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COP27 diary (November 7): ‘World on a highway to climate hell, with our foot on the accelerator’

The 27th Conference of Parties (COP27) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, began November 7, 2022. Countries finally agreed to discuss providing financial support to address loss and damage caused by climate change at the conference. Here’s a look at what happened on the first day of COP27. 

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said loss and damage could no longer be swept under the rug. “It is a moral imperative, a fundamental question of international solidarity and climate justice,” he noted.

He also warned that the world is “on a highway to climate hell with our foot on the accelerator. Our planet is fast approaching tipping points that will make climate chaos irreversible. We need urgent climate action.”

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Africa can be the new renewable energy superpower, said Al Gore, former vice-president of the United States. “The continent has 40 per cent of the entire world’s potential for renewables. The potential for solar, wind and hydropower is 400 times larger than total fossil fuel reserves.

The dash for gas in Africa is the dash for gas to be sent to wealthy countries,” he said.


Read more: Loss and damage funding officially included in COP27 agenda


He also raised concerns about high-interest rates, which are seven times higher in Africa than in countries that are a part of the intergovernmental group Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. This is a barrier to private financing, Gore said.

“That is what the World Bank and multilateral development banks are supposed to address. We need to reform and revamp the World Bank system and make access to private capital in developing countries,” the former US VP said.

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“We need to look at ways to expand the lending available from billions to trillions,” Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley said. 

There must be a commitment to unlock concessional finance (loans provided below the market value) for climate-vulnerable countries, she highlighted.

“We heard Al Gore speak about the difference in the cost of capital to those of us in the Global South. I ask us how many more people must speak before those of us who have the capacity to instruct our directors at the World Bank and International Monetary Fund,” Mottley said.

“How many more countries must falter, particularly in a world that is now suffering from the consequence of war and inflation,” she noted, adding that countries, therefore, are finding difficulties in accessing resources needed for financing their way to Net Zero.

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France said it would not sacrifice its climate commitments despite the energy threats from Russia.

Talking about mitigation, French President Emmanuel Macron said that wealthy nations must transition their economies away from coal. “And we must help emerging economies to do so as well,” he added. 

The Just Energy Transition Partnership launched in Glasgow [CoP26] is the first step in helping developing countries, he said.

“We took the first major step with South Africa. France will invest 1 billion Euros in this effort…We will scale this up. This is what we are doing in Indonesia, India and Senegal. We must take this even further,” Macron noted.

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The United Kingdom will reduce emissions by at least 68 per cent by 2030, UK PM Rishi Sunak said. “Because there is no solution to climate change without protecting and restoring nature.

In Glasgow [CoP26], more than 140 countries, which are home to more than 90 per cent of the world’s forests, made a historic promise to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by the end of this decade,” he noted.


Read more: WMO sounds alarm as COP27 gets underway, with 1.5°C target barely within reach


November 7, the UK launched the Forests and Climate Leaders’ Partnership to “ensure a long-term delivery mechanism” for the COP26 pledge to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030. But countries with half of the world’s forests have not signed up, including Russia, Brazil, China, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Peru.

The UK is committed to providing 11.6 billion pounds (Rs 1,09357 crore) in climate finance, said Sunak. “We will triple our adaptation funding to 1.5 billion pounds by 2025,” he added.

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The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) released the Executive Action Plan of Early Warnings for All at the round table meeting November 7, 2022. Early warning systems are crucial to adapting to climate change adaptation and reducing disaster risk.

The cost of delivering early warning systems to every person on Earth would be 50 cents per day from 2022 through 2027, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said during a roundtable discussion at CoP27.

“We must invest equally in adaptation and resilience. That includes the information that allows us to anticipate storms, heatwaves, floods and droughts. To that end, I have called for every person on Earth to be protected by early warning systems within five years, with the priority to support the most vulnerable first,” said Guterres.


Read more: COP27: Global loss and damage assessment needs a major overhaul; here is why


Initial investments of $3.1 billion (Rs 25,399 crore) would be required in the four pillars of the early warning system: Disaster risk knowledge; observations and forecasting; preparedness and response; and communication of early warnings, according to the UN agency.

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Indian Union Minister Bhupendra Yadav, who was a part of the discussions, said: “With climate finance still scarce, climate adaptation in the form of early warning is key in securing lives and livelihoods. India fully supports the agenda”, he said. Yadav holds the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change portfolio. 

Follow COP27 with Down To Earth

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