Nine reasons why Sharm el Sheikh will not go down in history

Nine reasons why Sharm el Sheikh will not go down in history

The resolutions adopted at the UN climate summit held in Sharm el Sheikh emphasize addressing the ravages caused by the climate crisis in vulnerable nations; but they contribute little to actions to address the causes of global warming and the need to combat them at their roots. There are at least nine reasons why the Sharm el Sheikh (Egypt) conference will not go down in history. These are:

1. Does the goal of 1.5ºC survive?

The agreement is very weak on this point, despite the multiple evidences of warming that have been given this year. Reference is made to the need to continue efforts to stop warming at 1.5ºC; but that is not accompanied by a greater demand to strengthen climate action plans in order to close the excess emissions gap. In the last few hours, the agreement was weakened by relegating the maximum warming goal of 1.5ºC to the science section of the resolution, as if in a gesture of lessening its political force. This did not happen in Glasgow (2021).

2. Fossil energy

The countries have not gone to tackle the origin of the causes of the impacts of the use of fossil energy and have not agreed to a gradual reduction of all fossil fuels, as they could have done following the example of the COP in Glasgow, where they did a call to progressively reduce the use of coal.

3. Coal

Calls for phasing out coal power, as well as “phasing out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies” (unless offset by CO2 capture and storage technologies), depending on national circumstances and taking into account criteria for a just transition.

4. “Low emission energies”

The new language used speaks of “low emission” energy –along with renewable sources–, a new expression that has been coined and is undefined. It could be used to justify the development of new fossil fuels.


Sheikh Abdullah Ahmad Ahoumod Alsabah, director general of the Kuwait Public Environmental Authority, at the COP27 climate conference in the resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh


5. Voluntary actions

Halting warming to 1.5°C requires “rapid, deep and sustained” greenhouse gas reductions of 43% by 2030 relative to 2019. Parties that have not communicated their new or revised climate action plans are urged to do so as soon as possible and before November 2023 (they must be submitted every five years). They are not required to resubmit strengthened plans in 2023, given the emissions gap, as was requested in 2021. Countries may consider additional actions by 2030, such as reducing methane emissions. Sounds like a voluntary invitation.

6. Financing/adaptation

“Serious concern” is expressed that the goal of mobilizing 100,000 million dollars a year by 2020 has not yet been met (there were 83,000 million) and developed countries are urged to reach the goal. But it is necessary to put a calendar, a schedule, to correct all these deficiencies. The summit presidency promised that it would focus on implementing the action; but the money has not reached COP27. The repeated breach of promises undermines the credibility of the process of the Framework Convention on Climate Change. It is not saying that aid in the area of ​​adaptation to climate change should be doubled.


he COP27 President and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry walk with their delegation at the conference on November 19, 2022.


7. Lobbying

The poor results of the summit have been related to the massive presence of representatives of fossil fuel lobbies (more than 600). Their assistance was intended to counter the unstoppable drive for renewable sources, which represents a clear threat to their businesses.

8. Biodiversity

The resolution underlines the urgent need to comprehensively address the interrelated global crises of climate change and biodiversity loss as well as the vital importance of protecting, conserving, restoring and using nature and natural ecosystems. But it is considered that its content does not sufficiently support the upcoming UN Biodiversity conference in Montreal (Canada) in December, as requested.

9. Questioned category

India and China have become some of the largest economies in the world since the definition of “developed” and “developing” countries was established in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (1992). The European Union and the US want current circumstances to be reflected in order to order the future distribution of financing. China and the Arab oil states (Saudi Arabia, the Emirates…) seek to maintain their status, that their historical contribution to warming be taken into account.

FILE - Victims of the unprecedented flooding from monsoon rains use makeshift barge to carry hay for cattle, in Jaffarabad, a district of Pakistan's southwestern Baluchistan province, Sept.  5, 2022. (AP Photo/Fareed Khan, File)

Floods force the use of makeshift barges to transport hay for livestock, in Jaffarabad, Balochistan, Pakistan, on September 5, 2022.

Fareed Khan/AP

The only relevant agreement

The creation of a fund for urgent reparation for the losses and damages caused by the worst effects of extreme weather in the most vulnerable nations is the most relevant agreement, but it is surrounded by unknowns.

The agreement to promote this fund is a historic victory for many developing nations and least developed countries (many of them island states suffering devastating damage), affected by the impacts of the climate crisis and who have been supporting this demand for years .

The new fund will make its “donors contribute to saving lives and livelihoods in the face of disasters related to climate change,” the United Nations secretariat greeted effusively when assessing this new aid body.

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However, many background details remain to be worked out. Therefore, a new committee will be created that will be in charge of outlining the proposal and making recommendations for consideration at the next climate conference (November-December 2023). In the end, the formula for a “mosaic solution” that the EU was asking for, among other countries, which advocated resorting to new financial instruments to help pay for the damage, made its way.

For this reason, it is agreed to “mobilize new and additional resources” in such a way that “sources, funds, processes and initiatives” would be incorporated inside and outside the Climate Change Convention, says the agreement. This committee must propose institutional changes (modalities, structure…), identify these new sources of financing, guarantee coordination and complementarity with existing financing.

The intention of the EU is that nations that should no longer be considered as “developing countries” (such as China, Arabia, Kuwait or the United Arab Emirates) also contribute. We will have to see if he succeeds. Agreement on this point was facilitated when the US, an opponent for years of this fund, decided not to block it, gave in and opened the door to its creation by accepting its discussion on the agenda at the beginning of the summit.

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