World Climate Conference: Struggle for the final declaration of the UN climate conference

World Climate Conference
Struggling for the final declaration of the UN climate conference

Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock speaks to the press at the world climate conference in Sharm el Sheikh. photo

© Christophe Gateau/dpa

At the world climate conference, the delegates bend over key points for the final declaration. Climate protectors complain: too vague, too lax. Will the UN meeting be extended, as is so often the case?

One day before the planned end of the two-week UN climate summit, the Egyptian conference management presented the key points for a final declaration for the second time. The 20-page paper with many unresolved issues calls for a gradual phase-out of climate-damaging coal, but not for oil and gas to be abandoned. Environmental protection organizations criticized Thursday that the text was a “construction site”: too long, too vague and contradictory. But there are also bright spots.

The executive director of Greenpeace Germany, Martin Kaiser, said that the necessary worldwide exit from oil and gas must now be introduced into the document at high pressure. Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) must also personally campaign for this. “It would be absolutely unacceptable if, at the end of a two-week climate conference in the middle of climate collapse, the results of the previous year were repeated at most.”

Oxfam expert Jan Kowalzig also told the German Press Agency that it would be “a major oversight” if the COP27 climate conference did not send out a clear signal that the move away from all fossil fuels is inevitable. The director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Johan Rockström, criticized that not talking about fossil fuels when it comes to climate protection is like saying that the economy is not about money.

The two-week conference in Egypt, which was attended by around 34,000 people, is scheduled to end on Friday. However, an extension is increasingly considered likely.

Many questions still unanswered

Another unresolved issue is the demand from poor countries for compensation payments for the damage they have suffered, for example after droughts, floods or hurricanes, which are becoming stronger and more frequent due to global warming. Whether a new pot of money will be set up for this remains unclear.

Tom Evans of the climate think tank E3G said that the US and the EU must present an ambitious package on the issue of compensation, known in UN jargon as “loss and damage”. Otherwise there is a risk that other points will also be watered down. He summed it up: “We’re not where we need to be.” The Egyptian presidency lacks a “uniform vision” for compromise lines. At 20 pages, the text is “incredibly long” with a lot of repetition and even some “rather frustrating internal contradictions”.

Many “weasel words” with vague and fuzzy meanings have crept into the text, criticized Catherine Abreu from the Canadian climate advisory body NZAB. Such words would justify the “status quo” of oil, gas and coal power generation, rather than calling for its phase-out.

The text calls on the states to improve their largely inadequate climate protection plans by the next climate conference at the latest, which will take place in the United Arab Emirates at the end of 2023. Oxfam’s Kowalzig said it was not drawing any useful conclusions that the plans are too lax. “In this respect, the text lacks a great deal of urgency and political will to turn things around before the important 1.5°C limit falls out of reach.”

Chain reactions threaten

In 2015, the states agreed in Paris to limit warming to 1.5 degrees compared to pre-industrial times. The world has now warmed up by a good 1.1 degrees, Germany even more. According to scientific warnings, exceeding the 1.5-degree mark significantly increases the risk of triggering so-called tipping elements in the climate system and thus uncontrollable chain reactions.

David Ryfisch from Germanwatch told the dpa that the COP27 is far from a result that everyone can support. “It is worrying that the proposal falls behind the results of last year’s world climate summit in some areas.” On the other hand, positive is the strong reference to the results of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and to the need for a reform of the international financial architecture so that all money flows towards climate protection.


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