At COP27, a divided world at the bedside of a planet in danger

Representatives of a divided world in turmoil are meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh for a two-week conference at the bedside of a planet wracked by climate catastrophes and still on the path to catastrophic global warming.

Alarming reports have multiplied since COP26 in Glasgow, when nearly 200 countries solemnly pledged to “keep alive” the most ambitious goal of the Paris Agreement, a major agreement concluded in 2015. To limit global warming to 1.5 ºC compared to the pre-industrial era, when people began burning massive amounts of fossil fuels (coal, oil or gas) that emit greenhouse gases responsible for global warming.

But since then, only twenty-four countries have raised their pledges and are not visible to the UN “no credible leads” to achieve this goal.

A trajectory of +2.4°C

Both if all countries kept their promises, which did not happen, the world is on a 2.4°C warming trajectory by the end of the century. With current rules, a catastrophe of +2.8 ºC is looming. “Unfortunately not worth it”, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres blasted.

However, it is not certain that COP27 will lead to real progress in this field, even though the Egyptian presidency boasts of a “implementation conference”.

Calling to put aside divisions, UN-Climate chief Simon Stiell also urged “moving from words to action. Paris showed us what to do. Glasgow showed us how. In Sharm el-Sheikh, it has to be done”.

The renewed tension between the two main global polluters, the United States and China, however weighs in on the conference. Chinese President Xi Jinping will not attend and American Joe Biden is expected to pass after the midterm elections on November 8. However, the two may see each other on the sidelines of the G20 in Bali, during the second week of the COP. “If the two biggest emitters don’t talk to each other, we won’t be able to touch 1.5ºC”warned Li Shuo, of Greenpeace China.

Catastrophic effects are increasing

However, with almost 1.2 ºC of warming currently, catastrophic effects are already increasing, as shown in 2022: terrible floods in Pakistan, where a third of the country is under water, or in Nigeria, heat waves, large fires and drought affecting crops.

Awareness has increased in developed countries, which are most affected, but action has not followed, particularly on funding, perhaps the most debated topic on the COP27 menu.

Rich countries have actually still not fulfilled the promise made in 2009 to increase their funding to 100 billion dollars per year by 2020 to help the poorest reduce emissions and adapt to the effects of climate change. The value reached 83.3 billion in 2020, according to the latest, controversial report from the OECD. The target must now be reached by 2023.

It is too late, and above all too little, to denounce the worst, hardly responsible for global warming but in “front line” of its destructive effects.

“A hundred billion doesn’t begin to meet a fraction of the needs”, warned Wael Aboulmagd, special representative of the Egyptian presidency of COP27. And call on “achieve and exceed” this purpose, “Important to trust” the countries of the South shook to the countries of the North.

Funds are delayed

The most exposed countries are now calling for dedicated funding for “loss and damage” already suffered. But developed countries are very reluctant, and last year only accepted the creation of a dialogue on the question, planned until 2024. However, they must accept that the topic is officially on the agenda in Sharm el-Sheikh. “Everyone agrees that there has to be a way to fix this. The difficulty is in the details. emphasizes Ambassador Aboulmagd, while Simon Stiell asks “an open and honest discussion”. “Will we respond to more than three billion people living in fragile countries? »protested Harjeet Singh, head of strategy for the Climate Action Network, the main global coalition of more than 1,800 NGOs.

“We will judge the success or failure of COP27 on an agreement on this facility for financing loss and damage”added Munir Akram, Pakistan’s ambassador to the UN and president of the G77+China, the main group of developing and poor countries in the climate negotiations.

Funding for adaptation, which rich countries pledged to double last year, is also lagging behind. “However, it is better to pay for the doctor before (the injury) than the undertaker afterwards”hurts Avinash Persaud, representative of the Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Motley, who is campaigning for comprehensive reform of the global financial system, to refocus it towards climate action.

New climate activists are fueling the debate

Works of art doused in soup, sports competitions suspended, roads blocked: through innovative shock actions, new supporters of civil disobedience have brought the climate inaction debate to headlines, assuming the risk of opinion theft. These militant groups have increased their actions in recent weeks, each one down to an emergency need at the national level: thermal renovation in France, forest fires in Australia, the exit from fossil fuels in Norway. ..

On Saturday, a dozen Last Repair activists so blocked traffic near the French Ministry of Economy, to denounce the government’s choice not to keep an amendment in favor of the thermal renovation of buildings in its draft budget for 2023. During this time, two environmental activists stuck to the frame of Goya’s paintings , at the Prado Museum in Madrid , to denounce the inaction of the authorities in the face of global warming. Unlike typical activism, targets do not necessarily have a direct connection to the message.

The Belgian political scientist François Gemenne, who contributes to the scientific reports of the UN (IPCC), calls for organizing actions, judging. “catastrophe” to deal with art while endorsing the “symbol” the half-masting of the French flag at the Pantheon, carried out on Monday by Dernier Rénovation.

In these actions, “What counts is to shift the object of the action to say: listen, let’s take on everything, including the most sacred that is art, because opposite, it’s the death that awaits us if we do nothing”, summarizes Xavier Arnauld de Sartre, geographer at the CNRS.

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