Home Business As more global crises collide, nations are coming together to tackle climate change

As more global crises collide, nations are coming together to tackle climate change

by SuperiorInvest

WASHINGTON – World leaders will meet in Egypt next week to tackle climate change at a time of colliding crises: a war in Europe that has rattled energy markets, rising global inflation, deep political divisions in many countries and tensions between the world’s two biggest polluters, China and the United States states of america

The conditions do not bode well for the mission, which calls for cooperation between nations to reduce planet-warming pollution from burning oil, gas and coal.

The United States, which will participate in the United Nations meeting for the first time with a climate plan that is backed by the force of lawwill try to reassert itself as a leader in the fight to keep temperatures from rising to catastrophic levels.

The new law, which provides a record $370 billion to accelerate the country’s transition away from fossil fuels, “absolutely” strengthens the position of the United States and its ability to urge other countries to follow suit, said John Kerry, President Biden’s special envoy. for climate change. “We were at rock bottom in terms of our credibility, and if we didn’t deliver there, I think we would be in serious trouble.”

But while the legislation can repair America’s tarnished reputation after President Donald J. Trump climate action stopped more is needed for many years to meet its commitments under the 2015 Paris Agreement to limit global warming.

And the bill barely squeaked through a bitterly divided Congress. If Republicans regain control of at least one chamber in midterm elections on Tuesday, they are expected to try to slow efforts to cut emissions. And the 2024 presidential election looms, with Mr. Trump considering another run.

“It’s understandable that people are going to ask questions, given that the United States has taken a step forward and a step back in the past,” said Manish Bapna, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group. “People would like to be assured that this time there will be no retreat with this step forward.”

As the climate summit known as COP27 convenes in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheikh, the consequences of climate change are painfully obvious.

More than 1,500 people have died in Pakistan this summer in catastrophic floods, and another five million people there are now facing severe food shortages. The worst drought in 40 years has left 22 million people in the Horn of Africa on the brink of famine. Hurricane Ian is estimated to have caused more than $60 billion in insured losses in the United States when it hit Florida last month, making it one of the costliest storms on record. Scientists have linked climate change to each of these devastating events.

At last year’s climate summit in Glasgow, when world leaders were likely to be less distracted by other crises, countries pledged to strengthen the Paris Agreement and prevent global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, from pre-industrial levels. This is the threshold beyond which, according to scientists, the probability of catastrophic climate impacts increases significantly. Nearly 200 countries have agreed to step up their efforts ahead of the start of COP27 next week.

But only a handful of major polluters have stepped up and pledged more ambitious measures, with China, Russia and Saudi Arabia among the main drivers. The planet has already warmed by an average of 1.1 degrees Celsius and is on track to warm by 2.5 degrees Celsius, or 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit, by the end of this century. according to a new United Nations report.

At the same time, the war in Ukraine and the subsequent boycott of Russian gas complicated the immediate transition away from fossil fuels. Demand for coal is increasing in many countries, and some are reopening dormant coal-fired power plants. The British government has issued new licenses to drill for oil in the North Sea, while China and India continue to burn coal. In the United States, where high gas prices have created a political problem for Democrats, President Biden tried unsuccessfully to get Saudi Arabia to increase oil production to ease the pain at the pump.

“It’s a very challenging year,” said Jennifer Morgan, Germany’s climate envoy. “The impacts are hitting so hard and so fast and it’s clear that the emissions are not going in the right direction and no one is prepared for the impacts.”

The International Energy Agency recently offered a glimmer of hope when it predicted for the first time that global demand for all types of fossil fuels will peak in the near future. One key reason is that many countries have responded to soaring fossil fuel prices this year by embracing wind, solar and nuclear power, the agency said.

Yet much of climate progress depends on China, which now pumps the most greenhouse gases into the atmosphere of any country — an output that is not expected to peak for several years.

Mr Kerry emerged from the Glasgow summit with his Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua to make the announcement both countries will cooperate reduce fossil fuel pollution this decade. Mr Kerry and Mr Xie have known each other for more than 20 years, and in Glasgow they started conversations about methane and coal by catching up with their gardens and grandchildren.

A year later, there is distance between the two men as relations between the United States and China have sunk to their lowest point in a decade amid economic competition, tensions over Taiwan and disagreements over Russia’s war in Ukraine. China suspended climate talks with the Biden administration after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi traveled to Taiwan in early August over Chinese objections.

“We’ve had several messages to figure out how to proceed,” Mr. Kerry said, referring to Mr. Xie. But the decision to do so will be made by one person, President Xi Jinping, he said.

Mr Kerry said he hoped to resume discussions once he and Mr Xie met again in person in Sharm el Sheikh, noting the stakes were huge. “We cannot solve this problem unless all the major economies join Paris, especially the biggest emitters,” he said.

But domestic politics in the United States may impede Mr. Biden’s climate leadership abroad. If Republicans gain control of one or both houses of Congress, they are unlikely to reverse the new climate law, known as the Deflation Act. But efforts are already underway, backed by fossil fuel industry associations undermines legislation. And Republicans are vowing to block new environmental regulations and investigate the administration’s climate policies.

President Biden has promised to reduce the United States’ emissions by at least 50 percent below 2005 levels by the end of this decade, and that the country will stop adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere by 2050. The new climate law is expected to help cut US emissions by up to 40 percent, according to several analyses.

“It’s all pretty important to recognize that there’s a huge amount of work ahead of us so countries that are already affected by climate change don’t see us running around patting ourselves on the back,” said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. A Democrat from Rhode Island who plans to attend COP27.

Another area where the US is lagging behind is financial aid to developing countries suffering from the effects of climate change.

Rich countries have failed to meet a decade-old pledge to provide $100 billion a year by 2020 to help developing countries transition to clean energy and adapt to climate change. States have also failed to meet the Glasgow pledge to “at least double” funding for adaptation by 2025.

Congress has appropriated this year $1 billion in climate aid. That’s less than half of what the White House requested and far beyond The $11.4 billion that Mr. Biden promised delivered every year until 2024.

“The message that was sent was that we weren’t very serious about the commitments we made,” Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon, said of the reduced congressional appropriations bill.

A related issue, known in climate talk as loss and damage, will also be a major focus this year.

Developing countries, led by Pakistan, are expected to take a dramatic stand and demand an agreement on a new fund to help offset climate disasters in countries that have caused the least global warming.

“Climate change has really hit countries like Pakistan and we don’t have the luxury of time now,” said Malik Amin Aslam, Pakistan’s former environment minister, said in an interview. As he said in early October, 13 million people in his country were still in temporary shelters driven out by deadly floods.

The United States and other wealthy and long-term polluters are resisting efforts to pay for extreme weather events that are becoming more frequent and destructive.

In Glasgow, the American delegation scuttled any discussion of creating a loss and damage fund. But recently, the United States has shifted somewhat. Mr Kerry said in a recent interview that he was open to creating a new fund and nations agreed to discuss it at COP27, a move that could avert an agenda battle at the start of the summit.

Whatever happens in the negotiations in Egypt, there is no denying that segments of the world economy are moving towards renewable energy. Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, said money is “flying” for clean energy thanks to the new law in the United States, and he predicted it would eventually quell any tensions in the boardroom.

“No one is waiting to see if the announcements at the COP will turn out exactly as diplomats hope,” Mr. Schatz said. “Everyone is starting to understand that there is an extraordinary amount of money to be made to save the planet and that betting the future against what the markets are saying and what the United States is committed to is not a smart bet.”

It was announced by companies in the United States $28 billion investment in clean energy generation since Mr. Biden signed climate legislation into law.

Speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations this month, Mr Kerry insisted markets were moving away from fossil fuels. But he said he was worried.

“We’re going to get to a low-carbon, zero-carbon economy,” Mr Kerry said. “That’s a decision the market has made as well,” Mr. Kerry said. “I’m not convinced we’ll meet the scientists’ challenge in time.”

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