COP27: Another year, another toothless deal


COP27 may not have received as much acclaim as last year’s climate change conference in Glasgow.

It’s fair enough – the Prime Minister was only there for a single day, diplomats descended on Egypt instead of the UK and British politicians are more focused on the nation’s economic woes than its future.

But the United Nations Climate Change Conference has the potential to achieve so much in between the bureaucracy and rhetoric. It led to the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement. With time ticking on taking action to save the planet, it’s the most serious indication activists have that the people in charge care.

After two weeks of intensive negotiations, the summit closed with little fanfare, however.

The positives must be acknowledged – richer nations will now pay less developed ones for the damage and economic losses caused by climate change.

Less fortunate countries had been battling this for decades. They demanded compensation caused by the effects of industrialisation and development that have made wealthier countries the way they are.

But overall, COP27 must be seen as a missed opportunity.

The globe’s most prolific fossil fuel producers succeeded in resisting the demands for bolder action on climate change when it came to coal, oil and gas.

In the end, a watered down agreement similar to the one struck at COP26 – to phase down polluting coal power and phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies.

The EU’s green chief Frans Timmermans said: “The world will not thank us when they hear only excuses tomorrow.

“This is the make or break decade but what we have in front of us is not enough of a step forward.

“What we have in front of us is not enough of a step forward for people and planet. It does not bring enough added efforts from major emitters to increase and accelerate their emissions cuts.”

Even Tory Alok Sharma recognised the urgent action needed on fossil fuels. He said: ““We joined with many parties to propose a number of measures that would have contributed to this emissions-peaking before 2025, as the science tells us is necessary.

“Not in this text.

“Clear follow through on the phasedown of coal.

“Not in this text.

“A clear commitment to phase out all fossil fuels.

“Not in this text.

“And the energy text weakened in the final minutes.”

Though eminently possible, tackling climate change effectively is proving to be politically unfeasible.

There are always nations who, despite recognising the need for change, will act in their own interests.

Activists can do little but carry on their brave efforts to influence, lobby and raise awareness. But it’s money that talks.

What hopes then for COP28, to be held in one of those fossil fuel producing nations, the UAE? A glimmer of hope, perhaps?

Not in this text.

Featured Image: UN Climate Change @ Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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