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No major progress at COP27 amid slow negotiations: Experts

No major progress at COP27 amid slow negotiations: Experts
Europe needs to invest in just transition so as not to depend on Russian gas any longer, says NGO official

By Burak Bir

ANKARA (AA) - Like the 26th UN Climate Change Conference, more commonly referred to as COP26 held in 2021, the discussions at the latest COP27 in Egypt from Nov 6-18 were also extended but have been described by many experts as "disappointing."

The 27th Conference of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), or COP27, was held in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

Early Friday, the last day of the talks, it was announced that the closing was extended by a day or two to reach a "consensus" between parties.

Although COP27 was expected to be an event where concrete steps might be taken to address climate change, the conference has drawn criticism since the beginning of the talks – from hosting a "high number of oil and gas lobbies" to the language of the draft outcome published on Thursday.

Another question was how global challenges like the Russia-Ukraine war would affect the decision-making process of the talks, as there has been a global slowing in green policies at some level, while countries have already increased their uses and dependencies on fossil fuels amid the energy crisis driven by the war.

Anadolu Agency spoke with two experts who participated in the COP27 talks just before the end of the meetings. They related their experiences regarding the talks as well as expectations about what decisions could be made amid global challenges.

Rebecca Byrnes, deputy director of the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative, pointed out the general nature of negotiations that "always move slowly" and said COP27 is not an exception.

She said her group has not seen major progress on any of the agenda items that need to be discussed, apart from some positive steps from the "Santiago Network for Loss and Damage," which was established to connect developing countries with providers of technical assistance, knowledge, and resources.

"But what we haven't seen is a willingness of countries to put finance towards loss and damage or to commit further finance to any other climate action," said Byrnes.

She said that while Sharm el-Sheikh has been framed as "an implementation COP," by not figuring out the financial issue, no one cannot expect countries in the Global South to implement their climate plans as many are dependent on fossil fuels for basic revenue, and economic development.

"The negotiations themselves are really, really slow and that's disappointing," said Byrnes.

- War-affected talks

Byrnes said she feels the war in Ukraine "definitely had an impact on the conversation around energy" in negotiations at COP27.

She said she finds it "quite unfortunate" that European countries benefit from energy for five to 10 years, pushing Africa on fossil fuels, which will eventually leave the continent with stranded assets that are expensive.

Byrnes highlighted that if Europe wants to wean itself from Russian gas, then it needs to invest in a just transition for its people – scaling up renewable energy massively.

"So we call on the Global North not to lock African countries into more gas development as a result of the Ukrainian war, but rather to actually invest in a proper sustainable and development pathway that's based on renewables," she said.

Regarding carbon emissions, she pointed out the Paris climate deal's non-binding structure that allows countries to voluntarily determine their targets for reduction in carbon emissions.

"So here in Sharm el-Sheikh, there are limited ways to pressure countries to commit to reducing their emission further," she noted.

The negotiations have so far been very uncertain about the outcome of COP27, added Byrnes.

- Need to move away from fossil fuels

Stephen Cornelius, WWF deputy climate and energy lead, said despite political tensions, the Group of 20 countries sent "a strong message" to negotiators to get a meaningful outcome from COP27.

"We can't afford for the fossil fuel crisis to drive short-term decisions, which will have long-term implications for climate change," he told Anadolu Agency.

Cornelius said world leaders "must do everything possible" to move economies away from fossil fuels – coal, oil, and gas – and scale up climate solutions such as renewable energy "before it's too late."

"It's been almost two weeks, and the governments' meeting at the UN climate talks still have many issues to resolve," he said, adding that the draft outcome is not promising at a time when the talks are heading to an end.

Defining the context of the draft text as with "very weak language" about fossil fuels, Cornelius emphasized the need to step up efforts for a just transition in the energy sector and the promotion of renewable energy and energy efficiency.

"So far, governments are failing to deliver at the scale and speed we need to protect people from the climate crisis," he said.

- Controversial draft text

The draft final text of COP27 has been widely criticized for being "weak" as well as for not even mentioning oil and gas while pointing out "unabated coal."

The Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative decried the text and said that it is too late to phase out one fossil fuel at a time. "Governments must manage an equitable transition away from ALL fossil fuels."

Mentioning "unabated coal," the group said the loophole should be removed from the COP27 cover text as it could enable the fossil fuel industry to justify almost anything from methane control to unproven offsets.

"The current text backslides on inadequate commitments from Glasgow. 'Phase-out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies is now 'rationalize inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, in line with national circumstances.' This language should be rejected," the group wrote on Twitter.

source: News Feed
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