A slight shift in justice, another climate disaster

In addition to politicians, hundreds of lobbyists flew to the Egyptian resort. Despite some partial successes, the politicians succumbed to them again and sacrificed us. Human civilization continues to hurtle toward climate disruption. Photo by Mohammed Abed, AFP

After an exhausting — almost forty hours long — final meeting, the COP 27 climate conference ended early Sunday morning in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. The conference was extended by two days compared to the original plans, due to the negotiation of a historic agreement on the mechanism for paying damages to the states most affected by the climate crisis. Once again, politicians have failed on climate protection and our society continues to hurtle towards climate disruption.

I wrote last time about the circumstances of the conference being held against the backdrop of the brutal Egyptian regime, which suppresses all opposition and civil society. From a political point of view, the conference turned out according to my predictions at the time. There was no fundamental shift, we only recorded partial shifts in individual states. However, one historical surprise did occur.

For the first time in history, the representatives of the UN countries approved the establishment of the compensation mechanism for losses and damages (loss and damage mechanism) to poorer countries that suffer the most from the effects of climate change. The states of the global south have tried in vain to enforce this policy for over thirty years. In addition to poorer countries, its introduction is also celebrated environmental organizations.

However, this is only a small step towards correcting the global injustices associated with the climate crisis. There are no exact rules under which the disbursement from the fund will work, nor mechanisms for how the rich countries will fill the fund. Details should be discussed at the next climate conference held in the United Arab Emirates.

There is a real danger that the mechanism for paying out losses and damages will turn out to be similar to the Green Fund, which is intended to support the energy transformation of the countries of the global south. The countries of the Global North for a long time does not fulfill its obligations and the Green Fund is more or less yawning. Even so, the approval of the loss and damage mechanism is an important symbolic victory for the countries of the global south over the rich industrialized countries and a possible promise for the future.

The fossil lobby dominated the negotiations

As usual, there was a lot of interest in the climate conference, especially from fossil corporations. Civic organizations charted that visited the conference 636 representatives of fossil companies. Compared to the previous year, this is a twenty-five percent increase. If we were to compare it with state delegations, this number is greater than that of all countries except for the representatives of the United Arab Emirates. The Arab state sent a delegation of 1,000 to host the conference next year.

Civil organizations draw attention to the leniency of the UN towards the lobbyists of major polluters for many years. Nevertheless, their number is growing every year. Due to their influence, even this year, the demand for the end of fossil fuels, or even their limitation, did not make it into the final wording of the agreement. In the text, only the vague demand for the end of coal and the new wording demanding an increase in low-emission sources remain.

According to experts, it is this new formulation that opens up space for the expansion of fossil infrastructure, especially efforts to transition from coal to gas. Commentators also warnthat another wasted conference practically means political resignation to achieving the goal of keeping the average warming of the planet at one and a half degrees above pre-industrial times.

According to scientists, we will exceed this goal in the next decade, most likely around 2031. We can avert this threat only if greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 cut in half. Current events thus confirm our seven-year-old analysis of the Paris Agreement, which first introduced this goal. Even then, my colleague Josef Patočka and I prophesied that setting an ambitious goal without a credible path to achieving it is practically pointless.

From the point of view of the overall direction towards the necessary reduction of emissions, we have not advanced a single step. Fossil fuels are still not identified by the UN countries as the main culprit of the climate crisis, and the fossil lobbyists, who were in full force in Sharm el-Sheikh, are happy about the outcome of COP 27.

Hero Lula, partial shifts in individual states

Nevertheless, the Egyptian conference will be remembered thanks to small positive developments. A massive ovation from the conference staff was especially received by the new Brazilian president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who in his speech promised the return of Brazil to ambitious climate protection goals and declared a goal to completely stop the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest by 2030. In response to his announcement, key countries such as Norway and Germany renewed their contributions to the forest conservation fund.

A slight shift can also be seen in the policy of the European Union, which has decided to tighten its target for reducing emissions by 2030 from fifty-five to fifty-seven percent compared to 1990. Dozens of other states, including the Czech Republic, joined the call to reduce methane emissions by 30 percent by 2030 compared to 2020. In total, one hundred and fifty UN countries subscribe to this goal. The question, of course, is whether states will comply with these goals. Maybe it’s time to ask Petr Fiala how we can achieve this in our country.

Commentators also positively evaluate the deepening of bilateral cooperation between the United States and China, without whose contribution the climate crisis cannot be solved. Representatives of these states met regularly behind the scenes of the conference. Wealthy nations have also pledged to help specific countries in the Global South move away from coal. For example, Indonesia will get twenty billion dollarsto do away with coal.

Neither politicians nor business will save us

The climate conference was also a step back in terms of the goals of big business. As the analyzes show, most of the big business decarbonisation initiatives launched at last year’s Glasgow conference have stalled and major investment firms are scaling back their climate targets. According to commentators, the reason is the start of the war in Ukraine, which opens up space for new investments in the development of fossil infrastructure.

I don’t even know how many times I write that neither business nor politicians will get us out of the climate crisis. Emissions are rising and the climate conference in Egypt certainly did not reverse this trend. According to scientific analysis, we are still on a warming trajectory by more than two and a half degrees Celsius, which would most likely mean the collapse of current civilization. And we are talking about a scenario where all states fulfill their voluntary commitments promised during climate conferences.

It is therefore necessary to constantly repeat the obvious truth. The climate movement has made significant strides — such as achieving end-coal policies in many countries around the world — especially through activities outside of climate conferences. The next one takes place in the oil-soaked United Arab Emirates, so there’s no point in putting big expectations into it. In short, we will have to fight for the future of the planet despite politicians and corporations.

Source: Deník referendum by denikreferendum.cz.

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