COP27 agreement does little to prevent future climate change disasters

COP27 agreement does little to prevent future climate change disasters
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SHARM AL-SHEIKH, Egypt – The UN Climate Conference’s final resolution on Sunday made progress in addressing the dangers already plaguing the planet, but made little progress on emissions-cutting measures that could avert even worse disasters.

It was the double-edged outcome of negotiations that at times seemed on the verge of failure, as many rich countries argued for deeper, faster climate action, and poorer countries said they needed help dealing with the consequences of warming, mostly fueled by the industrialized world. .

Even when applauded by diplomats and activists fundraising To support vulnerable countries after disasters, many worried that nations’ reluctance to adopt more ambitious climate plans was putting the planet on a dangerous warming path.

“Too many parties today are not ready to make further progress in the fight against the climate crisis,” European Union climate chief Frans Timmermans told weary negotiators on Sunday morning. “It’s not a good enough step forward for people and the planet.”

The vague agreement reached after a year of record-breaking climate disasters in Egypt and weeks of negotiations underscores the challenge of reaching agreement on rapid climate action around the world as many powerful countries and organizations continue to invest in the existing energy system.

UN negotiators reach agreement to help vulnerable countries with 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 cross what scientists consider the safe warming threshold. The only question is how much and how many people will suffer as a result.

“The problem isn’t just COP27, it’s the lack of action at every other COP since the Paris agreement,” Jackson said. “We’ve been crying blood for years”

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

An analysis by the advocacy group Global Witness showed a record number of fossil fuel lobbyists among those attending this year’s conference. Numerous world leaders, including presenters of this year’s Egyptian COP, held events with industry representatives and talked about natural gas as a “transition fuel” that could facilitate the transition to renewable energy. Although burning gas produces fewer emissions than burning coal, the production and transportation process can lead to leaks of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.

In closed-door consultations, diplomats from Saudi Arabia and other oil and gas producing countries rejected proposals that would allow nations to set new and more frequent emission reduction targets and call for phasing out of all polluting fossil fuels. to more than one person who has knowledge of negotiations.

“We went to the mitigation workshop and it was five hours of trench warfare,” said New Zealand Climate Minister James Shaw, referring to discussions about a program designed to help countries meet their climate commitments and reduce emissions in economic sectors. “Holding the line was hard work.”

Humanity’s current climate efforts are wildly inadequate to prevent catastrophic climate change. a study Released in the middle of the COP27 negotiations found that few countries met a requirement at last year’s conference to increase their emissions reduction commitments, and that the world is on the verge of warming far beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius – crossing a threshold that scientists say will lead to collapse of ecosystems, increased extreme weather and widespread hunger and disease.

Studies show the world has nine years to prevent catastrophic warming

Sunday’s agreement also does not reflect the scientific truth, announced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This year, he said, the world must rapidly reduce its dependence on coal, oil and gas. While an unprecedented number of countries, including India, the United States, and the European Union, have called for language on the need to phase out all polluting fossil fuels, the overarching decision has only been repeated. Last year’s deal in Glasgow On the need for “phasing out uninterrupted coal power”.

“It’s a consensus process,” said Shaw, whose country also supports the language of fossil fuel deprecation. If there is a group of countries that think like this, we will not tolerate it, it is very difficult to achieve this,” he said.

Yet 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 empower 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 for fear of taking responsibility for the trillions of dollars in damage caused by climate change.

But then devastating floods Having flooded half of Pakistan this year, the country’s diplomats led a negotiating bloc of more than 130 developing countries to demand that “financing arrangements for loss and damage” be added to the meeting agenda.

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

Resistance from the rich countries began to soften as emerging-country leaders made it clear that they would not leave without a loss-and-loss fund. As talks stretched into overtime on Saturday, diplomats from the small island states met with European Union negotiators to mediate the deal the nations ultimately agreed on.

Marshall Islands climate ambassador Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner said the success of this effort gives optimism that countries can do more to prevent future warming – something necessary to prevent the tiny Pacific nation from being lost in rising seas.

“We’ve shown we can do the impossible with loss and damage funding,” he said, “so we know we can come back next year and get off fossil fuels for sure.”

Harjeet Singh, head of global political strategy for the International Network for Climate Action, saw another benefit in mandating payments for climate damage: “COP27 has fired a warning shot at the polluters that they can no longer act freely with climate damage.” .

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