COP 27: success or failure?

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By LISZT VIEIRA*

A humanity is threatened, but the facts of reality have been neglected by the ignorance of some and the greed of others

The 27th Conference of the Parties (COP), organized by the UN, was held from 6 to 20 November 2022 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. The two weeks of negotiations resulted in a final “minimalist” agreement that decided on the creation of a fund for the irreversible damage caused by global warming. But the elimination of fossil fuels is not mentioned in the text. One of the most important points of this COP was President Lula's speech, internationally acclaimed and recognized as a statesman.

The UN Climate Conferences have been branded a “factory of slowness” by Amy Dahan, a researcher at the National Center for Scientific Research in France. She calls for mechanisms to oblige countries to respect their climate commitments, under penalty of sanctions (portal MediaPart, on November 20, 2022).

COP 27 had the great merit of recognizing for the first time the need to financially help the most vulnerable countries to face the damage caused by global warming, as they suffer the climate impacts caused by emissions from developed countries. For the first time, the need to help financially the most vulnerable countries was recognized. “COP27 did what no other COP has done,” said Mohamed Adow, Executive Director of the NGO Power Shift Africa (Le Monde, 20/11/2022). Vulnerable states have insisted on collecting the “climate debt”: they are the main victims of droughts, floods or hurricanes, which cause human and economic losses, although they have contributed less to greenhouse gas emissions.

But the big disappointment was that, once again, the 196 countries present were unable or unwilling to face the environmental impacts caused by fossil fuels. In other words, no progress in combating climate change. Despite the conclusions of the last Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the final decision of COP27 does not mention a peak in greenhouse gas emissions until 2025 and does not commit countries to drastically reduce their emissions.

In addition, the so-called Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) are below what they should be in order to meet the target of the Paris Agreement de Limit global temperature rise to 1,5°C. according to the platform ClimateWatch, maintained by World Resource Institute (WRI), 99 countries strengthened their commitments under the Paris Agreement in 2015. Some, unfortunately, did nothing, including Brazil. While there have been improvements from previous NDCs, current climate commitments will reduce current emissions by just 7% by 2030, far below the target of 43% from 2019 levels.

Global fossil fuel gas emissions are likely to reach record levels by 2022 and show no signs of declining. The trend puts countries further away from their goal of containing the global warming. This year, countries are expected to emit about 36,6 billion tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) which warms the planet due to the burning of coal, natural gas and oil to generate energy, according to data from the Global Carbon Project. That's 1% more than the world issued in 2021 and just above the previous record in 2019, which came before the coronavirus pandemic cause a temporary drop in global energy use and emissions.

Um recent report by the International Energy Agency states that global demand for fossil fuels is likely to peak and then plateau sometime in this decade. One of the main reasons is that many governments have responded to the ukrainian war adopting policies to begin to move away from oil, gas and coal. The agency also calculated that this year's increase in emissions from fossil fuels would have been three times as high if not for the rapid deployment of wind turbines, solar panels and electric vehicles around the world.

Thus, despite acknowledging the progress made in the decision to oblige developed countries to contribute financially to compensate for the losses and damages of vulnerable countries, from the point of view of the imperative need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming, COP 27 was a failure as it did not make progress in relation to COP 26 , held in 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland, when it was expected to advance in sectoral objectives to accelerate the reduction of emissions.

At COP 27, once again the fossil fuel lobby showed its power. The final agreement fails to ignore the need to propose an end to fossil fuels. The goal of not exceeding 1,5º in global temperature is under threat. The consequences for humanity would be catastrophic.

In 2002, historian John McNeill warned that humanity has been dangerously approaching “planetary frontiers,” that is, the physical limits beyond which the planet's ability to support human activities could completely collapse. (Something New Under the Sun, McNeill, 2002). Extreme weather events do not cease to confirm his warning: droughts, floods, desertification, excessive temperatures, natural disasters, environmental refugees.

In a more recent warning, British scientist Sir David King, founder of the Center for Climate Repair at the University of Cambridge, declared: “What we do in the next five years will determine the future of humanity in the next millennium. This is how serious it is: this is our last chance.” (Piauí, 28/10/2021). The situation is serious, humanity may be threatened, but the facts of reality are being neglected by the ignorance of some and the greed of others.

*Liszt Vieira is a retired professor of sociology at PUC-Rio. He was a deputy (PT-RJ) and coordinator of the Global Forum of the Rio 92 Conference. Author, among other books, of Democracy reactsGaramond).

 

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