“With COP27 we lost a year. The 1.5°C target is moribund”

Frans Timmermans, Dutch Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of the Green Deal, has his say “big disappointment” after the climate conference (COP27) in Sharm-El-Sheikh, Egypt, and outlines the prospects for environmental action in Europe.

“The world will not thank us”, he reacted at the end of COP27. Do you think his results are not up to the climate emergency?

This COP27 was very disappointing. No mention of an end to fossil fuels, no mention of a peak date for greenhouse gas emissions, no updates to so-called national reduction commitments… Nothing has been done about reducing emissions. We have lost a year. We also had to fight like crazy to avoid going backwards, to save the results of the COP26 in Glasgow [Ecosse]. Is not sufficient.

In Glasgow, we parted ways on a pledge that more emitting countries would launch more ambitious projects to further reduce emissions. Most don’t. If we waste more time, it means that we have to do even more in the time we have left. It becomes politically and technically more and more difficult.

Does this mean that the goal of limiting global warming to below 1.5°C has become unattainable?

The 1.5°C target is moribund but still alive. The more time passes, the more difficult it becomes to keep it. And all the more the measures to be taken will be costly and painful. For this we must use all the time we have left: every year, every month, every week, every day. This goal depends not only on Europe, but also on the G20 countries, responsible for 80% of global emissions. So if there isn’t real change in China, India and the other G20 countries, we will never get there.

Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers Should we declare that it is no longer possible to limit global warming to 1.5°C?

If we consider the investments that these two countries are making in renewables, they are still considerable, especially in China. I continue to hope that the latter manages to reach its emissions peak well before 2030. In this case, 1.5°C remains possible. So we have to work with the Chinese to try and get there.

The agreement on financing “loss and damage” for the countries most vulnerable to global warming has however been described as historic…

This is the great success of this COP27. And we owe it in part to the European Union [UE], because it was our proposal that was accepted. This means that we can restore relations between North and South.

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