May 21, 2024

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COP27 does little to avert future catastrophes of climate change


SHARM EL SHEIKH, EGYPT — The final resolution of the United Nations climate conference on Sunday produced a breakthrough in addressing the risks already ravaging the planet, but made little progress on emissions-cutting measures that could avert worse disasters to come.

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

Even as diplomats and activists paid tribute to Create a fund To support vulnerable countries after disasters, many have expressed concern that nations’ reluctance to adopt more ambitious climate plans has left the planet on a dangerous warming path.

“Many parties are not ready to make more progress today in the fight against the climate crisis,” EU climate chief Frans Timmermans told weary negotiators Sunday morning. “What we have in front of us is not enough to take a step forward for people and the planet.”

The equivocal agreement, reached after a year of record-breaking climate disasters and weeks of fraught negotiations in Egypt, underscores the challenge of getting the entire world to agree to swift climate action when so many powerful nations and organizations remain invested in the existing energy system.

UN negotiators reach an agreement to help countries vulnerable to climate disasters

It’s inevitable that the world will cross what scientists consider a safe warming threshold, said Rob Jackson, a Stanford University climate scientist and head of the Global Carbon Project. The only questions are to what extent and how many people will suffer as a result?

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“It’s not just COP27, it’s the lack of action in all the other COPs since the Paris Agreement,” Jackson said. “We’ve been bleeding for years.”

He blamed entrenched interests, as well as political leaders and general human apathy, for delaying work toward the more ambitious goal set in Paris in 2015: Limit the temperature rise to 1.5°C (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 attendees at this year’s conference. Several world leaders, including the hosts of this year’s Egyptian Conference of the Parties, have held events with industry representatives and talked about natural gas as a “transition fuel” that could facilitate the transition to renewable energy. Although burning the gas produces fewer emissions than burning coal, the production and transportation process can release methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

In closed consultations, diplomats from Saudi Arabia and other oil and gas producing countries rejected proposals that would allow countries to set new, more frequent emissions-reduction targets and call for a phase-out of all polluting fossil fuels, according to several people familiar with the negotiations.

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

Humanity’s current climate efforts are largely insufficient to avert catastrophic climate change. study It was published midway through the COP27 negotiations It found that few countries had followed a demand from last year’s conference to bolster their emissions-cutting pledges, and the world was on the brink of a warming of more than 1.5°C – passing the threshold that scientists say would lead to ecosystem collapseAnd the Severe weather escalates Spread of hunger and disease.

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

Sunday’s deal also failed to reflect the scientific reality. described by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change This year, the world must rapidly reduce its dependence on coal, oil and gas. Although an unprecedented number of countries – including India, the United States and the European Union – called for language on the need to phase out all polluting fossil fuels, the sweeping resolution only emphasized agreement last year in Glasgow on the need to “relentlessly phase out coal power”.

“It’s a consensus process,” said Xu, whose country has also supported the language of phasing out fossil fuels. “If there were a group of similar countries, we wouldn’t advocate for that, it’s very difficult to accomplish.”

However, the landmark agreement on a Fund for Irreversible Climate Damage – known in UN parlance as ‘loss and damage’ – also demonstrated how the COP process can empower the world’s smallest and most vulnerable countries.

Many observers believe that the United States and other industrialized nations will not make such a financial commitment for fear of liability for trillions of dollars in damages caused by climate change.

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

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

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Resistance from rich countries began to wane as leaders of developing countries made it clear that they would not leave without the Loss and Damage Fund. As talks stretched into overtime on Saturday, diplomats from the small island nations met with EU negotiators to broker the deal, which the countries eventually agreed to.

The success of the effort has given her optimism that countries can do more to prevent future warming — crucial to keeping her tiny Pacific nation from vanishing in rising seas, said Cathy Gitnell-Kijner, climate envoy for the Marshall Islands.

She said, “We’ve shown through the Loss and Damage Fund that we can do the impossible, so we know we can come back next year and get rid of fossil fuels once and for all.”

Harjit Singh, Head of Global Political Strategy for the International Climate Action Network, saw another benefit in demanding payment for climate damage: “COP27 sent a warning shot to polluters that they can no longer get rid of climate devastation,” he says. .

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