A deal on loss and damage, but a blow to 1.5C – what will be Cop27’s legacy? – the Guardian

At COP27 Closing Plenary, 19 November 2022 (by Kiara Worth, UNFCCC COP27, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 via Flickr).

While the EU, the US and the UK have been preoccupied with the Ukraine war, and its threats of nuclear terrorism and attendant cost of living crisis, many seem to have missed another major geopolitical change in this past year…While poor countries struggle with debt mountains, rich countries have so far failed to fulfil the promise made in 2009 to provide $100bn (£84bn) a year in climate finance by 2020.

Vaccines, debt, an energy crisis they did not cause, sharp rises in the price of food, western hypocrisy in expanding fossil fuels while calling on developing countries not to – before Cop27 started, these were already a combustible mix.

Developed countries, according to Bernice Lee, director for futures at the Chatham House thinktank, failed to understand this new dynamic, and the sense of anger that animated poor nations at Cop27. “The G7 can seem tone-deaf,” she said.

What this all meant, according to one highly placed person in the negotiations, was that when developed countries sought support for their aims on keeping 1.5C alive, they found it lacking. They said the UK, EU and others had failed to understand that the issues of loss and damage, and the 1.5C goal, were connected. “They didn’t understand that if they wanted their desires to be reflected in the text, they needed to listen to what other countries were saying, to what their demands were,” said the source. “They didn’t listen.”

The deal that was finally struck on loss and damage may provide a basis for the rich countries to better understand the concerns of the poor in future. They will have to work together on setting up the fund over the next year, and on filling it with the cash needed for the disasters countries are experiencing.

This still leaves the question of what to do about China. Developed countries as a bloc are still in the top five emitters, taking historical responsibility into account, but individually they are eclipsed by rapidly growing emerging economies, such as China, Russia, Saudi Arabia and other petrostates, according to Paul Bledsoe, a former Clinton White House climate adviser, now with the Progressive Policy Institute in Washington DC.

“This Cop was something of a failure, because it completely let the world’s biggest emitter, China, off the hook,” he said. “Global emissions can’t fall until China’s emissions fall. This is the key to climate protection.”

‘No safe place’: Kiribati seeks donors to raise islands from encroaching seas – the Guardian

A view of mangrove shoots planted by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and others on Tarawa, an atoll in the Pacific island nation of Kiribati, 2011(by Eskinder Debebe, UN Photo CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 via Flickr).

Pacific state needs billions for its ambitious plan – its president demands wealthy nations act to help now

Developing countries vulnerable to the worst ravages of global heating have spent the past week at United Nations climate talks urging more support from wealthy nations. The Pacific state of Kiribati has a very specific and unusual demand – that its islands be physically raised up to escape the encroaching seas.

Kiribati (pronounced Ki-ri-bahss, a local translation of “Gilberts”, its name under British colonial rule) is comprised of 33 coral atolls scattered across a huge expanse of ocean in the central Pacific ocean, between Hawaii and Australia. It covers more than 1.3m sq miles, making it one of the world’s largest nations when sea area is included, but is one of the smallest in terms of land, with most of its 120,000 population crammed into the narrow outcrops that make up Tarawa, its capital.

No part of Kiribati’s land rises more than two metres above the ocean, making it one of the most vulnerable places in the world to the sea level rise being driven by global heating. Several small islands have already been inundated by water, with parts of others eroded by the advancing tides. Intruding salt water threatens the ability to grow crops and risks the fresh groundwater that sits upon the porous reefs that form the basis of the islands.

How to Pay for Climate Justice When Polluters Have All the Money – the New Yorker

COP27 Closing Plenary Session 19 November 2022 (by Kiara Worth UN ClimateChange CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 via Flickr).

You can imagine the tension—the anger—that comes from watching your part of the world dry up or flood, knowing that the countries whose pollution caused your problems also have enough dollars to repair the damage…COP27 is one more reminder, however, that justice only proceeds, fitfully, through politics. Rebalancing the world’s wealth, even a little, is the trickiest of political tasks. Yet our chances for a livable world may depend on it.

Cop27: coral conservation groups alarmed over ‘catastrophic losses’ – the Guardian

The few survivor corals of the 2016 bleaching event are now facing increased per capita predation by coral-eating Crown of Thorns starfish and Drupella snails (courtesy of ARC CoE for Coral Reef Studies/ Gergely Torda CC BY-ND 2.0 via Flickr).

You don’t have to travel far from the sprawling convention center that’s staging the UN climate talks in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, to see what’s at stake. This coastal resort town is fringed by an ecosystem seemingly facing worldwide cataclysm from global heating – coral reefs.

As negotiators haggle over an agreement that may or may not maintain a goal to restrain global temperature rise to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, the nearby corals face a more brutally unyielding scenario.

Even if the 1.5C limit is kept, more than 90% of worldwide reefs will be destroyed by severe aquatic heatwaves with the more likely temperature increase of 2C, meaning all coral formations will face their doom. We face the “stark reality that there is no safe limit of global warming for coral reefs” as Adele Dixon, a researcher at University of Leeds’ School of Biology, put it after unveiling this grim research earlier this year.

A coalition of coral conservation groups have used the Cop27 summit in Egypt to express alarm over “catastrophic losses” in coral cover – half the world’s reefs are thought to have died in the past three decades – and call for radical action in a decade they call “the last chance for a turning point in favour of coral reef survival”. Governments must speed up efforts to expand marine protected areas, cut water pollution and restore corals, the coalition has demanded.