A key objective of Cop27 was to strengthen the issuance promises made at last year’s climate summit in Glasgow. These are necessary to ensure that global warming is limited to 1.5°C. No such commitments have been made in Egypt and most observers now conclude that the world is bound to warm beyond this limit.
“I have a hard time understanding how anyone can continue to argue that 1.5C is still alive,” said James Dyke of the University of Exeter’s Institute for Global Systems. “Now we are entering a much hotter and more dangerous world.”
This point was endorsed by Professor Kevin Anderson of the Tyndall Center at the University of Manchester. “One year after the Glasgow COP26, another 40 billion tons of carbon dioxide have been released into the atmosphere. Another miserable facade of climate concern is ground to its ‘groundhog’ finish.”
loss and damage
Unsurprisingly, Cop27 was dominated by arguments about climate compensation due to poorer countries. Global warming has been caused by industrialized nations using fossil fuels to get rich. Therefore, they should reimburse the countries that suffer the most from climate change. Such “loss and damage” claims include Pakistan’s recent $30 billion bill for its floods.
Hopes were raised that a deal might be in the offing, but confusion surrounds the details of the deal. “The only bright spot in police27 there has been a renewed seriousness around loss and damage, with hundreds of millions compromised through various schemes,” said geographer Laurie Parsons, of Royal Holloway, University of London. “However, major concerns remain. The total funding needed for adaptation is at least $2.5 trillion by 2030, so we are still orders of magnitude away.”
global warming threatens to devastate habitats around the world, putting thousands of species at risk of extinction. These range from polar bears and tigers to monarch butterflies and sea turtles. However, the most spectacular threat is facing the planet’s coral reefs that serve as habitats for thousands of species. Global warming of 1.5°C will make 70-90% of coral reefs disappear. At 2C, 99% will be destroyed.
Threats like these will be hotly debated at Cop15, the UN biodiversity summit next month. However, no mention of the conference in Egypt has been made despite the strong link between climate change and species loss. On the other hand, the arrival of Lula da Silva, the new president of Brazil, struck a more positive note, who promised to do everything possible to save his country’s rainforests, in contrast to the pessimism of previous years about the fate of him
No more gas or coal
Hopes were raised at Cop27 that significant reductions in humanity’s burning of coal, gas and oil, the main causes of climate change, could be achieved. This optimism stemmed from India’s call for the burning of fossil fuels to be phased down, although it should not be phased out, it should be taken into account. But the proposal has not led to any significant follow-up, and the issue has yet to be resolved.
“Now it’s about damage limitation,” said Professor Richard Betts of the UK Met Office. “We should all work much harder to urgently reduce emissions to keep global warming as low as possible while also adapting to the changes we have already caused.”
Adjusting to a warmer world
Minimizing the warming of our planet by trying to limit carbon emissions is just one way to address global warming. The world also needs to adapt to be less vulnerable to looming floods, droughts, sea level rise and crop disasters as the planet warms. These adaptations would come in the form of improved flood defenses, levees, moving communities to higher ground, and protecting highways and railroads from storm surges and flooding.
Some improvements to previous commitments were suggested at Cop27, with reports indicating that a doubling of adaptation finance could be agreed. However, scientists once again warn that the promised funding levels are still far below the investments that will be needed in the near future.