Talks at COP27 are entering the home stretch - but the draft deal has been criticized for setting the stage for 'climate hell'

Talks at COP27 are entering the home stretch – but the draft deal has been criticized for setting the stage for ‘climate hell’

Around 35,000 delegates from nearly 200 countries are expected to gather in the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh to discuss collective action to tackle the climate emergency.

Ahmad Gharabli | AFP | Getty Images

As COP27 climate summit talks enter the home stretch, ministers and negotiators from nearly 200 countries are scrambling to reach consensus on a range of critical issues to tackle the emergency climatic.

The United Nations climate agency published a 20-page first draft of a hoped-for final agreement on Thursday. It is highly likely to be reworked in the coming days as climate envoys from the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh scramble to reach a comprehensive agreement before Friday’s deadline.

The so-called ‘non-paper’ repeats many of the goals of last year’s Glasgow Climate Pact, including continuing efforts to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius and calling for ongoing efforts to “phase down” coal power relentlessly.

However, it does not push for a phase-out of all fossil fuels, as India and the European Union had called for.

The UN document said it ‘welcomes’ the agreement to include payments for ‘loss and damage’ for the first time, but does not include details on how to establish a mechanism financing loss and damage – a very controversial and emotional issue that is like a fundamental issue of climate justice.

Environmental activists reacted to the content of the document, which is likely to be very different from the final political agreement, with deep concern.

“As climate impacts and injustice accelerate, lives, livelihoods, cultures and even entire countries are being lost, the latest draft COP27 Presidency cover note pushes the pedal on the road to climate hell,” Yeb Saño, executive director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia, said in a statement.

This echoes a stark warning from UN chief Antonio Guterres earlier this month. Speaking at the start of the two-week COP27 conference, António Guterres said humanity is “on the road to climate hell with the foot still on the accelerator”.

“We came to Sharm el-Sheikh to demand real action to meet and exceed climate finance and adaptation commitments, a phase-out of all fossil fuels, and for rich countries to pay for losses and losses. damage to the most vulnerable communities in developing countries by agreeing a loss and damage financing fund,” said Saño.

“None of that is on offer in this draft. Climate justice will not be served if it sets the bar for a COP27 outcome.”

Nearly 200 countries “have to agree”

The success of the UN-brokered talks is seen as likely to hinge on whether policymakers can agree to establish a new stream of funding to support victims of climate disasters and curb emissions that warm the planet.

It comes amid growing calls for wealthy countries to compensate vulnerable nations as it becomes harder for many people to live safely on a warming planet.

Rich countries, despite accounting for the bulk of historic greenhouse gas emissions, have long opposed the creation of a fund to deal with loss and damage.

Brazilian President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva speaks during the COP27 climate conference in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on the Red Sea.

Ahmad Gharabli | AFP | Getty Images

It is believed that the slow progress in finding a consensus could allow the talks to continue through the weekend, although host country Egypt has previously insisted that the talks remain on the right track. way – and warned the countries that they had to reach an agreement.

“The future of humanity, without exaggeration, is at stake,” said Wael Aboulmagd, Egypt’s special representative to the COP27 summit, according to Reuters.

“So we can just push and encourage and use all the tools in our toolbox. But at the end of the day, some 190 sovereigns have to agree.”

World leaders took to the stage at COP27 last week to insist that geopolitical issues, such as Russia’s assault on Ukraine, must not derail urgent and collective climate action.

It comes as Russia’s war in Ukraine threatens to derail the European Union’s decarbonization goals.

Indeed, some European governments have been prompted to reconsider coal, one of the dirtiest and most polluting ways to produce energy, after a prolonged period of reduced Russian gas flows.

“Holding Polluters Accountable”

Tzeporah Berman, international program director at grassroots environmental organization Stand.Earth, said on Thursday that the UN’s non-paper “ignores the science” of capping global warming at the critical temperature threshold of 1.5. degrees Celsius.

Berman said via Twitter that the document does not mention oil and gas, does not mention fossil fuel expansion and warned that while “relentless coal phase-out” is present, the term “relentless was “a loophole large enough to drive a drill through.”

“Climate agreements and politics are complicated, but what isn’t is that 86% of the emissions trapped in our atmosphere that cause climate change and air pollution come from 3 products oil, gas and coal. These 3 things are the leading cause of premature death in the world. to air pollution,” Berman said.

“Our failure to recognize this in 27 COP is a result of the power of fossil fuel incumbents, especially the big oil and gas companies in force at this COP who made their products invisible in the negotiations.”

Degrowth: is it time to live better with less?

Certainly, the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas is the main driver of the climate crisis.

Analysis of campaign groups released earlier this week showed that more than 600 fossil fuel industry delegates were registered to attend COP27, representing an increase of more than 25% year on year. last.

The surge in attendees associated with some of the world’s biggest polluting oil and gas giants at the UN climate conference has raised questions about the ability of the fossil fuel industry to shape the debate.

Harjeet Singh, head of global policy strategy at the Climate Action Network, which includes more than 1,500 civil society groups, told CNBC that meaningful progress at COP27 would not be made unless the conference adopts measures to address the root causes and consequences of the climate emergency.

“If you look at loss and damage and fossil fuels, both have not been on the agenda and both are the key issues at the heart of everything – one is the cause and the second is the consequence. “We never talked about cause and consequence in the UNFCCC space, we talked about something, somewhere in the middle. That’s why we’re not here,” Singh said.

“Now is the time, when people are suffering, to hold polluters to account because they are the ones making money and yet they are responsible for the climate crisis, the health crisis, the energy crisis”, he added. “They take advantage of every crisis.”

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