The UN climate summit concluded early Sunday in the Egyptian city of Sharm el Sheikh and was a “victory” for developing countries and a “disappointment” for those who criticized the lack of ambition of the 200 participating countries. That “victory” was the support for an agreement responding to a historic demand from the countries most vulnerable to the effects of the climate crisis: the creation of a fund under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change to help them bear the cost of the consequences of global warming, a phenomenon to which they have barely contributed with their relatively low levels of pollution.
Although this topic managed to mark the media agenda in the coverage of COP27 from its beginnings, the objectives of the summit were focused on increasing the ambition in the climate change mitigation plans -the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions-, something that was relegated to the background, according to estimates from the European Union sources.
The approval of the fund “shows that this UN process can achieve results and that the world can recognize that the situation of the vulnerable should not be treated as political football,” said PowerShift Africa director Mohamed Adow, for whom ” at the beginning of these talks, loss and damage was not even on the agenda and now we are making history.” Along these lines, the president of the World Resources Institute (WRI), Ani Dasgupta, described the result as “a historic breakthrough.”
Environmental organizations – many of them present at the meeting in Sharm el Sheikh to closely follow the negotiations – celebrated the success of the new loss and damage fund and the story of climate justice that led the summit, but regretted the lack of ambition by some countries. From Client Earth they warned that for the states furthest behind in climate action, “litigation risks will increase with more lawsuits, not only against governments and fossil fuel companies, but also against food and agriculture, transportation, plastics and the finances”.
A palliative fund
Expectations were not high while the conference was extended two days beyond the official program -something usual in these summits- because on Saturday night the tension in the negotiations persisted and there did not seem to be a mitigation proposal firm enough to satisfy to parties demanding more climate action. Finally, the loss and damage fund obtained the green light in the plenary session, applauded by the island states, which were very involved in the dialogue so that the developed countries and the greatest historical culprits in the climate crisis, would pay for the extreme phenomena suffered to a greater extent the so-called Global South.
The special envoy of the Prime Minister of Barbados, Avinash Persaud, described the fund as “a victory for humanity” and appreciated the “strong leadership of the alliance of small island states” and the “astonishing degree of solidarity shown by the rest of the world, from the major industrialized to developed developing countries.
The EU disappointed
The final agreement disappointed the European Union and others who tried to get “strong language” adopted in the mitigation document, with an explicit request to countries to phase out the use of fossil fuels, and not just coal, as stated in the final declaration “Implementation Plan of Sharm el Sheikh”.
“To tackle climate change it is necessary that all financial flows support the transition towards low carbon emissions: the EU came here to get strong language and we are disappointed that we did not achieve it”, declared the vice-president of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, who lamented that “a lot of speed” has been lost since the Glasgow Pact due to the energy crisis caused by the war in Ukraine.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres noted that COP27 had taken “a step forward for justice”, adding that there is a “red line” that must not be crossed, referring to the 1.5 degree warming that it should not be exceeded by the end of this century, for which it is necessary to “invest massively in renewable energy” and end the “addiction to fossil fuels”. He added that the summit has had many chiaroscuro, where the word “implementation” has been repeated ad nauseam but the fight against climate change does not seem to have found the right exit from the “highway to hell” on which “we are on track”. .
The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said this Sunday that what was agreed by COP27 “marks a small step towards climate justice”, but warned that “much more is needed for the planet” because it has not complied with the commitment of the world’s main emitters to gradually reduce fossil fuels, nor with the new commitments on climate mitigation.
Arrested in protests
At least 419 people, including ten women, were arrested throughout Egypt these days, in relation to a call for protests in the context of COP27 that was to take place on November 11 and that could not be. The source of this information belongs to the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms and asked not to be identified for security reasons. And he added that the repressive campaign began in early October and, since then, more than 840 people have been detained, mainly in the metropolitan area of Cairo. Among them is a 13-year-old boy and only four of the detainees have been released, while 798 remain in police custody or in preventive detention. Among them, 38 were victims of forced disappearance, according to the source.
On the 16th, the State Security Prosecutor’s Office ordered the preventive detention of 20 people accused of “spreading false news” and “inciting violence” during COP27, charges that Egypt routinely brings against dissidents, activists and critical voices. .
Two months ago, several anonymous calls to demonstrate during COP27 emerged on social networks, given the growing discontent of the Egyptian population with the Government and the pressing economic crisis that the country is going through, marked by inflation and the devaluation of the local currency, which since March has lost almost half its value.
In response to these calls, Egyptian security forces have been stopping passers-by in Cairo and other cities to ask for their documentation and search their belongings, including mobile phones, for any content or message critical of the government of Egyptian President Abdelfatah. al Sisi.
In the balance of the summit it is necessary to count the resounding absences of Russia and China, whose presence would be necessary for a substantive agreement. That is why many key points have been kicked one year forward, until the COP 28 scheduled in Dubai for November 2023.