Energy crisis and Ukraine war have lowered expectations for COP27: Transition to renewables ‘will take longer than anticipated’

The last time world leaders met because climate summit, the background is absolutely menacing. A pandemic has drained the national budget. Poor countries are facing the hoarding of Covid-19 vaccines by the very rich countries whose fossil fuel consumption has helped warm the planet the most. The relationship between the two biggest emitters, the US and China, has turned into zero-sum skirmishes on everything from Trade to Taiwan.

Those are good memories.

As Egypt prepares to enter COP27, the geopolitical landscape that shapes all international diplomacy has shifted from tense to precarious. The war in Ukraine has divided nations over what some see as a battle between Russian and Western interests, and fueled an energy crisis that threatens to destroy most concrete achievements. of COP26: global consensus to cut coal.

As COP26 approaches, falling renewable energy prices seem to have forced the dirtiest fossil fuels into account. The final text of the conference included calls for “gradually phasing out” coal power from any carbon-free plants and ending “inefficient” subsidies for fossil fuels. A year later, rampant energy price inflation combined with a protracted energy crisis to restore demand for coal and put subsidies for any fuel back on the political agenda.

“COP27 will be convened while the international community is facing a financial and debt crisis, an energy price crisis, a food crisis, and, above all, the climate crisis,” said Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, who also chairs the conference. “Following the current geopolitical situationLooks like the transition is going to take longer than anticipated.”

Hungry for coal

The UK has fulfilled its hosting mission at COP26 by claiming to have upheld the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Those gains are now at best stalled or at worst reversed by the wartime logic brought about by the invasion of Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin has turned Europe’s energy rations into an economic weapon in response to sanctions, and major developed economies face sudden scarcity of natural gas supplies. racing to open the door old coal-fired power plants.

The European Union voted in July to natural gas reclassification – in addition to nuclear power – as a climate-friendly fuel, improving investment prospects.

The rise to fossil fuels may be temporary. Europe’s demand to end reliance on imported gas for heating homes and electric industries has never been so clear-cut. At the same time, the cost of gas – 10 times higher than pre-crisis levels – will create a strong incentive to look for alternatives, and the cheapest option is often solar or wind power. US President Joe Biden approved one of the most important parts of the climate law so far. That will only boost renewable energy growth in the field, which already outstrips the overall expansion of electricity generation.

However, it is far from suggesting that war or the recent turn to fossil fuels will be just a blip. Now, as Russia ramps up its war effort with a recently announced mobilization, the race is on to lease or build new liquefied natural gas stations across Europe. If the continent with the most geopolitical pride in its climate commitments is falling behind, that’s not good for progress at Egypt’s Sharm El-Sheikh beach resort.

“There is no need to argue further about gas,” Bruno Jean-Richard Itoua, the Republic of Congo’s Minister of Hydrocarbons, announced in September at an oil and gas conference that includes Mauritania, Senegal, The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau and Guinea. – Conakry. “We need to start producing as much as we can right now.” Other African officials at the event also echoed this pro-fossil fuel stance.

“A lot of countries now say it is hypocritical” to call for coercion dirty energy sourceBill Hare, managing director and senior scientist of Climate Analytics, a Berlin-based consulting organization. “So you’re seeing this really big push to renovate oil and gas projects that have been around for years in Africa and Australia, far beyond what was needed for the gas crisis in Europe.”

Climate program feedback

Hare sees a traditional energy company pushing for investment in a time of crisis. “I have rarely seen such a concerted effort by the oil and gas industry to push back on the climate agenda,” he said.

Al Gore, former vice president of the United States and climate activist, warning at the end of last month, that it is essential that governments avoid signing long-term contracts for fossil fuels in a rush to fill the short-term gaps caused by Russia’s war. Substances supporting the use of fossil fuels have doubled from a Covid low in 2020, to 2021 and continue to rise sharply this year, according to a September report from the United Nations Organization Economic Development and Cooperation, an intergovernmental organization in Paris.

There are other conundrums to be discussed at this year’s climate summit, the first to be hosted by an African country in six years. Egypt is planning to focus this year’s COP meeting on how developing countries can get funding to adapt to rising temperatures and finance the transition to green energy. . It also prioritizes losses and damages, a term for compensating countries that emit less greenhouse gases but are on the front lines of its impacts.

Money to help less developed countries mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change is still lacking. Rich countries have agreed to provide $100 billion annually by 2020 and have already dropped billions of dollars, pushing the target back to 2023. Home team Egypt is facing inflation soaring to 15% at the end of September from 5.9% at the beginning. of year. The national budget is being consumed by the need for basic food supplies, causing the current account deficit in the first three months of this year to more than halve to $5.8 billion.

Shoukry wants COP27 to agree on how much additional money will be transferred from rich to poor countries after 2025. The latest estimates for funding developing nations climate goals are in the range of 6,000 billion dollars by 2030, according to the OECD. But with economies rich and poor both grappling with rising inflation, falling revenues and frequent political upheaval, finding that currency is getting harder and harder. Shoukry acknowledged those concerns and urged governments to rise to the financial challenge, as they have done during the pandemic.

Preliminary meetings were held earlier this year in Bonn to discuss technical issues ahead of COP27 saw an outbreak between rich and poor camps, especially in terms of loss and damage. Those tensions are likely to become evidence again at Sharm El-Sheikh.

Gabriel Obiang Lima, Equatorial Guinea’s Oil Minister, said: “Rich countries have been extracting and economically benefiting from fossil fuels for decades, heeding Africa’s call Discontinuing hydrocarbons is not fair. “Now is the time for us to develop and monetize our resources, and developed countries should understand.”

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