TU/e climate scientists see silver lining and disappointments at climate summit
Heleen de Coninck and Pieter Pauw comment on results of COP27, the climate summit in Sharm-el-Sheikh.
The creation of a climate damage fund for poor countries and an official warning to commercial banks to do more about climate change: these are the bright spots during the Egyptian climate summit, according to TU/e researchers Heleen de Coninck (climate policy) and Pieter Pauw (climate finance). The two are disappointed that the gap between what countries promise and what they actually do was not reduced during COP27.
Despite the fact that the nearly 200 participating countries remain committed to a maximum of 1.5 degrees warming, the agreements to achieve this are not substantially different from those approved at the previous climate summit in Glasgow. All this while we are heading for 2.8 degrees of warming with current climate policy. "We have all lost a year," says De Coninck.
"We are now seven instead of eight years away from the deadline for halving global CO2 emissions," she continues. "It gets harder with each year that governments fall short of their climate pledges, while others such as corporations and banks apply the brakes. If countries take too little action in practice, maintaining the one-and-a-half degree is meaningless."
Victory vulnerable countries
However, the scientists - both of whom co-authored the United Nations Emissions Gap Report - do welcome the creation of a climate damage fund. This fund should support poorer countries that emit relatively little but suffer a lot from climate damage. "Developing countries have been trying for 30 years to put loss and damage caused by the effects of climate change on the agenda," Pauw stated.
Pauw: "Before the summit, this topic was not even on the agenda of the negotiations, now there is a climate damage fund. This is an important victory for vulnerable developing countries, although it remains unclear how the fund will be set up, who will support it financially and who can benefit from it." For example, it is still unclear whether a country like China will contribute to the fund. Officially listed as a developing country, meanwhile, China is the largest emitter of CO2 in absolute terms, and has roughly the same average per capita emissions as the European Union.
Both TU/e experts are pleased with a paragraph that ended up in the final chord. This paragraph warns commercial banks to take more action on climate change. Banks like ING, for example, are still the third-largest financier of polluting U.S. liquid gas plants, a Pointer broadcast revealed. "Right now, the financial sector is a barrier to the energy transition rather than facilitating it," De Coninck said.
Pauw explains: "The final document calls for a transformation of the financial system, something that Heleen and I, among others, called for in the Emissions Gap Report." Banks, pension funds and other investors should radically change their policies so that they can play a greater role in the fight against climate change, instead of financially supporting the fossil fuel industry.
Finally, the two hope that Climate and Energy Minister Rob Jetten will return home with renewed motivation to tackle the climate problem in the Netherlands. De Coninck: "I am glad he was present at the summit and hope that he now realizes more strongly that every year of delayed action, both in the Netherlands and abroad, is very costly. It damages trust between climate summit countries, and increases the likelihood of human suffering and irreparable damage to our planet."
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