Limiting global warming to 1.5°C ‘more fragile’ than ever, says Cop27 president – The Irish Times

The goal of limiting global warming to 1.5C is “more fragile” than ever as world leaders prepare to meet for crucial climate talks, the negotiations’ president-elect has warned.

Sameh Shoukry, the Egyptian foreign minister, who will chair the UN Cop27 climate summit next month, said in a rare interview that reaching an agreement would be more difficult than at any other recent talks. on the climate, due to the “turbulent” world economy and the “difficulties”. geopolitical tensions, fueled by the war in Ukraine.

“It is more fragile, due to the impact of the current global situation,” he told the Guardian in an interview. He said the deal reached at Cop26 in Glasgow last year had been overshadowed by events since. “[The circumstances for Cop27 are] Quite difficult. They go beyond the circumstances that existed in Paris or Glasgow in terms of issues and impacts, economic or geopolitical. But we have to keep hope and focus and try to insulate and insulate the negotiation process from some outside circumstances.

He warned that rich countries were losing the trust of the developing world as they fell behind on their commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions and climate finance.

“If countries are to backtrack or deviate from their commitments and efforts to maintain these agreements and understandings reached in Paris and Glasgow, we will be on track to have more 2Cs and maybe up to 3.6C, according to available science,” he said. “These are contradictions and everyone has to be serious about dealing with these contradictions.”

Some wealthy countries, including the UK, US and EU member states, have turned to increasing fossil fuel production, amid the energy crisis that has sent oil prices skyrocketing. gas price.

Shoukry declined to name individuals, but warned: “We encourage all parties to refrain from backtracking, from resorting to greater reliance on fossil fuels. It defeats the purpose and puts everyone in jeopardy and danger. This is not an incentive for developing countries, which are being encouraged to switch from fossil fuels, to do so. I think we have to lead by example. »

Last year’s Cop26 talks in Glasgow ended with countries pledging to limit global temperature rise to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, based on comprehensive scientific assessments showing that beyond this level, the impacts of the climate crisis become catastrophic, and some of them irreversible.

However, most countries have not set targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in line with a 1.5°C limit in Glasgow, nor put in place the policies needed to achieve these targets. They were supposed to return to the Cop27 table this year with revised plans.

Those plans have been upended by this year’s extraordinary political upheaval, with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sending energy and food prices skyrocketing, and a serious run-in between states. USA and China. on Nancy Pelosi’s visit – the third-longest-serving member of the ruling US Democratic Party – on the disputed island of Taiwan.

But Shoukry said the failure of developed countries to meet their emissions targets was the most serious problem. “We recognize the geopolitical conditions that have evolved over the past year, whether it’s the Russian-Ukrainian war or the tensions between the United States and China. But more broadly, the question of trust has resurfaced after the momentum created by Paris and Glasgow on how we can make progress on tackling climate change,” he said.

Confidence would stem from developed countries meeting their commitments on emissions – known as nationally determined contributions (NDCs) – and financing the poorest countries, he said. “We hoped that the momentum created at Cop26 would translate into revised NDCs. So far, only a few countries, including Egypt, have filed revised NDCs with the [UN climate] secretariat. We therefore hope that at COP27, others will present not only their commitment, but also their desire to implement these commitments in an impactful way.

The issue of trust was “fundamental”, he said. “Developing countries are watching the situation and seeing to what extent they have to continue to assume the burdens that they have announced, if they see that there are others who have greater capacity, greater facilities , [and] don’t. Those who contributed the most to the problem should be more willing to help solve it.

He said countries can and should overcome the conflicts that have arisen since COP26. “We have to try to isolate these geopolitical tensions, these disagreements and focus on the issue at hand, which is how to move forward together. Because we cannot move forward alone – we will not succeed – we must move forward together if we want to progress, if we want to fight climate change effectively.

Speaking from the Foreign Ministry in Cairo, Shoukry offered to mediate talks between the United States and China, the world’s biggest emitters. “I’ve had long talks with both of them and offered the potential to be a communicator, and we’ll see how things go during Cop himself.”

Egypt has been heavily criticized for its human rights abuses and repression of civil expression. Shoukry insisted that civil society organizations could fully participate in COP27. “We hope we will have a significant input and turnout,” he said, pointing out that the space open to them would be larger than at the Glasgow conference center and that 9,000 representatives had registered. . “I’m encouraged by their enthusiasm, by their commitment, by their advocacy, and I think they have an important role to play in keeping governments honest and on track. It is the constituency that is most affected.

British-Egyptian blogger and pro-democracy activist Alaa Abd El-Fattah is on hunger strike in prison in Egypt. When asked if El-Fattah’s situation could be resolved ahead of COP27, Shoukry said, “We need to focus on the issue at hand, which is climate change… The challenge we face in on climate change is quite important and regardless of other issues, although important. , should not distract us from our main objective. – Guardian

Teresa H. Sadler