island States, said in a statement. “We have shown people who have felt neglected that we hear you, we see you, and we are giving you the respect and care you deserve.”

The creation of the fund also became one of the main demands of the activists attending the convention. Unlike previous years, when large protests and loud calls for action become part of the event, this year the demonstrations were muted.

Protests in Egypt are rare and mostly illegal, and the Egyptian government has placed strict limits on protesters attending the conference.

Still, the summit’s biggest protest saw hundreds of activists march through the venue last weekend, demanding climate payments. On Friday, 10-year-old Ghanaian activist Nakiyat Dramani received a standing ovation in the plenary after calling on delegates to “take heart and do the math”.

Climate activists held several protests during the conference calling for an end to fossil fuels and climate finance.

The fund will focus on what can be done to support sources of loss and damage, but does not include liability or compensation provisions, a senior Biden administration official told CNN.

Reaching an agreement was not easy. The summit was originally supposed to end on Friday, but negotiators were still trying to hammer out the details as the conference venue was torn down around them.

The US and other developed countries have long sought to avoid provisions that could open them up to legal liability and lawsuits from other countries. And in previous public comments, US climate ambassador John Kerry said loss and damage are not the same as climate compensation.

“‘Reparations’ is not a word or a term that is used in this context,” Kerry said on a recent call with reporters earlier this month. He added: “We have always said that it is imperative for developing countries to help developing countries deal with climate impacts.”

Details on how the fund will work remain vague. The text leaves many questions about when it will be finalized and operational, and how it will be funded. The text also mentions a transitional committee that will help hammer out those details, but does not set specific future timelines.

And while climate experts celebrated the victory, they also noted the uncertainty going forward.

“This loss and damage fund will be a lifeline for poor families whose homes have been destroyed, farmers whose farms have been destroyed, and islanders forced from their ancestral homes,” said Ani Dasgupta, CEO of the World Resources Institute. gone,” said Ani Dasgupta, CEO of the World Resources Institute. “At the same time, developing countries are leaving Egypt with no clear assurance of how the damage and loss fund will be monitored.”

A fallout on a fund came in large part this year because the G77 bloc of developing countries remained united, using more leverage on losses and losses than in previous years, climate experts said.

“They needed to come together to force the talks we’re having now,” World Resources Institute Africa resilience director Nisha Krishnan told reporters. “The coalition has held because of the belief that we needed to stay together to deliver this – and to move the conversation forward.”

For many, the fund represents a hard-fought years-long victory, pushed over the finish line by global attention paid to climate disasters like Pakistan’s devastating floods this summer.

“It was like a big build-up,” former US climate ambassador Todd Stern told CNN. “It’s been going on for a long time and it’s getting worse for weaker countries because there’s still not a lot of money being put into it. As we can see the real disaster effects of climate change are getting more and more intense.

Frans Timmermans speaking to reporters during the EU summit.

Global scientists have warned for decades that warming must be limited to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels – a threshold that is fast approaching as the planet’s average temperature has already climbed to around 1.1 degrees.

Above 1.5 degrees, the risk of extreme drought, wildfires, floods and food shortages will increase dramatically, scientists said in a recent report by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

But when summit delegates reaffirmed the goal of keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, climate experts expressed dismay at the lack of mention of fossil fuels, or the need to phase them out to prevent global temperature rises. . As it did at last year’s Glasgow summit, the text calls for a phase-down of unsustainable coal power, and a “phasing-out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies”, but a phase-out of all fossil fuels. does not go further to demand, including oil and gas.

“The impact of the fossil fuel industry was found across the board,” European Climate Foundation CEO Laurence Tubiana said in a statement. “The Egyptian presidency has produced a text that clearly protects the oil and gas petro-states and fossil fuel industries. This trend cannot continue in the UAE next year.”

It took some dramatic action to even keep the 1.5-degree number hit in Glasgow last year.

On Saturday, EU officials threatened to walk out of the meeting if the final agreement failed to support the goal of limiting temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. In a carefully choreographed news conference, Timmermans, joined by a full line-up of EU member state ministers and other top officials, said “no deal is better than a bad deal.”

“We don’t want 1.5 Celsius to die here and today. This is totally unacceptable to us,” he said.

The talks were further complicated by the fact that Kerry, who was leading the US delegation, tested positive for the coronavirus on Friday. He kept in touch with his team and his foreign counterparts by phone, but was physically absent during the crunch time at the summit.

US Climate Ambassador John Kerry gestures to his Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua at the COP27 summit.

In addition to the final agreement, the summit produced a number of other important developments, including the resumption of formal climate talks between the US and China – two of the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitters.

After China blocked climate talks between the two countries this summer, US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to restore US-China communications when they met at the G20 summit in Bali last week. , paving the way for Kerry and his Chinese counterpart Xi. Zhenhua formally to meet again.

Kerry told CNN last week, “Without China, even if the U.S. … is moving toward a 1.5-degree program, … if we don’t have China, nobody else can make that goal.

The two sides met during the second week of the COP, according to a source familiar with the discussions, where they were trying to pick up before China suspended the talks. They focused on specific action points, such as scaling up China’s plan to reduce methane emissions — a potent greenhouse gas — and their overall emissions target, the source said.

Unlike last year, there was no major, joint climate announcement from the two countries. But the resumption of formal communication was seen as an encouraging sign.

Li Shuo, a Beijing-based global policy adviser for Greenpeace East Asia, said the COP “saw extensive exchanges between the two sides, led by Kerry and Xi.”

“The challenge is that they must do more than talk, [and] also need to take the lead,” Shuo said, adding that the resumption of formal talks “helps prevent the worst outcome.”

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