COP27 ends with mixed picture: France regrets ‘lack of climate ambition’

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COP27 concluded in Egypt after two weeks of dedicated climate debates. The final text calls for a “rapid” reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. A text on aid to poor countries affected by climate change has been adopted. Europe and the UN express their disappointment.

After long and difficult negotiations that have far exceeded the expected timetable, COP27 ended this Sunday at dawn after adopting a controversial text on aid to poor countries affected by climate change but without new ambitions for the reduction of 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 finally accomplished our mission”, underlined the Egyptian chairman of the conference Sameh Choukri.

A compromised final declaration was finally adopted, calling for a “rapid” reduction in emissions but with no new ambition since the last Glasgow COP in 2021. to which the COP has not responded”, regretted the UN secretary general, Antonio Guterres, at the end of the climate conference. The European Union later said it was “disappointed” by 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. The issue of climate “loss and damage” in poor countries nearly derailed the conference, before being the subject of a last-minute compromise text that leaves many questions unanswered, but recognizes the principle of creating a specific financial fund . “Loss and damage in vulnerable countries can no longer be ignored, even if some developed countries have chosen to ignore our suffering,” said young Ugandan activist Vanessa Nakate.

A decline criticized

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 responsible for global warming. 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 not responsible for global warming, have been asking for funding for the “losses and damages” they suffer for years.

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‘Usual Suspects’

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 comparisons. 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 countries’ obligations to present new and more ambitious commitments,” lamented Laurence Tubiana, architect of the 2015 Paris accords. Not to mention the issue of reducing the use of fossil fuels, at the origin of the global warming but barely mentioned in most climate texts. Coal was quoted in 2021 after tough trading but in Sharm el-Sheikh the “usual suspects”, in the words of one delegate, were again opposed for oil and gas. Saudi Arabia, Iran or Russia are the most common country names.

However, the development of renewables is the subject of an unprecedented mention alongside “low emission” energies, an expression generally applied to nuclear power.

France and the European Union express their disappointment

France welcomes progress for the most vulnerable countries but regrets COP27’s “lack of climate ambition” in Egypt, in a statement by Energy Transition Minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher. “No progress has been made on the need to make further efforts to reduce greenhouse gases and on the gradual elimination of fossil fuels. It is a real disappointment”, regrets the minister who underlines however that this summit “responds to the expectations of the most vulnerable countries with a big step forward: the creation of new instruments for financing the losses and damages linked to climate disasters”.

For Germany “hope and frustration” are mixed in the results achieved by the COP27 climate conference in Egypt. “We have made a breakthrough on climate justice, with a broad coalition of states after years of stagnation,” Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said on Twitter. But “the world is wasting precious time on the 1.5 degree trajectory” due to a lack of ambition to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the environment minister said.

For its part, the European Union said it was “disappointed” this Sunday morning by the lack of ambition in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the agreement signed at the COP27 climate conference in Egypt. “What we have here is too short a step forward for the people of the planet. It does not provide enough additional effort from major emitters to scale up and accelerate their emissions reductions,” the vice president said in a fiery speech. by the European Commission Frans Timmermans at the closing plenary session after a two-week conference.

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