1.5C climate target died at Cop27, but hope must not | police27

When the story of the climate crisis is written, in whatever world awaits us, police27 it will be seen as the moment the dream of keeping global warming below 1.5C died.

Does that mean give up? Absolutely not. The 1.5C target is not a threshold beyond which hope also dies. Every fraction of a degree means an increase in human suffering and, therefore, we must fight for it. How? With everything we have, to break down the barrier between us and climate stability: the fossil fuel industry.

The 1.5°C target, beyond which the most disastrous climate impacts lie, is not yet physically impossible to achieve. To achieve this, global carbon emissions must be reduced by 50% by 2030even record levels of pollution they are still being pumped into the atmosphere.

The scientific warnings before Cop27 could not have been stronger: we are in the on the verge of an irreversible climate collapse. Yet behind closed doors at the summit, the fossil fuel states forced other countries to fight tooth and nail simply to preserve the inadequate status quo.

On Friday, a delegate from Saudi Arabia said: “We must not target energy sources; we must focus on emissions. We should not mention fossil fuels.” Despite the efforts of many other countries, the text of the final decision did not mention the phasing out of fossil fuels.

It is extraordinary that in 30 years of UN climate negotiations, the removal of the root cause of global warming has never been mentioned in decisions. With next year’s UN climate summit to be hosted by a petrostate, the United Arab Emirates, it’s hard to see how a campaign against fossil fuels will play out there.

The world should be racing to kick its addiction to fossil fuels like lives depend on it, because they do, but it’s jogging on the spot. The 1.5C target may not yet be physically impossible to achieve, but Cop27 has shown that it is politically impossible.

And now that? It remains imperative to get out of coal, oil and gas as soon as possible. Every ton of COtwo that stays in the ground means less damage to lives and livelihoods.

Can the UN climate talks deliver this quickly? It doesn’t look that way. It’s all too easy for fossil fuel states to hold consensus-based negotiations like a bailout, threatening to blow the whole thing up if their black gold is mentioned by name. There were more fossil fuel lobbyists at Cop27 than there were delegates from the Pacific islands, which their industry is pushing under the waves.

Instead, the fossil fuel industry and its wild expansion plans it will have to be fought elsewhere. The first place is in the mind. The global oil and gas industry has collected an average equivalent to $1 trillion a year in unearned profits during the last 50 years by exploiting a natural resource that belongs to the citizens. Imagine redirecting that financial powerhouse to decarbonize the world.

The fossil fuel industry can also be fought on the streets, in peaceful protest, and on the land looted by its expansion. Countries could avoid petrostates by forming a “weather club”, a proposal by the G7 to allow the ambitious to advance and penalize the laggards.

A fossil fuel nonproliferation treaty it would provide a transparent way to keep the remaining coal, oil and gas reserves intact. Even a tobacco-style ban on fossil fuel advertising, as endorsed by the World Health Organization, would help. All this, and more, will be necessary.

Cop27 achieved something. the new loss and damage fund promises to finance the reconstruction of the poorest and most vulnerable countries affected by increasingly severe climate impacts they have done little to cause. It is a longstanding recognition of the moral responsibility big polluters bear for the climate emergency. It’s all the more important given that Cop27’s failure to push through emissions cuts significantly means even worse disasters are ahead.

There is hope? Yes, in the sense that every climate action we take lessens the damage. As Cop27 closed, Kathy Jetn̄il-Kijiner, the poet and climate envoy for the Marshall Islands, said: “I wish we had phased out fossil fuels. But we have shown with the loss and damage fund that we can do the impossible. So we know we can go back [to Cop] next year and get rid of fossil fuels once and for all.”

I hope she’s okay. I’m afraid she is wrong.

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