How long will it be before the majority of people and politicians are seriously aware that we as humans urgently need to take steps to start changing our lifestyles and do something about it to stop global warming?
Shall it take so much time that we first shall have to see even more natural disasters in the rich countries taking place before they shall take steps to change? It can well be and looks like the world is only willing to take meaningful action on the climate crisis once people in rich countries start dying in greater numbers from its effects. The previous years already several scientists warned the world we should take action. Many climate activists, around the world, many regularly took to the streets to raise their loud voices that it is five to twelve. Even though there was allowed to be a lot of shouting and screaming in recent years, to draw attention to our natural environment, it seems like many do not really care, or say it will not be such a big deal.
Strangely enough, some world leaders may still want to give the impression that they are concerned about Mother Earth. Almost every year for the last 30 years, the world has met for two weeks to discuss the climate crisis. Last year from 31 October to 13 November 2021, delayed for a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the third meeting of the parties to the 2015 Paris Agreement (designated CMA1, CMA2, CMA3), and the 16th meeting of the parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP16) took place at the SEC Centre in Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom. It was the first conference since the Paris Agreement of COP21 that expected parties to make enhanced commitments towards mitigating climate change; the Paris Agreement required parties to carry out a process colloquially known as the ‘ratchet mechanism‘ every five years to provide improved national pledges (NDC). In response to climate change and as a contribution to achieving the global targets set out in the Paris Agreement, the representatives of the 197 attending parties promised more climate finance for developing countries to adapt to climate impacts. Last year we were not totally satisfied but despite some last-minute kerfuffle, we could get the impression that the world showed at last, a unified front for once, accepting scientific advice, making strong progress on plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions, and vowing to return this year with strengthened commitments.
But as it happens more often with agreements, it turns out afterwards, it is not always easy to implement them. Even though there were plans to reach new agreements this year to help those countries most affected by pollution from the industrial and most polluting countries.
This year was the year one hoped to find a solution to really make work of it for limiting global temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels, and to focus on ways to help developing nations phase out fossil fuels and transition to renewable energy.
From 6 November until 18 November the annual conference – Cop27 – took place in the Egyptian resort of Sharm El-Sheikh.
Since last year, almost everything that could go wrong has gone wrong. Vladimir Putin’s illegal and brutal invasion of Ukraine, as well as bringing bloodshed and tragedy to the Ukrainian people, has upended geopolitics, sparked a global energy crisis and food crisis and added to the economic woes of countries already battered by Covid-19.
A big problem of many countries in Europe is that they have made themselves far too independent of other countries, especially in terms of energy supply. Because of the limitations for gas delivery, they received from Russia, some EU countries have returned – temporarily, they claim – to coal. To make matters worse, the world’s two biggest emitters, the US and China – which surprised everyone by signing a bilateral pact at Cop26 in Glasgow to cooperate on green efforts – have been plunged into a diplomatic deep freeze after Nancy Pelosi’s summer visit to disputed Taiwan. John Kerry, the US presidential climate envoy, urged China to return to the table.
While there is a lot of bickering and searching for energy replenishment, poorer countries are also experiencing difficulties due to shortages in cereal supplies. Other countries are directly affected by the pollution caused by richer countries. The drumbeat of climate breakdown grows ever louder: devastating floods in Pakistan; drought in Africa; record heatwaves across Europe, India, China and even, in March, unprecedented high temperatures at both poles.
Before the summit, the Egypt’s foreign minister was aware that this time it would be harder to gain agreement this year more than it was in Paris in 2015, or in Glasgow last year.
“Because of the current circumstances, geopolitical tensions and economic directions and pressures, it is quite different and more difficult,”
It would have been nice if the assembled countries could put aside their geopolitical disputes to finally write out clear feasible plans.
Good news did reach us from Brazil regarding the Amazon forest. The defeat of Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil should mark the end of his destructive policies in the Amazon. the new president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva who won a narrow victory over Bolsonaro, who became the first Brazilian incumbent president in more than three decades to fail to be reelected. Thus, the one who had no regard at all for Brazil’s beautiful nature was eliminated and Lula promised to make sure the rainforest was restored to its glory.
But when it comes to keeping the 1.5C goal alive, this Cop is unlikely to mark much change on last year. At Glasgow, countries’ commitments on emissions cuts for the crucial next decade – known as nationally determined contributions (NDCs) – though improved, were still inadequate to the 1.5C goal.
At the opening of the conference this year, the assumption was that a solution would be sought to help poor countries with support measures so that they could contain the damage and accommodate the victims.
Poor countries need help from the rich, to access green technology and to help them adapt to the impacts of extreme weather. They also need help with the loss and damage caused by climate breakdown – the impacts of weather so extreme that they cannot be adapted to or prepared for – and will be looking for substantial commitments on that.
At Cops, the voice of civil society is usually key to making any significant progress. It was know that was going to be harder this year, as Egypt is an autocracy that controls media, blocks dissent, and has been accused of human rights abuses. As of 2022, Human Rights Watch has declared that Egypt’s human rights crises under the government of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, is
“one of its worst … in many decades”,
“tens of thousands of government critics, including journalists, peaceful activists, and human rights defenders, remain imprisoned on abusive ‘terrorism’ charges, many in lengthy pretrial detention.”
The Egyptian president could not help but watch as more than 9 000 climate activists gathered in Cairo to voice their demands. Those protestors do not want to see the world wait until 2030 before action to take, because even if delivered in full, that would mean a rise in global heating of about 2.5C, a level that would condemn the world to catastrophic climate breakdown.
Only a handful of countries have ramped up their plans in the last year, despite having promised to do so at the Cop26 UN climate summit in Glasgow last November.
Being put off by the high costs as well as the high security, several countries but also certain climate activists like Greta Thunberg, for one, were not attending.
“It’s a really bleak moment, not only because of the reports showing that emissions are still rising, so we’re not delivering on either the Paris or Glasgow climate agreements, but we also have so much scientific evidence that we are very, very close to irreversible changes – we’re coming closer to tipping points.”
Lee White, the British-Gabonese conservationist currently serving as the Minister of Water, Forests, the Sea and Environment of Gabon since 2019, said governments were not yet behaving as if global heating was a crisis, and he feared for the future he was leaving to his children. He said the $100bn of promised climate finance from rich nations was not reaching poor countries, which was driving distrust in the UN climate process.
On Saturday the 19th of November the European Union threatened to walk-out, but this was avoided. theylooked forward to a deal that would include the historic provision to set up a fund to help poorer countries face the harm caused by climate change. After dawn on Sunday morning, bleary-eyed ministers adopted a final agreement, finally ending more than two weeks in the Sinai desert. The result was understandably celebrated by nations on the front-line of a warming world.
“A mission thirty years in the making has been accomplished,”
said Antigua and Barbuda Minister and chair of the AOSIS group of small island nations Molwyn Joseph.
“Our ministers and negotiators have endured sleepless nights and endless days in an intense series of negotiations — but after the pain comes the progress.”
However, this year also disappoints hard again for whatever was put on hold. Beyond loss and damage – the COP-world term for paying up for climate catastrophes – the final deal was a clear disappointment for those wanting to ratchet up the ambitions of last year’s Glasgow agreement. The statement didn’t include a commitment to broaden the pledge to phase down unabated coal emissions to cover all fossil fuels, and there was no reference to global greenhouse gas emissions peaking by 2025.
The endgame was clearly tough for the European Commission climate chief Frans Timmermans, who’d taken centre stage at the summit, proposing a grand bargain on loss and damage in exchange for more emissions ambition and then threatened to walk if he didn’t get it.
In the end, the EU and its allies had to settle for some technical changes to the so-called work program on mitigation. But a tougher stance by the EU could have threatened the approval of the loss and damage fund, Timmermans admitted.
“What we have in front of us is not enough of a step forward,”
Timmermans said in the meeting’s closing session in the early hours on Sunday, looking exhausted as many delegates slept on their chairs.
“It does not bring a higher degree of confidence that we will achieve the agreements made under the Paris Agreement and in Glasgow last year.”
Now it will come not only to actually start contributing to that fund but also to take further steps to do everything possible in their own region to contribute as much as possible to nature conservation and to combat global warming.
Europe and other industrialised countries will have cards to play. If the loss and damage fund is going to get significant cash then they’re ones who are going to pay up. They’ll want something for their money.
Emissions growth, meanwhile, may be slowing, but they’re a long way from starting the kind of decline that could significantly slow the pace of climate change and keep global warming close to the 1.5C that global leaders committed to in Paris in 2015.
No matter what diplomats, political leaders, businesses and activists say today, science shows the world is still headed to a heating of close to 3C by the end of this century.
“Global emissions need to start a downward trajectory by 2025, that’s only two years away,”
“The cost of inaction is far, far greater than the cost of inaction.”
Find also to read, in the following articles, how the debates went on whilst the world continued to face the effects of global warming.
And have a look at previous published articles:
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