The creation of a COP27 loss and damage fund in Egypt marked a historic milestone for the most vulnerable countries, however, other issues remained outstanding. Even though the United Nations Climate Change Conference was due to end on Friday 18 November, the negotiations dragged on until early Sunday morning, due to one point in particular: the mention of fossil fuels in the final text.
According to the latest IPCC report, coal, oil and gas were responsible for 64% of greenhouse gas emissions in 2019. However, the final text does not mention how to phase out these fossil fuels. The previous year, in Glasgow, countries had pledged to reduce coal consumption and eliminate subsidies for these pollutants, however this year the talks in Sharm el-Sheikh did not move to the next stage.
While there was an attempt in the final text to allude to the phasing out of all fossil fuels, as an alliance of more than 80 countries – including Chile – promoted the inclusion of this point in the closing text, this it did not happen after opposition from oil and gas producing countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Iran and Russia.
Environmental Policy Adviser of the Foundation for the Environment and Natural Resources (FARN), Enrique Maurtua Konstantinidis, said The meter that somehow achieving the loss and damage provision has come at the cost of less progress, mainly in mitigation.
“In a sense, that has been the bargaining chip in reaching this historic milestone for the P&C fund. When you look at all the negotiating issues, many have come across as weak, modest or relatively inconsequential,” said Maurtua Konstantinidis.
Furthermore, the leader of the negotiations in Saudi Arabia, Albara Tawfiq, told the plenary that the convention “must refer to emissions and not to the origin of the emissions”.
Furthermore, according to an analysis of data by Corporate Accountability, the Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) and Global Witness (GW), 636 interest groups were registered during COP27 relating to some of the largest oil and gas companies in the world. Which means an increase of more than 25% of the lobbyists present at the Conference of the Parties in relation to COP26.
This data reveals the extent to which players from companies such as BP, Shell, Total and Occidental have accessed the trades.
“There is an energy transition underway, it is gaining strength and it is present in many spaces, this is undeniable, so we are facing the slaps of an industry that is trying to continue to stay current in one way or another, what a success in Sharm el-Sheikh he’s dealing with an industry that is doing everything it can to keep exploiting as much as possible while it can, because it knows its days are numbered and I think it’s something you notice,” commented Enrique Maurtua Konstantinidis.
The councilor for environmental policies stated that, compared to other years, the presence of a greater number of lobbyists present in Egypt was known. This year, the country that brought the most interest groups was the United Arab Emirates, with 70, the same one that organizes and will preside over COP28.
“Fuel not only gets engines going, it also makes weather worse, and those same countries will also be affected. So there is a dilemma between economic development, wealth, what the impacts will be against which can be much more serious and costly than all the economic benefits those countries could get,” warned the expert.
The 1.5 degree goal?
This year’s deal also reaffirmed Glasgow’s goal of keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. In this sense, the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions should be a priority to fulfill the commitment of the Paris Agreement, to limit global warming to less than 2ºC and, consequently, reduce the losses and damages associated with the climate crisis.
In addition, stressed the Minister of the Environment, Maisa Rojas, in conversation with The meter in La Clave– that “the creation of the fund, the acknowledgment that we have losses and damages, is very important because it has been a request for many years by the most vulnerable countries and which have least caused the problem, but it also denotes the collective failure that we have had in addressing the causes of climate change, that we are not reducing our emissions.
“The cause, that we address it by reducing our emissions, is where in this COP there was little ambition to lighten it, to get to work in a more ambitious way. It was very frustrating, because we remember that the goal of the L’ Paris agreement is to limit the temperature to 1.5°C, we are at 1.1°C,” he added.
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In this sense, the researcher of the Center for Climate Science and Resilience (CR)2, Marco Billi, argued that “loss and damage make sense” only if they are “complementary to mitigation and adaptation”.
“It seems that here, damages and losses, is as a substitute and nothing has been put forward in the other matters. Here it is neither: losses and damages should be the last resort. If we cannot mitigate or adapt Well, we’re going to have to compensate, so the first way is to compensate and it’s not explicit that any progress has been made on that,” Billi explained.
He also added that, reaffirming for two consecutive years that the ambition is not to exceed 1.5 ºC, there is no real progress without concrete action.
“Stopping emissions requires structural changes, countries are growing and energy needs are growing and nobody wants to stop it. We need to radically change the way we produce certain energy, transport and industries that depend on growth and coal. The need to an energy transition is thematic, and the problem is that the exact when and how are not put into words,” he concludes.