COP27: A lot of noise for nothing?

Damien Glez
By Damien Glez

A French/Burkinabé artist and editorialist.

Posted on Tuesday, 22 November 2022 12:45
Image by Damien Glez

The world climate conference ended on Sunday with a historic agreement on aid to poor countries and a stalemate in the fight against global warming. Should Africa be rejoicing after the high-level meeting in Sharm El-Sheikh?

Environmentalists – even the least radical – had been sceptical about the 27th World Climate Summit, with previous conferences having been over-mediatised as they were underwhelming in terms of concrete effects. This time, however, the most proactive among them had promised the world inevitable decisions at this meeting, which was described as the “last chance” before the irreparable.

They had specifically reassured Africans that the meeting’s location in Egypt would guarantee that particular effects of climate degradation on our planet’s southern regions would be taken into account…

Climate debt and new promises

Now the lanterns are out and citizens of Africa seem “happily surprised”, as the Swiss say. Those looking at the conclusions of COP27 through an African lens point to a supposedly historic breakthrough: the 196 countries represented decided to set up a “loss and damage” fund within a year to provide financial support to developing countries.

The announcement is certainly historic, especially since the demand dates back some 30 years. It is true that the presumed beneficiaries of the future fund, who are particularly vulnerable to droughts, floods and other hurricanes, contribute relatively “little” to greenhouse gas emissions. This decision is therefore less a charitable gesture than a repayment of a “climate debt”, with the countries of the South still being called upon to proscribe the sort of polluting “development” in which others have wallowed…

Fighting the whole fire makes more sense than sprinkling a bit of water here and there…

Good news for the South, but the glass that is half-full could remain half-empty, as the so-called “developed” countries have still not kept their old promise to mobilise $100bn per year for developing countries. This commitment was made 13 years ago. For the “loss and damage” fund, some 40 countries have already committed to mobilising more than $350m. Noted.

Fossil fuels in force

Furthermore, beyond the exclusively African prism, COP27 clearly failed to significantly speed up the global fight against climate change, due to the lack of agreement on fossil fuels, even after the debates were extended by 37 hours. While it is benevolent to consider the adaptation of certain countries in relation to the damage they have suffered, wouldn’t it be more useful to tackle the causes of the scourge at the origin of said damage?

“When your neighbour’s hut is burning, sprinkle your own with water,” goes the popular saying. Fighting the fire in its entirety makes more sense than sprinkling a bit of water here and there… After Sharm El-Sheikh, Dubai will host COP28 in November 2023, which could still resemble a cha-cha-cha: one step forward, one step back…

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