The EU is facing growing demands for financial assistance from poor countries, which point out that the EU has all but given up on its efforts to cut CO2 emissions due to the energy crisis. The European commissioner for climate action, Frans Timmermans, replied that the EU’s increase in coal use this year is a short-term necessity, brought about by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He insisted that the EU will stay focused on its climate goals.
So far, COP27 talks have been dominated by the question of whether to create a reparations fund to cover the costs of disasters in the developing world caused by climate change. Poor countries want COP27 to agree a ‘loss and damage’ mechanism that will ensure such compensation. The EU and US have finally agreed that they should pay disaster-struck communities. Both are adamant that China (currently responsible over a quarter of the planet’s greenhouse gas emissions) and Saudi Arabia should contribute too. The question is – will an overarching deal be struck by Friday – when COP27 ends – or not? Resistance from rich countries suggests that it is unlikely that a functioning mechanism will be established. If not, there will always be COP28, which we now know will take place in Dubai in November 2023.
To put ‘loss and damage’ into perspective, the rich world made a combined contribution of $29 billion to address climate-related impact in 2020; this year’s floods in Pakistan alone cost the country $30 billion. Some more countries have announced new funding to support loss and damage in recent days, including New Zealand ($20m) and Austria (€50m). Germany and Denmark pledged more than €170m for the ‘Global Shield’, a new insurance fund that will help lower income countries cope with climate disasters.
President Joe Biden addressed the summit on Friday, stating that it is the responsibility of every nation to act on climate. He claimed that the US is a global leader on climate after it passed new laws to tackle global warming. “The climate crisis is about human security, economic security, environmental security, national security and the very life of the planet,” he said, echoing British premier Rishi Sunak’s comments last week that Russia’s war in Ukraine is a reason to act even faster on climate change.
Noting that the past eight years have been the warmest on record, he described the impact of climate change on Africa nations, pledging more money for poorer nations suffering from climate disasters, including drought and flooding. Mr Biden promised to tighten US rules on methane emissions from oil and gas companies. “Today, thanks to the actions we have taken, I can say with confidence the US will meet our emissions targets by 2030,” he said.
Poland’s Ministry of Climate and Environment has stated on its website that a Polish delegation is at COP27, mentioning the speech last week of President Andrzej Duda, but gives no further details of any deals that the Polish government may have been party to.
Monitoring the media reports from Sharm El Sheikh, I can see many reporters complaining about the poor organisation of this year’s summit, the low standards of cleanliness in the hotels and a near-lack of vegan food options. That, plus ongoing protests about the arrest of Egyptian civil-rights leaders. From a PR point of view, COP27 is not working out well for the Egyptian government.
Meanwhile, across the world in Bali, Indonesia, the G20 summit of the 20 largest economies (well, 19 plus Russia) is also addressing climate change. Concrete steps are being taken to address one of the big causes of climate change: deforestation. Brazil, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Indonesia, which host more than half the world’s rainforests, have pledged to work together to conserve them. Also expected at the G20 meeting is an undertaking by rich countries to wean Indonesia off coal, with a deal similar to that struck with South Africa last year at COP26 in Glasgow.