Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Russia’s war will be the greatest test of goodwill at COP27

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The 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP27) will take place from November 7 to 18, 2022 in Sharm el-Sheikh of Egypt.

This important event, like many others before it, will bring together representatives from nearly 200 countries. They will hold several meetings to advance action plans on tackling climate change.

The event is one that builds on the Paris Agreement adopted in 2015 by world leaders to work together to limit global warming to well below 2°C, to adapt to the impacts of changing climate and to make money available to deliver on these aims.

Under the Paris Agreement, countries have committed to bringing forward national plans setting out how much they would reduce their emissions. This is known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC). These plans are updated every five years, reflecting the highest possible ambition at that time. The most recent update occurred at COP26 in Glasgow last year.

Gripped by the turbulence that came with the COVID-19 pandemic, many nations admitted that a lax attitude can no longer be tolerated; greater commitments were needed to bring global warming to 1.5°.

COP26 also ended with a call for countries to put forward revised NDCs within the year at, or before COP27, thereby adding another ‘tooth’ to efforts ahead of the next agreed revision in 2025.

In a matter of weeks, COP27 will roll out an agenda for a just and managed transition to a more sustainable world economy to ensure no one is left behind. It will also outline how the world intends to pay for the estimated US$125 trillion bill to tackle climate change by 2050 as stated by the International Energy Agency.

Furthermore, His Excellency, Sameh Shoukry, Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs and COP27 President-Designate has said the aim is to make COP27 an “implementation COP” by urging action across prior agreements through all areas of climate change needs.

The President-Designate at a recent press conference said: “…There can be no room for delay in the fulfilment of climate pledges or backtracking on hard-earned gains in the global fight against climate change. We must work together for implementation. We need to act, and act now, to save lives and livelihoods.”

COP27 is therefore offering a rare opportunity for parties and observers to come together and reassess their positions as all and sundry grapple with a challenge that is impacting all of humanity.

COP27 will no doubt be extremely unique at this point in its history. The conversation takes place when the world is hard hit by another unprecedented circumstance—the Russia-Ukraine war.

Russia’s nine-month-long invasion of Ukraine has reshaped the way many countries think of their climate change goals, with European nations now scrambling for oil and gas supplies wherever they can find it. The war has also had far-reaching implications for the way leaders think about the urgency for food security as prices soar. Naysayers can no longer oppose, in all good conscience, the important role natural gas has and must play in the transition to renewable sources.

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There is also grave concern about how tensions within the Group of 20 (G20) will affect commitments at COP27. Importantly, members such as USA, Canada, The UK, and the EU, have condemned Russia’s move in February to invade Ukraine. Such staunch condemnation at the United Nations (UN) Security Council meeting back in July 2022 saw Russian foreign minister Sergei walking out as he said, “There is nothing to talk about with the West.” International media reports have already stated that Russia’s Leader, Vladmir Putin, will not be attending COP27 as he expects no significant breakthrough.

The tensions within G20 have also been further complicated by OPEC+’s decision to cut production output with effect from November, thereby leaving oil prices high. That decision was led by Russia and Saudi Arabia and later condemned by the USA.

Now more than ever, the goodwill among these critical parties that are responsible for 80% of the world’s emissions is under unprecedented strain.

This could have consequences for a key area of frustration of Small Island Developing States (SIDs) which feel the brunt of climate change and that pertains to the promise for US$100 billion to help with adaptation. That was supposed to start in 2020 and end in 2025 but is yet to be honoured.

There are also concerns about the impact of this latest geopolitical crisis on other targets set by COP26. These include accelerating the phase-out of coal, speeding up the switch to electric vehicles, and encouraging greater investment in renewables. Evidently, energy security and independence will be on equal footing with discussions on climate mitigation at COP27. This conference is therefore poised to be the greatest test of goodwill among global powerhouses.

Next week, OilNOW will examine Guyana’s frame of mind, going into COP27.

About Energy Insights

From the people who bring you day-to-day coverage through OilNOW – the Caribbean’s premier oil, gas and energy information service – the Energy Insights column offers perspectives and analyses on the evolving energy sector in the South American/Caribbean region, and further afield.

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