The COP27 agreement will do little to avoid future climate change disasters

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SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt — The final outcome of the UN climate conference on Sunday marked a breakthrough in addressing the dangers already ravaging the planet, but little progress on measures to cut emissions that could prevent worse catastrophes to come.

It was a double-edged decision for the talks, as many rich countries argued for deeper, faster climate action, while poorer countries said they first needed help dealing with the effects of warming, largely driven by the industrialized world. .

Even as diplomats and activists applauded A financial creation Many worried that countries’ reluctance to adopt more ambitious climate plans to support vulnerable nations after disasters left Earth on a dangerous warming path.

“Many parties are not ready to make much progress today in the fight against the climate crisis,” EU climate chief Franz Timmermans told exhausted negotiators on Sunday morning. “What’s in front of us is not enough of a step forward for people and the planet.”

The tentative agreement, reached after a year of climate disasters in Egypt and weeks of fraught negotiations, underscores the challenge of getting the entire world to agree to swift climate action while many powerful countries and organizations invest in the current energy system.

UN negotiators have reached an agreement to help countries vulnerable to 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 exceed what scientists consider a safe warming threshold. The only questions are how much and how many people will be affected as a result.

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

He blamed entrenched interests, political leaders and general human apathy for delaying action towards the more ambitious target set in Paris in 2015. Limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.

An analysis by advocacy group Global Witness showed a record number of fossil fuel lobbyists among attendees at this year’s conference. Many world leaders, including this year’s Egyptian COP hosts, 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 leakage of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

In closed-door consultations, diplomats from Saudi Arabia and other oil and gas-producing nations pushed back against proposals to set new and frequent emissions reduction targets and allow for the phase-out of all polluting fossil fuels. For many who know 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 plan designed to help countries meet their climate pledges and curb emissions across economic sectors. “Keeping in line is hard work.”

Humanity’s current climate efforts are insufficient to avoid catastrophic climate change. A study Released in the middle of the COP27 negotiations Few countries at last year’s conference followed through on a demand to raise their emissions-cutting pledges, and the world is on the verge of warming beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius — a threshold scientists say will be crossed. Collapse of ecosystems, Extreme weather increases and widespread hunger and disease.

The study shows the world has nine years to stop catastrophic warming

Sunday’s agreement fails to reflect scientific reality, As described by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change This year, the world must rapidly reduce its dependence on coal, oil and gas. Even as 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 overarching conclusion was reiterated. Last year’s deal in Glasgow On the need for “unmitigated coal power grid-down”.

“It’s a consensus process,” said Shaw, whose country supported the fossil fuel phase-out language. “If there’s a group like us, we’re not going to stand for it, and that’s very difficult to do.”

Yet the historic agreement on funding for irreversible climate impacts – known in UN parlance as “loss and damage” – also shows 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 take such financial responsibility for the trillions of dollars of damage caused by climate change.

But then A catastrophic flood With half of Pakistan underwater this year, the country’s ambassadors led a negotiating bloc of more than 130 developing countries to demand that “financial provisions for loss and damage” be included on the meeting agenda.

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

Opposition from rich nations began to soften as developing country leaders made it clear they would not leave without loss and damage funding. As talks stretched into overtime on Saturday, diplomats from the small island states met with EU negotiators to broker the deal the countries eventually agreed to.

Kathy Jednill-Kijner, the climate ambassador for the Marshall Islands, said the success of the effort gave her hope that countries can do more to prevent future warming — which is essential if her tiny Pacific nation does not disappear into rising seas.

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

Harjeet Singh, head of global political strategy for Climate Action Network International, sees another benefit of paying for climate impacts: “COP27 has sent a warning shot to polluters that they can no longer get away with their climate destruction,” he said. .

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