COP27: Frustration grows over lack of progress on fossil fuels, 1.5C target and nature

Despite a breakthrough in Sharm el-Sheikh’s plan for loss and damage, politicians and business leaders warn that the 1.5C target will hang in the balance after this year’s summit

Anger is mounting over the failure to secure much-needed commitments to phase out undiluted fossil fuels and tackle emissions in the near term as part of the final COP27-brokered deal at the weekend, with critics warning that the chances of limiting global warming to 1.5C hanging on by the thinnest thread.

As the dust begins to settle after the intense marathon UN climate talks in Sharm el-Sheikhscrutinizing the implications of the final deal struck Sunday morning pointed to a lack of momentum for efforts to tackle still-rising global emissions.

While the agreement reached by nearly 200 countries to create a new loss and damage fund to support climate-vulnerable countries struggling with the worsening effects of global warming was widely hailed as a historic breakthrough, elsewhere the reaction to the Sharm El Implementation Plan -Sheikh one of acute disappointment.

Indeed, a number of key figures, including some directly involved in the negotiations, have criticized in the past 24 hours the lack of ambition in the COP27 final text on how to tackle near-term emissions, limit dependence on fossil fuels and expand natural carbon sinks.

Disappointment was immediately evident in the plenary hall as the summit drew to a close on Sunday morning, as various countries and negotiating blocs that have spent the past two weeks pushing for much greater ambitions in efforts to mitigate climate change gave their views on the final outcome. .

Alok Sharma, in his final act as UK president of COP26, hailed the “historic” progress on loss and damage at the summit in Egypt, but stressed that despite the eventual consensus agreement reached at COP27, “this is not a moment for unqualified celebration” .

Sharma said he and many of Britain’s allies – including the EU and small island states – had come to COP27 to “secure the results we secured in Glasgow and go even further”, but warned that after yesterday’s 1.5C agreement temperature limit target “remains on life support”.

“I assure you, indeed, I promise you, that if we don’t step up soon and rise above these one-minute-to-midnight battles to hold the line, we’re all going to fall short,” he told the summit during the closing plenary meetings. . “Each of us will have to explain this to our citizens, to the world’s most vulnerable countries and communities, and ultimately to the children and grandchildren to whom many of us now go home.”

During the final days of talks last week, there were reports that some countries were pushing to soften the wording of the Glasgow Climate Pact, which strongly insisted on 1.5C as the key temperature limit, sparking fears of a backsliding on the consensus reached. a year ago at COP26.

Previous iterations of the potential final agreement at COP27 also failed to spell out clear demands for countries to come forward next year with tougher national climate plans, although those calls were eventually reflected in the final agreement handed out yesterday.

Elsewhere, the Sharm el-Sheikh Implementation Plan – as the final COP27 agreement was called – did not call for a global peak in greenhouse gas emissions to be reached by 2025, as suggested by a number of countries that wanted to see the agreement in line with what climate scientists stated that this is necessary to achieve the 1.5C pathway.

It also did not include a call for a phase-out of all undiminished fossil fuels, despite such wording reportedly gaining support from some 80 countries last week. The loose grouping of oil nations, including Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which is hosting Egypt at COP27 next year, has been accused of blocking calls for more ambitious wording to tackle fossil fuels.

While the final text did contain a specific call for the expansion of renewables, a last-minute change saw the insertion of “low emissions and renewable energy”, which some say offers more wiggle room for the likes of CCS and nuclear , and potentially even gas.

Sharma’s comments did little to allay concerns over the impact of oil, as he spoke of “very difficult” talks during the talks and noted that parties seeking to build on the Glasgow climate pact “have had to fight tirelessly to hold the line” on what was agreed. last year.

Britain, as part of a “highly ambitious coalition” of more than 60 countries that includes the Marshall Islands, New Zealand and various European countries, has put forward a number of proposals on how to tackle emissions in the near term, but many of them have failed. it is in the final text.

“Together with many parties, we proposed a number of measures that would help [building on the Glasgow Climate Pact]”, – said Sharma. “Peak emissions until 2025, as science tells us, is necessary: ​​not in this text. Clear implementation of coal phase-down: Not in this text. A clear commitment to phase out all fossil fuels: not in this text.’

Immediately before Sharma, EU chief negotiator Frans Zimmermans, the EU Commission’s vice-president for the Green Deal, made an equally scathing speech about the failure to reach a more ambitious deal in Sharm el-Sheikh

“Many parties, too many parties, are not ready today to make more progress on the climate crisis,” he said at the closing plenary. “There have been too many attempts to even reverse what we agreed in Glasgow. Some fear the upcoming transition. The price of change. They question the “how” rather than the “why.”

He added: “But I urge you all to recognize when you leave this room that we all failed to act to avoid and minimize loss and damage. We should have done much more.”

Laurence Tubiano, director-general of the European Climate Fund and a key figure in brokering the Paris Agreement in 2015, has been even tougher on the terms of the final fossil fuel deal and urged countries to come up with more ambitious national climate plans by 2030. “The Egyptian presidency has drafted a text that clearly protects the oil and gas states and the fossil fuel industries,” she said. “This trend cannot continue in the UAE next year.”

COP27 took place against a very complex geopolitical backdrop, with global economic challenges, soaring fossil fuel prices, worsening food shortages and Russia’s war in Ukraine threatening to distract from the ongoing urgency of the climate crisis.

Despite this, business leaders also criticized the lack of progress and ambition achieved at COP27.

Elliott Whittington, director of policy at the Cambridge Institute for Sustainable Development Leadership (CISL), said that apart from a breakthrough in loss and damage, the Sharm el-Sheikh implementation plan “does not live up to the promise of its name”.

“At a time when more action is needed to achieve 1.5 degrees Celsius, too many countries have come to the talks wanting to lower their ambitions and abandon their global commitments,” he said. “Without a significant increase in commitments to divest from fossil fuels and reduce the carbon emissions that drive climate change, the loss and damage will be catastrophic and uncontrollable in the medium to long term.”

As a result, Whittington called on business, investors and governments to “consider how we can urgently raise ambition and accelerate further action, because every time we fail to deliver, we open the door to increased unnecessary economic costs, human suffering and environmental destruction . “.

This sentiment was echoed by Nick Molha, chief executive of Aldersgate Group. He said yesterday’s brokered deal “does not do enough to accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels and boost climate targets around the world” and that it highlights how far the political process lags behind the private sector when it comes to a net zero transition.

“The rapid growth in clean energy investment around the world and the rise in the number of companies committing to zero targets show us that market trends are well ahead of the global political consensus and that the urgency and benefits of tackling climate change are being recognized by a large part of the private sector.” he emphasized.

On a more positive note, yesterday’s final agreement did provide a number of firsts, namely marking the first time that the COP’s cover text includes references to natural solutions, the ocean, food and agriculture.

But despite COP27 coming just weeks before countries meet in Montreal for the landmark COP15 biodiversity summit, where hopes are pinned on a global treaty to halt and reverse biodiversity loss, the text made little reference to the role of nature in the fight against the climate crisis and vice versa.

“The COP’s climate-biodiversity nexus is unfortunate, but those working on the ground to protect, conserve and restore our natural environment will continue to integrate programs to make a broad impact,” said John Werdick, Director of International Climate Policy at Conservation nature.

COP27 may have been a historic breakthrough, but widespread fears remain that the chance of preventing more than 1.5C of warming looks even slimmer than it did two weeks ago.

https://www.businessgreen.com/news-analysis/4060531/cop27-frustration-builds-lack-progress-fossil-fuels-5c-goal-nature COP27: Frustration grows over lack of progress on fossil fuels, 1.5C target and nature

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