The Sharm el-Sheikh climate summit is in the shadow of war and tension


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  • Helen Ekker

    Climate and Energy editor

  • Helen Ekker

    Climate and Energy editor

In a year of extreme heatwaves, forest fires and floods, another global climate conference begins today. In Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt, representatives from nearly two hundred countries will discuss limiting global warming over the next two weeks.

Expectations are not high so far. Not only for the war in Ukraine, which diverts attention from the climate, but also for the conflict between the US and China over Taiwan. At the same time, it is becoming increasingly clear how urgent the problem is. For example, Pakistan is still grappling with the aftermath of devastating floods, and this summer has never been hotter in China, the country with the highest CO2 emissions, since measurements began.

Five questions on the climate summit in Egypt:

1. What are the main topics in Sharm El Sheikh?

The world is not yet on track to limit global warming to no less than 1.5 degrees from the pre-industrial era. The earth has already warmed by more than one degree. from a recent report It turns out that all the climatic promises added together translate into a rise in temperature of 2.4 to 2.6 degrees. That’s why there are sure to be conversations about how that 1.5-degree goal is more within reach.

2. Who is coming?

Delegations from all over the world will arrive in Sharm el-Sheikh in the next two weeks, with the participation of nearly two hundred countries. There will also be many heads of state and government. Among them are US President Biden, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, incoming Brazilian President Lula, French President Macron and the new British Prime Minister Sunak. Prime Minister Rutte and five other ministers travel to Egypt from the Netherlands.

3. What are the bottlenecks?

The main talking points this time around are about money. Rich countries have not maintained committed to making $ 100 billion a year available to poor countries from 2020 onwards. Even the poorest and most vulnerable countries will need to green their energy supplies and also adapt to climate change.

Spicy is another topic that may be officially on the agenda for the first time: ‘damage and loss’ (referred to in English as loss and damage). Poor countries and low-lying islands fear that extreme weather conditions due to climate change will cost more and more and believe rich countries should help pay for the damage. Rich countries have pushed this issue off the table so far, but the recognition that this can no longer be done is gaining ground.

Egypt made this video and wants to stand out as a champion of an equitable distribution of the costs of climate change:

4. What impact do the war in Ukraine and other tensions have in the world?

One thing is certain: the world now looks very different than it did a year ago at the previous Glasgow climate summit. Russia invaded Ukraine, energy prices have skyrocketed since then and countries are looking for alternatives to Russian gas and oil. In the Netherlands and other countries, coal is (temporarily) used again in abundance, which leads to higher CO2 emissions. On the other hand, efforts are being made to make buildings and businesses more sustainable faster.

Read more:  The British Prime Minister commends the successful and illustrious organization of the climate summit in Sharm El-Sheikh

Another problem that could cast a shadow over the top is the strained relationship between the two largest emitters, China and the United States. The question is whether the Taiwan disagreement will impact climate negotiations, or whether both countries can keep this dispute out of the way because they both want to solve the climate problem.

5. When is the climate summit a success?

Many participants take the approach of loss and damage seen as crucial. It is so important to many poorer countries that it should at least start a serious discussion. Many rich countries now want it too, but they also hesitate because no one knows exactly how much money that might be in the future. It will also be more emphasized on the agenda than before that countries need to adapt and prepare for extreme weather conditions.

Finally, it is important that global warming is limited to 1.5 degrees. But to do this, the beautiful promises must be quickly and completely translated into action, otherwise that goal will soon be out of action.

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