Negotiations are still slow, but there was a glimmer of hope today as the US and China agreed to resume cooperation on climate issues. Draft lyrics are also circulating, providing clues as to what could be in the final deal at the end of the week.
So what happened today at COP27?
1. US-China climate cooperation could reinvigorate the COP27 negotiations
President of the United States Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping have agreed to resume cooperation on climate change. It offered a much-needed boost to the negotiations at COP27.
The two leaders of the world’s largest carbon emitting countries met at the G20 summit in Indonesia. They indicated they would “empower key senior officials” in areas of cooperation, including climate change.
Heading into the final week of the UN climate conference, progress has been slow.
Spain’s climate minister, Teresa Ribera, said she was confident the deal could spur negotiations in Egypt.
“The two biggest emitters have to be cooperative and ambitious,” he told Reuters.
2. The climate problem is overconsumption, not overpopulation
The world population reached 8 billion on Tuesday. At the same time, the planet is getting hotter.
But experts say the two aren’t as connected as you might think. The problem is consumption rather than overpopulation.
A small number of people are causing far more than their fair share of emissions.
Kenya, for example, has 55 million people, about 95 times the population of Wyoming in the United States. But Wyoming emits 3.7 times the amount of carbon dioxide of Kenya.
Africa as a whole has 16.7% of the world’s population, but historically emits only 3% of global carbon pollution.
The United States, however, has 4.5 percent of the planet’s population, but has emitted 21.5 percent of heat-trapping carbon dioxide since 1959, according to data from the Global Carbon Project.
“The question isn’t about population, but rather about patterns of consumption,” said climate scientist Bill Hare of Climate Analytics.
“So it’s best to look at the major northern emitters to start with.”
3. The European Union raises its target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions
The The European Union has updated its climate commitments with plans to reduce emissions by 57% by 2030.
“I am happy to announce here today that the EU is ready to update our NDCs (nationally determined contributions) which reflect this increased ambition,” EU climate policy chief Frans Timmermans said at the COP27 conference in Sharm El Sheikh.
“Don’t let anyone tell you, here or outside, that the EU is backing down.”
The pledge is part of the “Fit for 55” package which aims to make the bloc carbon neutral by mid-century.
Other measures include carbon sinks and increased investment in electric cars. From 2035, all new cars in the EU will have to be carbon neutral, effectively banning petrol and diesel vehicles.
But activists insist the EU could do more. CAN Europe has analyzed whether existing commitments will keep us below the Paris Agreement 1.5 degrees Celsius global warming target.
He concluded that the EU’s emissions reduction target should be raised to 65% to avoid a devastating rise in temperature.
4. Activists criticize world leaders for supporting fossil fuel projects
Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate has criticized world leaders who continue to support new fossil fuel projects.
“Many leaders’ goal is to make deals with fossil fuel lobbyists, survive the next election cycle, and make as much profit as possible in the short term,” Nakate said at a side event of the United Nations climate talks.
He warned that COP27 was infiltrated by oil and gas representatives who turned it into “a sales and marketing conference for more pollution and more destruction”.
It comes after campaign groups Global Witness, Corporate Accountability and Corporate Europe Observatory revealed it fossil fuel lobbyists outnumbered nearly all national delegations at the conference.
They released an analysis last week that showed 636 oil and gas lobbyists were registered to attend COP27.
“Tobacco lobbyists would not be welcome at health conferences, arms dealers cannot promote their trade at peace conventions,” they said.
“Those who perpetuate the world’s dependence on fossil fuels should not be admitted through the doors of a climate conference.”
5. Ukraine wants the whole world to hold Russia accountable for the environmental damage of the war
Last night, the Minister of the Environment of Ukraine Ruslan Strilets spoke at a COP27 side event. He exposed the environmental impact of the invasion of Russia.
Since the start of the war in February, Ukraine says it has collected evidence of more than 2,200 cases of environmental damage, costing a total of 37.8 billion euros. It is collecting evidence of environmental crimes with which to sue Russia and is launching a platform to assess the damage caused by military action.
“The main challenge, and we understand this, is that it will be very difficult for us to bring (legal) cases for any environmental damage,” Strilets said.
He added that too war directly led to the emission of 33 million tons of greenhouse gases. Rebuilding the country could cause an additional 49 million tons of emissions.
“We call on everyone to join the fight for the life of human civilization. Not only Ukraine, but the whole world should demand responsibility from Russia.”