Loss and damage
Developing countries have been seeking financial aid for loss and damage for nearly three decades – money needed to save and rebuild the physical and social infrastructure of countries devastated by extreme weather. Reaching agreement on a fund is an important milestone. Now comes the hard part: the fund has to be established and filled with cash. There is no agreement yet on how the funding should be provided and where it should come from.
The 2015 Paris agreement included two temperature targets: to keep the increase “well below 2°C” above pre-industrial levels and “continue efforts” to keep the increase to 1.5°C. Science has since clearly shown that 2C is not safe, so at Cop26 in Glasgow last year countries agreed to focus on a limit of 1.5C. Because their commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions were too weak to stay within the 1.5°C limit, they also agreed to return each year to strengthen them, a process known as the ratchet. At Cop27, some countries tried to abandon the 1.5C target and abolish the ratchet. They failed, but a resolution to peak emissions by 2025 was passed, much to the dismay of many.
Cop27’s final text included a provision to encourage “low-emission energy”. That can mean a lot, from wind and solar farms to nuclear reactors and coal-fired power stations with carbon capture and storage. It can also be interpreted as gas, which emits less than coal but is still an important fossil fuel. Many countries at Cop27, especially those from Africa with large reserves to exploit, came to Sharm el-Sheikh hoping to secure lucrative gas deals.
Last year, a commitment was agreed in Glasgow to phase out the use of coal. It was the first time a resolution on fossil fuels had been included in the final text – some would say, unbelievable after 30 years of conferences on climate change. At Cop27, some countries – led by India – wanted to go further and include a commitment to phase out all fossil fuels. That was the subject of intense bickering late into Saturday night, but in the end it failed and the resolution was the same as the one in Glasgow.
Reforming the World Bank
A growing number of developed and developing countries are calling for urgent changes to the World Bank and other publicly funded financial institutions, which they say have failed to provide the necessary funding to help poor countries reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the consequences of climate change. climate crisis. Reforms of the sort much talked about at Cop27 could involve recapitalization of development banks so that they can provide much more aid to developing countries. Nicholas Stern, a climate economist and colleague, has calculated that developing countries will need $2.4 trillion a year from 2030 onwards. carbon infrastructure. The World Bank could provide about half of that money, he estimates.
Building flood defenses, preserving wetlands, restoring mangrove swamps and regrowing forests – these measures, and more, can help countries become more resilient to the impacts of the climate crisis. But poor countries often struggle to get funding for these efforts. Of the $100 billion a year that rich countries promised to receive from 2020 – a promise that has still not been fulfilled – only about $20 billion goes to adjustment. In Glasgow, countries agreed to double that share, but at Cop27 some tried to withdraw that commitment. After some struggle it was reaffirmed.
Tipping points, the IPCC and health
Since Cop26, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has published key parts of its latest comprehensive review of climate science, warning of catastrophic consequences that can only be averted through sharp and urgent reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. The IPCC was set up by the UN to advise on science, but some countries wanted to remove references to the latest findings from the final text. Instead, reference was made to the main finding of “tipping points” – a warning that the climate is not warming gradually and linearly, but that we risk tripping feedback loops that will lead to rapidly escalating effects. These include the warming of the Amazon, which could turn the rainforest into savanna, turning it from a carbon sink into a carbon source, and the melting of permafrost releasing the powerful greenhouse gas methane. A reference was also inserted to “the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment”. Medical professionals have come to play a much more prominent role in climate talks and in climate protests, making a clear link between global warming and health.