North-South solidarity, funding, debates on 1,5°C, methane: what to remember from COP27


After tough negotiations, the countries meeting at the climate conference in Sharm el-Sheikh (November 6-18, 2022) reached an agreement on the issue of climate financing, via the creation of a fund "for loss and damage ".

In his final decision, COP27 thus opens up the prospect of expanding financial transfers from rich countries to less advanced countries.

In the absence of such transfers, there is no workable path to 1,5°C, the ultimate target introduced by the Paris Agreement.

With this question of financing at the center of the negotiations, the COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh promised a standoff between the North and the South. It did not thwart the forecasts and Africa, strongly represented (with 2,3 times more delegates than in 2021), gave voice to it.

This polarization of debates between rich and less advanced countries should not, however, make us forget the crucial role of emerging countries (China, India, Brazil, Indonesia, etc.) in confronting global warming. This group of countries controls more than 60% of global emissions of greenhouse gases.

It is on him that the decrease in these emissions depends in the first place.

Graph showing greenhouse gas emissions according to groups of countries (least developed, emerging, developed)Dynamics of greenhouse gas emissions according to the economic situation of the countries.
PBL data , Author provided

Climate finance, a dispute with multiple causes

At the instigation of the United States, the developed countries promised in 2009 to transfer at least 100 billion dollars per year from 2020 to developing countries for the mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

In 2015, the promise was enshrined in the Paris Agreement. In 2020, the account was not there (83 billion according to theOECD). And it shouldn't be before 2023, according to the Climate Finance Delivery Plan.

A second bone of contention concerns the interpretation of Article 8 of the Paris Agreement on the concerted approach to "loss and damage" caused by global warming. The less developed or island countries, heavily impacted, claim transfers under what they call the “climate debt” of the rich countries, coming up against a front of refusal so far.

Less advanced countries do not have access to the sometimes substantial financing that certain emerging countries can obtain for the conversion of their energy infrastructures. South Africa and Indonesia, for example, respectively obtained $8,5 and $20 billion to accelerate the exit from coal within the framework of partnerships with developed countries.

Litigation is finally fueled by the recent worsening of fuel poverty and food insecurity in the world.

The year 2022 risks being the year of the first decline in several decades in the number of people with access to electricity. Today, the war in Ukraine combines with the recurrence of climatic shocks to increase the cost of basic foodstuffs which are becoming inaccessible to the poorest and are dramatically increasing the hunger in the world, erasing several decades of progress.

The expansion of funding

Hard won during the last two days of the conference, the final decision of COP27 will expand climate finance in three main ways.

First, COP27 endorsed the principle of a mechanism dedicated to the financing of loss and damage. It is a victory, imposed by the less developed countries and the island States which have broken the united front of the rich countries. It was facilitated by the mediation of the European Union, which is more open than the United States on the issue.

It remains to negotiate the details of the system, in particular the scope of donors (positioning of emerging countries?) and the rules governing access to this new financing.

Secondly, the countries have agreed to increase traditional climate financing, particularly that for adaptation, with an emphasis on agriculture to deal with food insecurity. This additional financing should make it possible to exceed the 100 billion promised in 2009.

Thirdly, the two mechanisms of article 6 on the carbon markets constitute a third source of financing. That concerning the States (article 6.2) can already be used, countries such as Japan and Switzerland being ready to finance emission reductions in other countries through this means.

It will be necessary to wait until 2024 for private actors to be able to access this type of market (article 6.4), which will facilitate the mobilization of private capital without which there can be no change in the scale of international climate financing.

Other levers were mentioned without a consensus allowing them to be included in the decisions of the COP. The most powerful would be the creation of a dedicated resource, based on the taxation of fossil fuels, or better still, that of CO emissions2.

The bad 1,5°C debate

The inclusion of the objective of limiting global warming to 1,5°C relative to the pre-industrial era was a victory for the least developed countries and small island states which, in 2015 at COP21, made it a condition of their adherence to the Paris Agreement.

The cover of the magazineThe cover of the British magazine for the opening of COP27.
The Economist,

Paradoxically, the 1,5°C issue once again became a subject of debate when these countries obtained a second victory in the negotiations. According to some, 1,5°C would be unrealistic, according to the scientists themselves. A point to clarify.

In all climate scenarios analyzed in the 6e IPCC report published in 2021-2022, we reach a warming of 1,5°C within one to two decades, to then be slightly exceeded. In no way does this mean that the 1,5°C target is unattainable. On the other hand, this implies prolonging emission reductions once climate neutrality has been reached, to switch to a negative emissions regime and then bring down the rise in the thermometer to 1,5°C.

This bad debate on 1,5°C has polluted discussions on mitigation actions. Despite the announcement of some countries in Sharm el-Sheikh, COP27 did not bring any new impetus to accelerate the reduction of emissions.

Initiate the decline in global emissions

If new funding is available, the deployment of carbon-free energy sources in less developed countries will be able to accelerate, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa where investments in renewables dropped out two years ago.

We will then be in the scenario where all the conditional commitments made by the countries can be fulfilled. According to the General Secretariat of the COP, this would lead to exceeding the peak of emissions during the decade to reduce them in 2030 to 3% below those of 2019 (whereas it would be necessary to aim for -43% in the worst scenarios). ambitious).

The additional commitments announced during the conference, in particular the passage of the European Union from 55 to 57%, do not fundamentally change the situation.

The key to accelerating the decline in global emissions by 2030 is held by emerging countries, which tend to be overlooked when discussing the sharing of responsibilities between North and South. More than 60% of global emissions are controlled by this group of countries, which no longer belong to the least developed countries without having joined the club of rich countries.

However, these countries have generally not aligned their medium-term objectives with the neutrality target that they set for the long term. As soon as they do, the decline in global emissions will gain much faster momentum.

Graph showing the neutrality goals of EU, China, USA, India, Indonesia and JapanEmission trajectories by 2030 are not always in line with the neutrality target.
Author, Author provided

The challenges of action on methane

For the first anniversary of the initiative launched jointly by the United States and the European Union at the Glasgow COP (2021) to reduce methane emissions by at least 30% by 2030, the signals are mixed.

Le United Nations Environment Program will deploy a device for real-time detection of methane releases, identification of sources and monitoring of corrective actions. Centered at the start on large energy installations, the system must extend to all emissions, including those from agriculture. The United States simultaneously announced a strengthening of its internal regulation, which is a step in the right direction.

There is an urgent need to act on methane emissions. The World Meteorological Office alert on the unprecedented acceleration of the growth of the stock of methane in the atmosphere in 2020 and 2021.

This acceleration could come from a climatic feedback, with warmer and humid temperatures amplifying anaerobic fermentation in wetlands and rice fields. If this is the case, the risk is that the continued increase in the stock of methane thwarts the effects of the drop in COXNUMX emissions.2 and delays the prospect of climate neutrality.

What to expect from the next climate meetings?

While COP27 did not bring about radical changes, it removed a major obstacle to accelerating climate action by defusing the disputes that were accumulating over funding.

During the next two years, the first five-year review of the Paris Agreement will be carried out. This is a decisive step for the construction of a monitoring and reporting system which is still too incomplete.

The next meeting in 2024 in the United Arab Emirates, located a short distance east of Sharm el-Sheikh, will be an excellent opportunity to assess the pace at which the withdrawal of fossil fuels must take place to reach a trajectory of 1,5°C. A major unknown on this horizon concerns the evolution of the war in Ukraine, which has boosted investments in the extraction and transport of gas of fossil origin in the short term.

The meeting of 2025 could be in the Amazon, at the invitation of Lula, newly elected head of Brazil, who has displayed the ambition of zero deforestation while maintaining intact the food production potential of his country. . Such a meeting would make it possible to give all its place to agriculture and forestry and to better link the climate issue to that of the protection of biodiversity.

Christian from Perthuis, Professor of economics, founder of the “Climate economics” chair, Paris Dauphine University - PSL

This article is republished from The Conversation under Creative Commons license. Read theoriginal article.

Image credit: Shutterstock/ Rafapress

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