The resolutions adopted at the UN summit that have concluded in Egypt have established a vision that emphasizes the havoc caused by the climate crisis in vulnerable nations; but they contribute little when it comes to emphasizing the causes of global warming and the need to address it from the root. The influence of the fossil fuel industry and the states that support it has been highlighted in the further weakening of the language used to refer to the fossil industry.
COP27 had to seek a balance between the desires of the developed world to achieve greater ambition to reduce emissions (while expanding the list of those who must pay for climate action) and the demands of the developing world, based on the recognition of the escalation of climate impacts.
For this reason, at this point there is no progress on what was provided in Glasgow, according to the assessment of the experts of the European Climate Foundation, led by Laurence Tubiana, “architect” of the Paris Agreement.
1. One of lime and one of sand
In the chapter on “loss and damage” caused by the climate crisis, more progress has been made than many thought possible, with the commitment to establish a financial support structure for the most vulnerable, which should be specified at the next COP in 2023. .
However, the new language used in the final resolution talks about “low emission” energy – along with renewable sources – an undefined term could be used to justify the development of new fossil fuels against the clear guidance given by the Panel UN Intergovernmental Climate Change Committee.
In the last hours of the conference the agreement was weakened by relegating the goal of maximum warming to 1.5ºC in the Science section, while in Glasgow it sat next to solutions to the climate crisis in the Mitigation section.
2. Progress for the vulnerable
It is not clear how the new loss and damage fund will be financed. Next year it will also have to be reassessed which countries pay and which also receive aid. It is clear that the discussion must be extended to the definition of what is meant by development, since it is incomprehensible that countries like China, Qatar or Arabia can evade that responsibility by entering this category. In addition, it is clear that financial systems must be reformed.
In the absence of an immediate source of funding, resource pledges to respond to loss and damage are largely focused on the Global Shield initiative (aimed at helping low-income and vulnerable countries recover from climate disasters), launched by the G7 and UN early warning systems, with some commitments to the Santiago Network and country-specific projects. At the summit, promises were made to contribute 340 million to this chapter.
The UN Secretary General, António Guterres, is very clear about this. Governments must take advantage of and tax the extraordinary profits of the oil companies, especially in these times of energy crisis.
3. Oil and gas
The agreement reached in Sharm el Sheikh does not bring anything new to address the causes of the impacts of the use of fossil energy and the destruction of nature. Countries failed to agree to a phase-out of all fossil fuels, as they were able to do by following the example of the Glasgow COP, where there was a call to phase out coal use. Perhaps this was not a surprise. The large oil, gas and agricultural industries were abundantly present at the summit, which greatly influenced these talks, as evidenced by the attendance of more than 600 lobbyists and the gas agreements reached on the sidelines.
4. Is the goal of a maximum warming of 1.5ºC alive?
The agreement is very weak on this point, despite evidence of the effects of warming this year, with floods in Pakistan, Nigeria and Australia and drought in the US, which will mean that support structures such as the loss and damage fund, they will have to work even harder.
Reference is made to the goal of stopping global warming at 1.5 ºC; but it is a soulless reference, which is not accompanied by a greater demand to reinforce the demanding plans to close the current emissions gap.
Maintaining that goal can mean a relief for many; but what matters is more real and fast emissions cuts. Leaders are needed to break with the fossil fuel industry, say observers at the summit.
5. Who gives? Who benefits?
India and China have become one of the largest economies in the world since the definition of “developed” and “developing” countries was established in the UNU Framework Convention on Climate Change (1992). The EU and the US want the current circumstances to be reflected.
However, China and the Arab petrostates want to maintain their status, that their best historical contribution to warming be taken into account. That circle will have to be squared in the coming years.
6. Financing for adaptation to climate change
Countries have been urged to increase funding for adaptation, but not double it, as agreed at the Glasgow summit. It is a paradox. The negotiations were presented as the African COP, but not enough funding has been generated for vulnerable countries, leaving much to do in 2023.
The more than 600 representatives of fossil fuel lobbies and CEOs from BP, Shell, Total and Occidental were in the conference halls eager to show off their green credentials, but their attendance was meant to counter the unstoppable drive for renewables it represents. a clear threat to their business.
8. Boost to renewables
Despite that effort, the limited number of fossil energy deals made at the COP were outnumbered by clean energy deals.
Renewables are now cheaper than fossil fuels in two-thirds of the world, including emerging economies such as Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Peru, South Africa, Kenya, India, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines. Investment in the transition has increased 25% to over $708 billion this year despite the economic crisis, including a massive push into electric transportation.
9. Charcoal Transitions
A deal was reached on the sidelines of the summit to invest $20 billion for Indonesia’s transition from coal, and similar deals are on the horizon for Vietnam and Senegal in the offing. These agreements promoted by the Association for a Just Energy Transition build on the 8,500 agreement reached with South Africa at COP 26. These aligned strategies could be significant in accelerating the global energy transition.
10. New geopolitical wave
This COP made clear the enormous mountain that lies ahead for the planet to achieve the global transition. But positive elements can be seen regarding the understanding of what needs to be done in the future in terms of climate and energy. The best political context that the return of Brazil to the world stage and the rapprochement between the US and China that promise to collaborate in the climate field should be taken advantage of.