Sharm el-Sheikh – World leaders gathered on Monday to battle the climate change crisis, amid a sea of other pressing challenges that threaten to derail already insufficient efforts to wean the global economy off fossil fuels.
Casting an ominous shadow over these negotiations is Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, financed by the sale of Russian gas itself. The conflict has thrown global energy markets into disarray, fueled inflation and prompted some to call for more oil and gas drilling. Meanwhile, climate-affected poor countries are frustrated by rich countries whose emissions are driving global warming. And relations between the two biggest polluters, the US and China, have hit a new low.
“We are on the climate highway to hell with our foot on the accelerator,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told a gathering of more than 100 princes, presidents and prime ministers at the 27th summit on Monday. ” Also known as the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Climate Convention. COP27.
Scattered across the sprawling conference center were several pavilions dedicated to the promotion of oil and gas. Saudi Arabia paid for an unusually large space to define itself as an energy hub. OPEC had a place they called their International Development Fund. Mauritania boasts of its natural gas reserves.
As European countries struggle to access Russian natural gas, rising gas prices are fueling appetite for new gas production from the North Sea to the Gulf of Mexico to the West African coast. Prince Bin Zayed of the United Arab Emirates made it clear that his country will continue to produce gas as long as there is a market for it. He described his country as a “responsible” gas producer.
British Prime Minister Rishi Singh, who reversed his earlier decision not to attend the summit, told delegates that the Russian attack on Ukraine should force developed countries to invest more in renewable energy.
“Putin’s ugly war in Ukraine, and rising energy prices around the world, are not slowing down climate change,” Mr Sink said. “They are a reason to act fast.”
Mr. Guterres emphasized that climate change is not a separate issue that can be postponed, but is linked to the crises of war, unrest and hunger. He said that this is the main challenge of our century. “It is unacceptable, provocative and self-defeating to put it on the back burner. Indeed, many of today’s conflicts are linked to the growing climate chaos.
Mr. Guterres urged the United States and China to resume discussions on ways to cooperate on climate action, saying nations “have a special responsibility to join the effort.”
There is no immediate sign of melting. Chinese President Xi Jinping is not attending the meeting. Mr Xi’s focus on revitalizing his country’s ailing economy – and his increasingly close relationship with Russia’s Vladimir Putin – have raised doubts about his commitment to greening the Chinese economy. , while Tuesday’s midterm elections in the United States have raised new uncertainties. The future direction of US climate policy.
John Kerry, President Biden’s climate envoy, is trying to restart talks at the conference with his Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua, but so far, the two have not met. President Biden is scheduled to attend the meeting on Friday after other world leaders have left.
Seven of the 110 national leaders at Monday’s global event were women. One of them, the prime minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley, has made a passionate call for reform of the international banking system, saying it has trapped former colonial nations in deep debt as they struggle to cope with climate risks. try to
Leah Namogrowa, an 18-year-old environmental activist from Uganda, urged the dignitaries, most of whom were middle-aged or older, to move quickly. “Politicians, when you stand up to speak, my generation asks that you speak as if we are in an emergency,” he said.
The biggest fault in these negotiations is on the disputed issue of the fault line. which pays for weather damages. which wreak havoc on the countries that have done the least to cause global warming. Several blocs of developing countries are pushing for payment from rich, industrialized countries, wary of being held responsible for trillions of dollars. There was a small breakthrough on Sunday. For the first time, funding for damage and loss is on the official agenda.
But as part of a compromise, negotiators said talks would focus on “cooperation and facilitation” and not “responsibility or reparations”.
Now comes the hard part: detailing what kind of funding arrangements and how much. This will be the topic of discussion for the rest of the conference, which ends on November 18.
The conference opened Sunday in this resort town of sand and sea with a serious, though not unexpected, scientific assessment. The World Meteorological Organization reported that the years since the creation of the Paris Agreement in 2015 have been the warmest on record due to increased emissions of planet-warming gases.
The Paris Agreement’s goal of reducing global temperature increases has worked, but not at the necessary pace and scale. Before the agreement, average global temperatures were set to rise by 4 degrees Celsius by 2100 compared to the start of the industrial age. It is now set to rise from 2.1 to 2.9 degrees Celsius. That’s much higher than 1.5 degrees Celsius, which is beyond the threshold that scientists say significantly increases the likelihood of climate catastrophe.
The average global temperature has increased by about 1.1 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels. Already, it has worsened extreme weather around the world. This year alone, unusual heat scorched the Northern Hemisphere and caused severe drought in China while devastating floods destroyed property and lives in Nigeria and Pakistan.
“If political leaders mean what they say, they must act in a new way,” Johan Rockström, head of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Research, said Monday evening. Policymakers should immediately reduce fossil fuel use in their countries.”
Demonstrations are usually a key focus of these annual UN climate talks, an opportunity for activists and non-governmental groups to raise their voices with decision-makers. But not this year. The meeting is being held in a convention center heavily patrolled by the Egyptian military, with unusually tight security restrictions that essentially shut down dissent.
The Egyptian government said it would allow some protests and set up a special zone for activists, but it is far from the actual conference and difficult to reach. Monday afternoon, there it was No one there except a few Russian tourists. And some reporters.
The country’s most prominent political prisoner, Alaa Abdul FattahJailed for most of the past nine years for criticizing the country’s authoritarian government, he intensified his hunger strike as the conference began on Sunday, refusing water.
“Unfortunately, the only way I can sum up the COP27 summit so far is to use two words: poor start,” said Mohamed Adu, director of PowerShift Africa, which aims to spur climate action across the continent. To activate. News conference “We cannot betray COP27.”