COP27 kicks off to reinvigorate the fight for the climate
The UN world climate conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, which opened on Sunday, is intended to try to breathe new life into the fight against global warming and its consequences, for which the countries of the south are demanding financial compensation. “Egypt will spare no effort,” said Foreign Minister Sameh Choukri, Chair of the COP27. “We must be clear, difficult as the current moment is, inaction is short-sighted and can only delay the climate catastrophe,” said outgoing President of the previous Glasgow COP, Alok Sharma.
For two weeks, this 27th UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) will bring nearly 200 countries together at the bedside of a disaster-stricken planet: historic floods in Pakistan, repeated heatwaves in Europe, hurricanes, fires, droughts… Fighting the climate is a “question life and death, for our security today and for our survival tomorrow,” stressed UN chief Antonio Guterres recently.
The conference “must lay the foundations for faster and bolder climate action now and in this decade that will make or break the fight for climate,” he warned. In fact, greenhouse gas emissions must fall by 45% by 2030 to have any chance of limiting warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, the Paris Agreement’s most ambitious goal.
But the current commitments of signatory countries, if finally met, would result in a 5-10% increase, putting the world on a course of at best 2.4°C by the end of the century. Far from respecting the main target of the Paris Agreement of less than 2°C compared to when people started burning fossil fuels (coal, oil or gas) which were largely responsible for global warming .
The current policy threatens a catastrophic +2.8 °C. “Pathetically not up to the task,” said Antonio Guterres, who regrets that the climate has been sidelined by the Covid epidemic, the war in Ukraine, the economic, energy and food crises. “There have been dangerous times,” such as the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris Agreement under President Donald Trump, says Alden Meyer of the E3G think tank. But “I’ve never seen anything like it,” he adds, describing a “perfect storm.”
In this context, despite the commitments made at COP26, only about twenty countries have increased their targets and the UN sees “no credible way” to reach the 1.5 degree target. More than 120 heads of state and government are expected to attend a summit on Monday and Tuesday to give impetus to these two-week negotiations.
Not including Chinese President Xi Jinping or American Joe Biden, who will quickly advance to the COP on November 11th. Though cooperation between the two main global emitters of greenhouse gases with strained ties is crucial, they could meet in Bali on the sidelines of the G20 the following week.
A G20 responsible for 80% of global emissions, but whose richest members are accused of neglecting their responsibilities in terms of ambition and aid to developing countries. The resentment of the poorest countries, which are not responsible for global warming but are at the forefront of its effects, will also be at the center of COP27.
Northern countries’ pledges to increase their aid to Southern countries to $100 billion per year by 2020 to reduce emissions and prepare for impacts have still not been met. And the South is now demanding additional funding for the “losses and damage” already suffered.
But the developed countries are very reluctant and just last year agreed to the creation of a “dialogue” on this issue, scheduled to last until 2024. However, they should concede that the issue is officially on the agenda in Sharm el-Sheikh and the matter could be put on the agenda. “The success or failure of COP27 will be measured by an agreement on this loss and damage financing facility,” warned Munir Akram, Pakistan’s ambassador to the United Nations and chair of the G77+China, which represents more than 130 emerging and poor countries .
Agreement or no agreement on a special mechanism to finance “losses and damages” or a new target to take over from 100 billion from 2025, the financing needs will be counted in “billions billions”, says AFP Michai Robertson, chief negotiator for the Small Island States Alliance (Aosis) and judge that this will be impossible without the private sector.
With the publication of the report of the UN expert group responsible for developing standards to assess the carbon neutrality targets of companies, cities, regions or investors, the spotlight will also be on private sector commitments. Because “our world can no longer afford greenwashing, hypocrisy and laggards,” emphasized Antonio Guterres.
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