Detente and frustration at a dead end


About 34,000 participants traveled to the Red Sea to attend the World Climate Conference. Photo: Christophe Gatto/Dr © Christophe Gatto/Dr

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Historic breakthrough, but also frustration over deadlock: Egypt’s two-week climate conference made only real progress in combating the impending climate meltdown in terms of financial aid to poor countries. On the other hand, nearly 200 countries have made no progress on urgently needed reductions in climate-damaging greenhouse gases – only ancient decisions were underlined in Sharm el-Sheikh. Not only environmental organizations have expressed their disappointment, but also the EU Commission and the Federal Government.

Only after nearly 40 hours of overtime did the final hammer fall in the early morning of the meeting, which was attended by some 34,000 participants. Specifically, it was decided:

New Climate Damage Fund

After decades of discussions, the Climate Conference has for the first time agreed on a common amount of money to compensate for climate damage in poor countries. The new Parity Fund aims to mitigate the inevitable consequences of global warming – such as increasingly frequent droughts, floods and storms, as well as rising sea levels and desertification. Particularly vulnerable developing countries should be favored. Development organization Care spoke of a “historic step,” but complained that key questions would not be resolved until 2023. So no amounts were called. It is also not clear who has to pay. “These include the largest emitters, the United States of America, China and, of course, the European Union,” wrote Development Minister Svenja Scholz (SPD).

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Goodbye coal, but not oil and gas

Countries reaffirmed their decision in Glasgow last year to phase out coal. However, there is no mention of bidding farewell to oil and gas – something which has been advocated by a number of countries, including India, the European Union and the USA. But few countries put up “fierce resistance,” said Foreign Minister Annalina Berbock. That was “more than frustrating”. Nor was the European Union’s demand that greenhouse gas emissions peak worldwide by 2025. Martin Kaiser, head of Germany’s Greenpeace organization, called it scandalous that the leadership of the Egyptian conference had offered oil-producing countries such as Saudi Arabia space “to blow up any effective climate protection.” “. Jan Quelzig, an expert at Oxfam, spoke of a “disappointing result”.

Boost for renewable energies?

For the first time, the demand for expansion of renewable energies can also be found in the climate conference final document. But since the future mix also talks about “low-emissions” energy sources, MEP Michael Ploss (Greens) fears this will be misused as a “gateway to nuclear and gas.”

Vague target 100 billion

$100 billion for climate protection and adaptation – that’s how much industrialized nations should already be paying poor nations every year since 2020. So far, they’re largely owed money. However, the final declaration lacks a clear plan on if and when additional payments must be made. The difference is in the new fund: 100 billion inflows for modification that is still possible, and the fund aims to compensate for the damage done.

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Also missing is the roadmap’s mandate – still included in early drafts – about how and when rich countries will double their climate change adaptation aid to poor countries – from about $20 to $40 billion currently.

Climate protection plans must be improved – but only on a voluntary basis

In the final paper, countries are also asked to improve their grossly inadequate climate protection plans by the next climate conference at the latest. This will take place in the United Arab Emirates at the end of 2023. The improvements remain voluntary, there is no obligation.

In 2015, the international community agreed in Paris to limit the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees compared to pre-industrial times. The world has now warmed by 1.1°C, and Germany even more so. According to scientific warnings, exceeding the 1.5 degree mark significantly increases the risk of triggering so-called overturning elements in the climate system and thus uncontrollable chain reactions.

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