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Climate & Energy Editor
Climate & Energy Editor
As of today, more than a hundred heads of state and government have gathered at the Climate Summit in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. Many of them will give a speech today and tomorrow, explaining what they want to achieve at the meeting. Egyptian President Sameh Shoukry urges action despite global turmoil.
Shoukry said that it should come as no surprise to anyone that this United Nations climate summit will be held “in a world witnessing political turmoil that casts a shadow over all our countries and led to energy and food crises.” According to him, these problems should not lead to the postponement of climate action.
UN Secretary-General Guterres emphasized that this climate summit is a time for change:
It’s time for ambitious and credible climate action
Over the next two weeks, representatives of nearly 200 countries will make efforts to combat further climate change. The world is still not on track to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees. Climate promises countries have made so far add up to 2.5 degrees of warming. Much according to climatologists, who previously showed that more than 1.5 degrees leads to particularly large and partially irreversible consequences.
Why is it important to keep global warming below 2 degrees? What degree is more or less important? In this video we explain the following:
Why 1.5 degrees is not just a number
Egypt, as president of the conference, is trying to emphasize Africa’s weakness. Yesterday it was announced that for the first time at the Climate Summit, the damages from climate change are also on the agenda. Many poor countries have wanted it longer, because they are vulnerable, while they themselves have contributed little to greenhouse gas emissions. Rich countries have retreated, but now they are progressing.
“The climate crisis has consequences that go beyond what weak countries alone can bear,” said European Commissioner Frans Timmermans. “We need solutions that meet the diverse needs on the ground and enable a rapid expansion of support to those who need it most.”
This does not mean that it is easy to determine how the discussion will proceed. Initial calculations speak of hundreds of billions of euros that may be required. But it will be difficult to determine the qualifying damages. Because extreme weather events have always existed, sometimes the damage is also the result of an inappropriate policy to prevent damage. And floods like the one in Pakistan show that a lot of money can be used.
China and India
The main absentees from this summit are Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Therefore, it is questionable whether really difficult agreements can be struck in Egypt, as it is no longer among the largest emitters at the highest level. US President Biden wasn’t there yet at first. He will head to Sharm el-Sheikh later in the week, after the elections in his country are held tomorrow.
In his speech, the new British Prime Minister Sunak will insist that by no means will the leaders renege on the commitments made in Glasgow last year. For example, at last year’s Climate Summit, it was agreed that coal use would be phased out, deforestation and methane emissions would be combated.
It is not yet clear how the protests, which are usually a lively feature of climate conferences, will erupt during this summit. Human rights groups are concerned about this, saying that Egyptian activists should not be allowed to approach the conference. Well-known climate activist Greta Thunberg, who has been a regular visitor to Climate Summits for a few years, said she would stay home this time.
Some scholars, environmental and relief organizations are using the summit as an opportunity to publish new insights and reports. Oxfam Novib, for example, today publishes a publication showing that the emissions and investments of 125 billionaires generate the same amount of carbon dioxide as the emissions of all of France. Thus, their individual average is a million times higher than the average emissions of 90 percent of the world’s population, according to Oxfam Novib.
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