The United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP27, in Sharm Al Sheikh, Egypt, ended this weekend. The agreement to establish a fund for loss and damage is being touted as a success, but the climate finance story does not hold out much hope.
At the same time, the two weeks of negotiations at the red seaside resort have produced nothing that gives hope for the success of global action to keep global warming below 1.5°C.
The global climate negotiation has been going on for three decades now. Annual greenhouse gas emissions were around 20 gigatons at the start of trading, which have since nearly doubled to around 40 gigatons.
In 2015, countries agreed in Paris to limit the global temperature to 1.5°C. Yet, as the World Meteorological Organization says, the past eight years are turning out to be the hottest eight years on record.
The recently released report by the United Nations Environment Program warns that the world has “no credible pathway” to 1.5°C in place today. The world’s failure to seriously reduce greenhouse gas emissions has already made the Paris Agreement’s goal of meeting its 1.5 degree Celsius target very likely to be missed.
At last year’s UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, countries pledged to accelerate the end of fossil fuel subsidies and phase out the use of coal.
Last year was also marked by the highest level of greenhouse gas emissions in its history, and the increased use of coal was the main factor contributing to this increase. This year, in Sharm Al-Sheikh, the discussion has shifted from just coal to oil and gas. However, the final text did not mention phasing out fossil fuels, including oil and gas.
Around 150 countries have pledged to reduce methane emissions by 30% by 2030. Committing to reducing greenhouse gas emissions is not the same as taking concrete action to fulfill that promise.
Several countries have recently backed away from their promise to update their climate targets to limit global warming to 1.5°C.
The pledges countries have made so far to reduce their emissions by 2030, as estimated by the United Nations Environment Program, will put the planet on a path to warming by at least 2, 7 degrees Celsius, which will become extremely dangerous for people and the ecosystem.
In these difficult times, it is regrettable that the countries present at COP27 have not committed to a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
While there is almost helplessness in the face of failure to limit global warming, COP27 was mainly occupied with discussing how to finance “loss and damage”.
The agreement reached in Sharm al-Sheikh to establish a fund for loss and damage is somewhat laudable, but it does not raise much hope. Who will pay how much remains unclear, and there are also no liability and indemnification provisions.
In 2009, developed countries pledged to mobilize $100 billion a year by 2020 in climate finance to help vulnerable developing countries cope with climate change. The goal has not yet been reached.
There is no doubt that progress in international climate negotiations has been too slow and has not been able to keep pace with science.
COP27’s failure to provide some hope on climate mitigation in this time of desperation was not unexpected, and the signs were there, at least since August 31, when G20 ministers disagreed on a joint statement at the end of their meeting. in Bali.
COP27 ended up being a long period of contentious negotiation over the text of the declaration, followed by a lofty declaration with no binding commitments.
The leaders of China, Russia and India did not attend COP27, although the resumption of formal climate talks between the United States and China in Sharm Al Sheikh was a good development .
The US president came to Sharm al-Sheikh for just an hour, and his attendance and 20-minute speech were largely lackluster. The highlight of the 2-week Climate Conference was the presence of Brazil’s President-elect, Luiz Inacio Lula.
Many delegates gathered to see him speak; he received a rock star reception. Much to the delight of the public, he promised to restore the Amazon rainforest and drive out climate criminals.
Lula’s election as president of Brazil has raised hopes that Brazil’s environmental protection agencies will be up and running, and he will unlock the Amazon Fund, which promotes conservation. Lula’s promises are promising, but the politics of a divided Brazil are too complex for the world to begin to rejoice.
Although the climate negotiations in Sharm al-Sheikh were not so encouraging, the world cannot afford to lose hope and give up its will to live.
In 2023, the United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP28, will be held in Dubai. The UAE, in recent years, has become an important player in diplomatic negotiations on various multilateral and bilateral issues.
It has also cleverly positioned itself between two competing global superpowers and has developed excellent working relationships with several regional powers in the South.
Although it has significant deposits of fossil fuels, it has adopted a pragmatic approach to its energy transition and is doing everything to reduce its emissions without compromising economic development.
Thus, COP28, to be held in Dubai next year, offers a ray of hope in these dark times.