After 14 days of tough discussions, the climate summit ended with mixed results.
After long and difficult negotiations that have far exceeded the expected timetable, COP27 concluded at dawn on Sunday 20 November after adopting a hotly contested text on aid to poor countries affected by climate change but without new ambitions for reducing greenhouse gases.
After more than two weeks, the main UN climate conference ended more than a day late, making it one of the longest COPs in history. “It wasn’t easy“but”we have finally completed our mission“said Egyptian conference chair Sameh Shukri.
Disappointment and unexpected agreement
Finally, a final declaration was adopted, the fruit of many compromises, calling for a reductionrapid“emissions but no new ambitions since the last Glasgow COP in 2021”.We need to drastically reduce emissions now, and this is a question this COP has not answered.“, regretted the UN secretary general Antonio Guterres, at the end of the climate conference. In the aftermath, the European Union said “disappointedfrom the emissions deal.
However, this edition was marked by the adoption of an emblematic resolution, described as historic by its promoters, on compensation for the damage caused by climate change already suffered by the poorest countries. This file oflosses and damagesin poor countries it almost derailed the conference, before being the subject of a last-minute compromise text which leaves many questions unanswered, but recognizes the principle of creating a specific financial fund. “Losses and damages in vulnerable countries can no longer be ignored even if some developed countries choose to ignore our suffering“, greeted the young Ugandan activist Vanessa Nakate.
The text on reducing emissions was also hotly contested, with many countries denouncing what they saw as a step backwards from the ambitions set out at previous conferences. In particular on the most ambitious goal of the Paris Agreement, limiting global warming to 1.5°C compared to the pre-industrial era, which is however reaffirmed in the final decision.
The current commitments of the signatory countries of the agreement do not allow this objective to be achieved, nor that of limiting the rise in temperature to 2°C compared to the pre-industrial era, when man began to use fossil fuels en masse responsible for heating global. These commitments, assuming they are fully met, would lead the world to at best +2.4°C by the end of the century and, at the current rate of emissions, to that of a catastrophic +2.8°C. However, with almost 1.2°C of warming now, the dramatic impacts of climate change are already multiplying.
The year 2022 was an example of this, with its procession of droughts, megafires and devastating floods, affecting crops and infrastructure. The costs of these extreme events are also skyrocketing: the World Bank has estimated the cost of the floods at 30 billion dollars, which submerged a third of Pakistani territory for weeks and claimed millions of lives.
Poor countries, often among the most exposed but generally with little responsibility for global warming, have been asking for funding for years “losses and damages» that they suffer.
Conflicts and disagreements
The battle will not end with the adoption of the Sharm el-Sheikh resolution as it remains deliberately vague on some controversial points. The operational details for the adoption at the next COP, at the end of 2023 in the United Arab Emirates, must be defined, promising new clashes. Particularly on the issue of contributors, developed countries are insisting that China be a part of it.
Another topic that rocked the COP: ambitions to reduce emissions. Many countries felt that the texts proposed by the Egyptian presidency constituted a step backwards from the commitments to raise the bar regularly made in Glasgow. “This COP has weakened the obligations for countries to submit new and more ambitious pledges“, lamented Laurence Tubiana, architect of the 2015 Paris accords.
Not to mention the issue of reducing the use of fossil fuels, a cause of global warming but barely mentioned in most climate texts. Coal had been quoted in 2021 after tough trading but in Sharm el-Sheikh the “usual suspectsin the words of one delegate, he once again stood up for oil and gas. Saudi Arabia, Iran or Russia are the most used country names.
However, the development of renewables is the subject of an unprecedented mention alongside “low emissions», an expression generally applied to the nuclear industry.