Home USA News A world in crisis is a bleak backdrop for UN climate talks

A world in crisis is a bleak backdrop for UN climate talks


SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt (AP) — Envoys from around the world gathered in the Egyptian seaside resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on Sunday for talks on combating climate change amid a host of competing crises, including the war in Ukraine, high inflation, food shortage and energy crisis.

Negotiators spent a frantic two days ahead of the meeting debating whether to formally address loss and damage or compensation for vulnerable countries affected by climate change. The issue, which has hampered negotiations for years, was agreed upon a few hours before the official opening of the meeting.

In his introductory speech, the head of the UN climate group emphasized the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the consequences of global warming.

“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to save our planet and our livelihoods,” said Hoesung Lee, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The outgoing chief negotiator, British official Alok Sharma, said the countries had made significant progress at their last meeting in Glasgow, including setting more ambitious emissions reduction targets, finalizing the rules of the 2015 Paris Agreement and pledging to start phasing out emissions. the use of coal, the most polluting fossil fuel.

“We’ve withstood 1.5 degrees (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit),” he said, referring to the Paris Pact’s most ambitious goal of keeping the rise in temperatures since pre-industrial times below that threshold.

However, the effort now “faces global headwinds,” he warned.

“(Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s brutal and illegal war in Ukraine has led to multiple global crises, energy and food security, inflationary pressures and rising debt,” Sharma said. “These crises have compounded existing climate vulnerabilities and pandemic impacts.”

However, even the most optimistic scenarios, which assume that countries follow through on everything they have promised, would set the world on a course of 1.7 C (3.1 F) of warming, he warned.

“As difficult as our current moment is, inaction is short-sighted and can only delay climate catastrophe,” Sharma said. “We have to find the ability to focus on more than one thing at a time.”

“How many more world leaders does the world really need,” he said, citing recent devastating floods in Pakistan and Nigeria and historic droughts in Europe, the United States and China.

His successor, Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, said his department would “spare no effort” to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi wrote on Twitter that Egypt, as a host country, aims to move from “the phase of promises to the phase of implantation with concrete measures on the ground”.

The chief representative of the UN on climate also called on the countries to constructively participate in the negotiations and to take the necessary measures at home.

“Here in Sharm el-Sheikh, we have a responsibility to accelerate our international efforts to turn words into action,” he said, adding that “every corner of human activity must meet our Paris commitments and continue our efforts to limit the increase in temperature.” to 1.5 degrees”.

More than 40,000 participants have registered to attend this year’s talks, reflecting a sense of urgency as major weather events around the world affect many people and cost billions of dollars in repairs. Egypt said more than 120 world leaders would attend, many of them speaking at a high-level event on November 7-8, while US President Joe Biden is due to arrive later this week.

But many dignitaries, including Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, did not plan to attend, casting doubt on whether talks in Egypt could lead to any major deals to cut emissions without the world’s two biggest polluters .

Rights groups criticized Egypt on Sunday for limiting protests and increasing surveillance during the summit.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch, citing Egyptian media, reported that the authorities had also arrested dozens of people for calling for protests.

“It is becoming clear that the Egyptian government has no intention of relaxing its tight security measures and allowing freedom of speech and assembly,” Adam Kugle, the group’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, said in a statement.

Human Rights Watch said it has joined about 1,400 groups from around the world calling on Egypt to lift restrictions on civil society groups.

Alaa Abdel-Fattah, a prominent imprisoned pro-democracy activist from Egypt, went on hunger strike on Sunday on the first day of COP27, according to his family. Abdel-Fattah’s aunt, the Ahdaf Sueif prize-winning novelist, said he went on a “complete hunger strike” and stopped drinking water at 10am local time. Concerned that he might die without water, she urged authorities to release him in response to local and international calls.


Associated Press writers Sam Magdy and Seth Borenstein contributed to this report.

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