20 November 2022   1 comment

The United Nations Conference of Parties (COP) finished its last session in Egypt on measures to address climate change. In many important respects, it was a miserable failure: no agreements were reached on effective limitations on greenhouse gas emissions other than a weak resolution that reiterated the language of last year’s conference in Glasgow to a “phase-down of unabated coal power.” Without any agreement on limitations on fossil fuel emissions, the world has accepted that the 1.5° C target for global temperature increases will not be met. Global temperatures have already increased 1.1°C over pre-industrial levels and emissions continue to rise.

Even with an increase of less than 1.5°C the world is experiencing serious climate events such as wildfires, droughts, loss of biodiversity, floods, and intolerable nighttime elevated temperatures. For example, the floods in Pakistan earlier this year covered almost 30% of the country’s territory, leading to an estimated $40 billion economic loss and deaths in the 1500s.

Economic and political conditions make 2022 an inauspicious year to combat fossil fuel emissions. The war in Ukraine has led to dramatic shifts in energy consumption and some states, like India and China, have gone back to burning coal which is more accessible and cheaper than less destructive emissions from sources such as natural gas. And the economic losses associated with the COVID pandemic have amplified demands for economic growth even at the expense of the environment. It is impossible to predict when these pressures will abate.

The cruelest irony of the climate crisis is that some of its most damaging effects will be felt in areas and in countries that have poor populations that emit a small fraction of the emissions emitted by richer countries. This disparity has stymied previous COPs because poorer countries think that richer countries should pay higher costs to avert climate change. There was a symbolic victory on that issue in COP27. After a marathon session of 40 hours, the delegates finally agreed to create a “loss and damage” fund to subsidize the efforts of poorer countries to adapt to the effects of climate change. Reuters notes:

“The deal for a loss and damage fund marked a diplomatic coup for small islands and other vulnerable nations in winning over the 27-nation European Union and the United States, which had long resisted the idea for fear that such a fund could open them to legal liability for historic emissions.

“Those concerns were assuaged with language in the agreement calling for the funds to come from a variety of existing sources, including financial institutions, rather than relying on rich nations to pay in.

“But it likely will be several years before the fund exists, with the agreement setting out only a roadmap for resolving lingering questions including who would oversee the fun, how the money would be dispersed – and to whom.”

The world doesn’t have much time to take action to forestall serious disruptions. Apparently, some believe that we have more time than is actually the case.

Posted November 20, 2022 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

One response to “20 November 2022

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  1. Thank you for sharing. Until we have huge catastrophes caused by climate change, no one will take the demise of our planet seriously. The damage to the earth so far is tolerable. Let us wait for the real Armageddon to start.


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