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COP27: Challenge of promising to reduce emissions, and doing it

COP27: Challenge of promising to reduce emissions, and doing it

One month before COP27, Egypt is multiplying calls to world leaders to make this climate summit an unavoidable diplomatic event, and trying to avoid criticism of its violation of human rights.

Until now, no head of state has officially confirmed his participation in the conference that will open on November 6 in Sharm el Sheikh, on the shores of the Red Sea. What is known at the moment is that King Charles III of England will not attend.

Global warming

The international community continues to reaffirm the objective of the 2015 Paris Agreement to contain global warming at +1.5ºC compared to the pre-industrial era, an objective that is difficult to achieve since we are almost at +1.2ºC.

A level at which the catastrophic consequences of warming are already multiplying throughout the world, with droughts, floods, heat waves and mega-fires that especially affect the poorest countries and those least responsible for greenhouse gas emissions, guilty of said heating.

These countries demand specific financing to compensate for the “losses and damages” suffered, a point that will be vigorously debated at COP27, since the richest, often big polluters, are very reluctant.

The debate will take place in a climate of mistrust since rich countries have not yet fulfilled their commitment to helping poor countries with 100,000 million dollars a year to reduce emissions and adapt.

That was the first of the topics demanded by the president and it is the one on which we will focus our analysis today. It is the issue that has historically been given the most importance in climate action. Although this does not mean that enough has been done.

Otherwise, today we would be in a different situation. It is the topic that, controversially and cunningly, the developed countries take advantage of the most to avoid addressing those that the developing countries demand and need. It is mitigation, also known as the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. And it is one of the issues on which the negotiation on African soil will focus.

climate goals of COP27

“Financing instruments are still mostly non-concessional loans rather than concessional loans and grants that account for only six per cent of climate finance. We must find a way to address this challenge,” he asserted.

The inclusion of loss and damage on the agenda of the next COP, which will be held from November 6 to 18, will indicate “a significant change in the debate and will allow COP27 to advance in four key areas of climate action: adaptation, mitigation, finance, loss and damage”.

What is the goal?

“Keep the global average temperature rise well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to limit that temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.” That is what the Paris Agreement says. This is how the countries agreed in 2015 with the historic agreement that does not include an emission reduction target per se, but rather a warming limit target. Of course, to limit warming, emissions must be reduced. In other words, drastic changes must be made in all sectors, especially those that contribute the most.

The subsequent IPCC report showed that a 2°C warming scenario would have more dramatic impacts than 1.5°C. Since then, fortunately, international politics seems to have reached a consensus that 1.5°C is the horizon to reach. In fact, the final document of the COP26 “recognizes that the impacts of climate change will be much smaller with a temperature increase of 1.5°C compared to 2°C, and resolves to continue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1 .5°C”.

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To limit warming below 1.5°C, global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions need to be reduced by 45% by 2030 with a view to achieving zero emissions by 2050, while reducing other GHGs. For this to be possible, we must start now, if not yesterday.

What is the reality?

They will imagine that not very well. In compliance with the Paris Agreement, the countries have been presenting their nationally determined contributions (NDC) with emission reduction commitments and of course the expected implementation thereof. The idea is that the sum of all these reductions places us on the path of 1.5.

According to the analysis of Climate Action Tracker -updated to November of last year- if all the countries comply with the commitments assumed, we would be in a scenario of between 1.8°C (as the most optimistic) and 2.4°C. That is, if they fulfil the commitments announced, said, promised. Not if we are as we are now or if we continue as we have been up to now, which would lead us to a scenario of up to 3.6°C. If they deliver what they promised, we’re not there yet. Today we are in a world with warming of 1.2°C.

What has to change?

It is definitely necessary to improve mitigation policies to place ourselves on the path of the scenario of less dramatic impacts.

Here we enter into a discussion about whether this involves giving new announcements or actually acting. This is where Enrique Maurtua Konstantinidis tells us “enough”. After following the negotiations since 2004 and working as a consultant on environmental policies, Enrique is forceful: “They are all trying to comply with the paper and not for the paper to reflect reality. It reaches the point that they forget why they had started to do that”.

Weak and late commitments

Mahmoud Mohieldin, the United Nations senior official for climate action, welcomed “the promise of a number of countries to fulfil their part of the 2009 Copenhagen pledge of $100 billion a year”, despite this amount “only represents 3% of the needs”.

But for the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, “the collective commitments of the G20 governments are too weak and come too late.”

In Egypt, environmental concerns were long seen as “a luxury” that the country of 104 million people could not afford, Environment Minister Yasmina Fuad recently admitted.

It has now set a target of 42% of its electricity coming from renewables by 2035, but for environmentalists, this is not enough.

Climate action tracker denounces “very insufficient” policies, while Human Rights Watch (HRW) affirms that Egypt is “responsible for more than a third of the consumption of methane in Africa”, one of the gases that cause the greenhouse effect.

For HRW, by allowing a form of protest, Egypt “could try to exploit COP27 to promote an image of tolerance when political oppression is at the root of one of the country’s most serious human rights crises.”

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