As the COP 27 climate summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, we’re hearing the same question that comes up every year: Why bother? Or, just a bit more optimistically—what will the COP have to achieve to make it worthwhile?
The short answer is that the annual talks are deeply flawed, but still beat the alternatives, The Energy Mix publisher Mitchell Beer writes in this week’s Energy Mix Weekender. It’s a slow, grinding, unbelievably complex way to get anything done, but still the best available option for countries to work together on problems that are too big to solve on their own.
Click here to get the whole story and subscribe to the Weekender.
“Halfway through COP 27, the stakes couldn’t be higher,” said Eddy Pérez, international climate diplomacy director at Climate Action Network-Canada. “Fossil fuel polluters and those who enable them have come in the hundreds to flood the negotiations and greenwash their way past 1.5°C, promoting morally bankrupt interests that will kill any possible movement towards a safe future.”
Meanwhile, “climate-vulnerable nations are fighting for their lives, looking for the world to send a hopeful message that they will not be left to cope with catastrophic losses and damages on their own. COP 27 is not a procedural COP; it is a climate justice COP.”
But to meet that expectation, Beer says COP 27, its Egyptian hosts, and the United Nations agency that coordinates the whole process have some tough questions to answer. And some unforced errors to correct.
• Why should anyone have any confidence in an annual conference series that took 21 years to adopt the Paris agreement, then another six years to finalize the “rulebook” for implementing what they’d decided?
• What was the UN climate secretariat thinking when it awarded two COPs in a row to countries bent on promoting a “dash for gas”, with all the climate-busting methane emissions that will result, as the “perfect solution” to climate change?
• How can we expect the UN climate process to deliver the faster, deeper carbon cuts we need when the fossil industry had a bigger delegation than any country at last year’s COP 26 summit in Glasgow—larger than any country—and added 100 more registered participants this year?
• How can Egypt and 16 other gas-exporting countries take advantage of a global climate negotiation, only the third ever held on African soil, to pitch a climate strategy that will deeply harm a continent already devastated by the impacts of climate change?
• How did this year’s COP Presidency end up in the hands of a government with 65,000 political prisoners and a national security apparatus so obsessive and oppressive that COP delegates are being warned not to discuss sensitive matters in taxis, where they should expect conversations to be monitored, or to download a conference app that will give Egypt access to their photos, emails, and whereabouts?
Get the whole story from this week’s Energy Mix Weekender