After 14 days of tough discussions, the climate summit ended in mixed results.
After long and difficult negotiations which far exceeded the planned schedule, COP27 ended on Sunday 20 November at dawn after adopting a much-discussed text on aid to poor countries affected by climate change, but without new ambitions for reduction in greenhouse gases.
After more than two weeks, the major UN climate conference ended more than a day behind schedule, making it one of the longest COPs in history. “It hasn’t been easy” but “we finally accomplished our mission“, underlined the Egyptian president of the conference Sameh Shukri.
Disappointment and unexpected deal
A final declaration resulting from many compromises was finally adopted, calling for a reductionfast“emissions but without new ambition compared to the last COP in Glasgow in 2021.”We need to drastically reduce emissions now, and that’s a question this COP hasn’t answered.“, regretted the Secretary General of the UN Antonio Guterres, at the end of the climate conference. In the aftermath, the European Union said to itself “disappointedby the emissions agreement.
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. This file ofloss and damagein poor countries had almost derailed the conference, before being the subject of a last-minute compromise text which leaves many questions unanswered, but acknowledges the principle of the creation of a specific financial fund. “Loss and damage in vulnerable countries can no longer be ignored even if some developed countries had decided to ignore our suffering“, greeted the young Ugandan activist Vanessa Nakate.
The text on emission reductions was also hotly contested, with many countries denouncing what they considered to be a step back from the ambitions defined at previous conferences. In particular on the most ambitious objective of the Paris agreement, to contain warming to 1.5°C compared to the pre-industrial erawhich is however reaffirmed in the final decision.
The current commitments of the signatory countries of the agreement do not make it possible to meet this objective, nor even that of containing the rise in temperature to 2°C compared to the pre-industrial era, when humans began to use en masse fossil fuels responsible for global warming. These commitments, assuming they are fully met, would at best put the world on course for +2.4°C by the end of the century and, at the current rate of emissions, on that of a catastrophic +2.8 °C. However, with nearly 1.2°C of warming currently, the dramatic impacts of climate change are already multiplying.
The year 2022 was an illustration of this, with its procession of droughts, mega lights and devastating floodsimpacting harvests and infrastructure. The costs of these extreme events also fly away : the World Bank has thus estimated at 30 billion dollars the cost of floods that left a third of Pakistan’s territory under water for weeks and caused millions of victims.
Poor countries, often among the most exposed but which are generally very little responsible for global warming, have been demanding for years funding for “loss and damage» that they undergo.
Conflicts and disagreements
The battle will not end with the adoption of the Sharm el-Sheikh resolution since it remains deliberately vague on certain controversial points. Operational details must be defined for adoption at the next COP, at the end of 2023 in the United Arab Emirates, promising new confrontations. Particularly on the issue of contributors, developed countries insisting that China be part of it.
Another subject that shook the COP: emissions reduction ambitions. Many countries considered that the texts proposed by the Egyptian presidency constituted a step backwards on the commitments to regularly raise the level made in Glasgow. “This COP has weakened the obligations for countries to present new and more ambitious commitments“, regretted Laurence Tubiana, architect of the Paris agreements of 2015.
Not to mention the issue of reducing the use of fossil fuels, the cause of global warming but barely mentioned in most climate texts. Coal had been cited in 2021 after tough exchanges but in Sharm el-Sheikh the “usual suspectsin the words of one delegate, once again opposed it for oil and gas. Saudi Arabia, Iran or Russia are the most often used country names.
The development of renewables is however the subject of an unprecedented mention alongside “low emissions», an expression generally applied to the nuclear industry.