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COP27 climate summit to test world’s resolve to fight war and inflation

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  • Many of the biggest players distracted by crises
  • Global greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise
  • Floods, droughts, heat waves are wreaking havoc around the world
  • ‘Not on track on anything,’ says Egyptian negotiator

Oct 31 (Reuters) – An international climate summit starting next week in Egypt will test nations’ resolve to tackle global warming, even as many of the biggest players are distracted by pressing crises ranging from war in Europe to runaway consumer inflation.

More than 30,000 delegates, including representatives from some 200 countries, will meet Nov. 6-18 in the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh to discuss ways to slow climate change and help those already feeling its effects .

But with nations dealing with the fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, soaring food and fuel prices and stuttered economic growth, questions arise over whether they will act quickly and sufficiently. ambitious plan to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

The cooling of relations this year between the main emitters of greenhouse gases, China and the United States, does not bode well, according to experts.

A United Nations report released last week showed most countries are behind schedule on their current carbon reduction commitments, with global greenhouse gas emissions on track to rise by 10.6 % by 2030 relative to 2010 levels.

Scientists say emissions must drop 43% by then to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial temperatures – the threshold above which climate change risks to get out of control.

Only 24 of the nearly 200 countries taking part in the COP27 talks have submitted new or updated emissions reduction plans since last year’s United Nations climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland, although all s were committed to doing so, according to the UN climate agency.

A few countries, including Chile, Mexico and Turkey, are expected to release new plans at the conference in Egypt, but it is unclear whether major developing economies like China and India will be among them.

“The chance for China to take another big step before COP27 is slim,” said Li Shuo, a China climate expert with environmental group Greenpeace who is familiar with the government’s thinking.

Alden Meyer, international climate policy expert at E3G, said the fraying diplomatic relations between Washington and Beijing on issues such as Taiwan and the war in Ukraine were a headwind for global climate progress, noting that past collaboration between the two had helped to stimulate the climate negotiations.

“Is it possible to make progress without the United States and China collaborating? Yes it is, but it is not easier,” he said.

The administration of US President Joe Biden, meanwhile, has urged US and international oil and gas drillers to increase production to cope with tight global markets, lower consumer prices and offset supply disruptions. linked to Russia’s war on Ukraine – showing how the energy crisis changed the political priorities of a president who had campaigned on a promise to quickly end the age of fossil fuels.

The US delegation to the UN conference is likely to tout Biden’s legislative victories on climate change, including the passage of the Cut Inflation Act, which included billions of dollars in subsidies for climate change. wind and solar energy and electric vehicles.

LOSSES AND DAMAGES

The two-week UN talks in Egypt follow a year of savage weather disruption around the world as global warming takes its toll – from devastating floods in Pakistan, South Africa and Nigeria, to waves of heat in the Arctic and throughout Europe and to record droughts in the American West and in France.

The talks will likely focus on how these and other countries affected by climate change could be compensated by the wealthy countries believed to be the cause. Other topics will include how international financial institutions such as the World Bank could be reformed to accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels.

The issue of mobilizing new finance to offset climate-induced destruction is contentious, with wealthy countries, including the United States and members of the European Union, having opposed previous proposals for a fund” loss and damage” due to concerns about their liabilities.

US special envoy on climate change John Kerry said last week that the US supports serious dialogue on the subject at COP27, but said the issue was tricky given upcoming congressional elections. that could swing the legislature toward Republican control.

He also pointed out that the United States is the world’s largest donor of humanitarian aid and will focus on increasing climate adaptation spending.

This message rings hollow for some.

“I don’t want to hear political rhetoric about loss and damage. I don’t want to hear what countries are already doing in terms of disaster relief because it’s not enough,” said Aminath Shauna, climate minister of the Maldives, a chain of low-lying islands in the Indian Ocean facing future flooding with rising sea levels.

The talks were boosted by the election in Brazil on Sunday of left-wing leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, whose team has denounced deforestation while calling for an international summit on the fate of the Amazon.

The talks could also focus on natural gas, given its importance to the host continent. Oil-rich African nations say they have a right to develop their resources, especially as Europe scrambles to find new suppliers to replace Russia.

“African nations will call out the hypocrisy of Europe making gas deals in the name of energy security while telling African nations not to develop their baseload energy resources,” said Lily Odarno, director of the Africa climate program of the Clean Air Task Force.

Egypt’s top climate negotiator, Mohamed Nasr, said the summit’s success would be measured by whether countries deliver a set of agreements that maintain the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5C. , while ensuring that poorer nations are treated fairly and receive the support that richer countries have promised.

“Climate change leaves us no space to breathe,” Nasr said. “Science tells us we’re not on the right track on anything.”

Reporting by Valérie Volcovici; Editing by Richard Valdmanis, Katy Daigle and Janet Lawrence

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