Geopolitical Turmoil Sets Tone For Tense COP27

Geopolitical Turmoil Sets Tone For Tense COP27

COP27 is set to begin on November 7 in Egypt, as countries around the world remain gripped by an energy crisis and geopolitical turmoil. The war in Ukraine has made oil scarce, complicating the global consensus to cut coal and natural gas production. In Europe, former Prime Minister Boris Johnson suggested temporarily reviving coal plants and former Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi begged for additional funding for fossil fuel projects to meet the continent’s energy demands this winter.

FRANCE 24: EU energy crisis: Leaders disagree over measures to lower energy bills, October 20, 2022.

FT: American LNG exports are surging, on the back of European demand, October 20, 2022.

WION: Embracing the ‘dirty fuel’ | Russia’s gas choke sends Europe back to coal, June 24, 2022.

Europe, as well as other prolific emitters, will have to answer to poorer countries that are suffering climate impacts. Egyptian Foreign Affairs Minister Sameh Shoukry plans to prioritize ‘loss and damage’ talks to help poorer nations mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Euronews: Loss and damage | How climate reparations are pitting the North against the South, June 1, 2022.

Oxfam International: Climate loss and damage, July 20, 2022.

Robin Hood: The Global Story of Climate Change Loss and Damage | Who Should Pay For It, May 3, 2022.

Al Jazeera: Pakistan flood damage could cost the country about $40bn, October 7, 2022.

Though the US will arrive in Egypt with a piece of long-awaited climate legislation that will invest billions into curbing carbon emissions and expanding clean energy, they too will be grilled on how to address loss and damages for their historically high GHG emissions. Additionally, the climate bill has caused ripples among European economists, with French foreign minister,  Catherine Colonna, saying “it risked unfair competition”, despite reinforcing that Europe does not want a ‘green trade war.’

New York Times, November 12, 2021.  Source: Global Carbon Project·  Note: The rich, developed countries group is based on the United Nations’ Annex II definition. International transport is not counted as part of either group’s total emissions. The data reflects territory-based carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels and cement, but does not include land-use and forestry. The graphic shows emissions from countries and territories.

DW: This is just how unfair climate change is, May 21, 2021.

Carbon Brief: Will ‘loss and damage’ be the defining issue at COP27?, September 29, 2022.

Why This Matters

While COP27 will seek to create accountability for the implementation of climate pledges, many in the developing world attack the west’s push to limit the use of fossil fuels by other countries, while they have profited off them for centuries. A plan to build a new oil pipeline between Uganda and Tanzania is the latest controversy that had the EU denounce its construction, citing “environmental and climate concerns”. The Ugandan and Tanzanian governments dismissed them, arguing that their countries already use over 80% renewable energy sources and oil production would supercharge their economies. The EU intervention also comes after European leaders reopen coal-fired plants and lease new natural gas terminals because divestments from fossil fuels have not been made fast enough. COP27 will need to address the disconnect between economic development in low-emitter countries and climate targets made by wealthy Western nations.

DW: Why Germany is destroying villages for coal, October 21, 2022.

Guardian: 'Polluters must pay': UN secretary general calls for global windfall tax on energy companies, September 20, 2022.

TED: Fossil fuel companies know how to stop global warming. Why don't they? | Myles Allen, December 4, 2020.

The Climate Crisis will Exacerbate Geopolitical Instability

A growing body of research highlights climate change’s role in exacerbating geopolitical instability across the globe. Warming temperatures and extreme weather events can worsen social stress and amplify economic downturns, causing crime, conflict, and governmental failure.

Bloomberg: Climate Change 'Overtakes Pandemics as Biggest Global Concern,' January 11, 2022.

In the US, the Biden Administration is addressing the threat climate change poses to the country’s national security. Last week, the White House published the 2022 National Security Strategy, which for the first time listed climate change as a significant threat. The report emphasized the importance of achieving the Paris Agreement’s targets in order to stabilize geopolitical relations. Backtracking on climate action at COP27 could put all of this in jeopardy, dooming global stability and security, not just for countries like the US and in Europe, but particularly for poorer countries. The success of COP27 will hinge on “tangible, implementable outcomes” for climate action and reinforced commitments to financial support for countries struggling to adapt to climate change impacts.

UN: 'Pakistan is paying the price of something that was created by others' | UN Chief message, September 12, 2022.

The Newsmakers: Are rich nations responsible for Pakistan’s Floods?, September 5, 2022.

Grantham Imperial: Dr Friederike Otto speaks to BBC World News about the heatwaves, 18 July 2022.

Chatham House: Loss and damage | Where are we now and what happens next?, January 31, 2022.

International Finance Corporation: Nations such as Vanuatu are bearing the brunt of the climate crisis, April 21, 2022.

WW0 COP26 Talks: Surangel Whipps, President of the Republic of Palau, November 3, 2021.