COP 27 Uncertainties Ruled Nothing to stop fossil fuels



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Marathon UN Climate talks took place in COP27 at Sharm el-Sheikh in the last two weeks while hundreds of climate activists demanded climate payments and the end to fossil fuels in staged protests, a rare and often forbidden act in Egypt.

After nearly three decades of seeking financial assistance, negotiators from nearly 200 countries finally agreed to create a fund to help vulnerable countries rescue and rebuild the physical and social infrastructure devastated by extreme weather. The fund will be set up to support loss and damage resources, but there is no agreement yet on how the finance should be provided and where it should come from, and details are vague on how the fund will operate and there are no timelines established. The agreement does not include liability or compensation provisions since developed nations are concerned that this could open them up to legal liability and lawsuits from affected countries,

“This loss and damage fund will be a lifeline for poor families whose houses are destroyed, farmers whose fields are ruined, and islanders forced from their ancestral homes,” said Ani Dasgupta, president of the environmental think-tank World Resources Institute. “At the same time, developing countries are leaving Egypt without clear assurances about how the loss and damage fund will be overseen.”

The April 2022 UN Climate Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was written by hundreds of leading scientists and agreed by 195 countries. It provided the scientific proof that to limit a rise in global warming to 1.5°C or even 2°C, as agreed by all countries that signed the Paris Agreement, greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) must peak before 2025 and be reduced by 43% (including methane by a third) by 2030. It warned that is also inevitable that we will reach and surpass 1.5°C this decade, the red line of climate breakdown and irreversible destruction in nature.  At COP27, a resolution to cause emissions to peak by 2025 was taken out, to the dismay, frustration and disappointment of many.

It was also agreed that the world needs to cut greenhouse gas emissions nearly in half by 2030 to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, but the text is a repeat of COP26 and only called for a “phasedown of unabated coal power and phase-out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies.” It does not go further to call for a phase-out of all fossil fuels, including oil and gas. Climate experts expressed further dismay that the world has failed to reach an agreement to phase out coal and fossil fuels after prolonged talks were “stonewalled” by numerous oil producing nations including China and Saudi Arabia, blocking attempts to address the biggest source of global warming emissions that are causing climate emergencies. 

“It is more than frustrating to see overdue steps on mitigation and the phase-out of fossil energies being stonewalled by a number of large emitters and oil producers,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said in a statement.

“What we have in front of us is not enough of a step forward for people and planet … we should have done much more,” European Union’s Climate Chief Frans Timmermans said and expressed the disappointment of the EU with the final outcome of the summit.

Emissions have continued to rise even after world leaders have pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions and developed greener energy sources in the last three decades.  In the new normal, extreme weather events and displacement of millions of people by weather-related events has become a growing health and security challenge.

At the G20 Summit that followed in Bali, US President Joe Biden and China President Xi Jinping agreed to reestablish US-China communications. opening the door for John Kerry and Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua to resume discussions. “Without China, even if the US is moving towards a 1.5-degree programme, if we don’t have China, nobody else can make that goal,” Kerry told CNN last week.

As we digest the agreements reached at COP27, it’s clear that the role of businesses continues to be vital in tackling the climate emergency.  The Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD), adopted yesterday by the European Parliament with 525 votes in favour, 60 votes against and 28 abstentions, will make businesses more publicly accountable by obliging them to regularly disclose information on their societal and environmental impact with a specific timeline. This aims to end greenwashing, strengthen the EU’s social market economy and lay the groundwork for sustainability reporting standards at global level.

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