The Latest | UN Climate Summit
Nov 14, 2022, 11:30 AM | Updated: Nov 15, 2022, 1:01 pm
(AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt (AP) — The Latest on COP27, the United Nations climate summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.
Brazil, South Africa, India and China have voiced their opposition to plans for climate-related tariffs such as those currently being discussed by the European Union.
The 27-nation EU is proposing a ‘carbon border adjustment mechanism’ that would place tariffs on goods from countries whose efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are considered insufficient. The proposal is intended to prevent European manufacturers from being at a disadvantage compared to foreign rivals who don’t face similar climate rules as those in the EU.
The group, known by the acronym BASIC, issued a joint statement at the U.N. climate talks Tuesday saying that “unilateral measures and discriminatory practices, such as carbon border taxes, that could result in market distortion and aggravate the trust deficit amongst parties, must be avoided.”
They called on other developing countries to join in opposing “any unfair shifting of responsibilities from developed to developing countries.”
China pushed back against statements of support by some countries for Taiwan, a self-governing island that Beijing claims as its own territory.
“China has noted a handful of countries have, during this session, ignored the fact that Taiwan is an indelible part of China and made noises to get the Taiwan regime to participate in the COP,” said a Chinese delegate, who was not introduced by name and did not identify herself. “This is not acceptable because there is only one China in the world and Taiwan is an integral part of China.”
China got a “right of reply” at the end of a day of speeches by climate and environment ministers at the United Nations summit.
Taiwan and China split in 1949 following a civil war that ended with the Communist Party in control of the mainland. The island never has been part of the People’s Republic of China, but Beijing says it is obliged to unite with the mainland, by force if necessary.
Earlier, some nations mentioned Taiwan in their speeches. John Silk, the Marshall Islands’ natural resources minister, said, “The exclusion of Taiwan from this process when the people of that nation are as much at risk as we all are in the face of climate change is unconscionable, unacceptable.”
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About a dozen demonstrators protested Russia’s invasion of Ukraine at the start of an event hosted by the Russian delegation at the U.N. climate conference.
The mostly young protesters in the audience Tuesday rose individually to shout their objections to the war in Ukraine, with some accusing the panelists of being “war criminals.”
They were swiftly escorted out of the room by U.N. security at the talks in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.
Several European delegates walked out of the room as Russia’s representative took the floor at this year’s U.N. climate conference.
Four officials, one of them wearing an outfit in the blue and yellow colors of the Ukrainian flag, left the plenary hall Tuesday as Russian climate envoy Ruslan Edelgeriev took the podium. There was nobody at the U.S. delegation table during the incident.
Russia has been largely shunned by other European countries in international forums after its invasion of Ukraine.
Edelgeriev said Russia was committed to tackling climate change and criticized countries he said were taking unilateral measures in breach of existing agreements, without elaborating. Russia strongly objects to European Union plans to impose a carbon tax on imports that would hurt its exports.
The climate change minister of Nauru has lambasted wealthy advanced countries for doing little to help his Pacific nation deal with climate change, underscoring the anger and cynicism among poor countries at the COP27 meeting in Egypt.
“We have placed our full trust in Western experts who have pushed false solutions and urge us to compromise for the good of the process. We have allowed ourselves to become props in environmental campaigns,” Rennier Gadabu said, in one of the more powerful speeches to delegates Tuesday.
“The decision makers, those with real powers, simply do not care,” Gadabu said. “They do not care about the communities that will be displaced and destroyed. They do not care about the food and water shortages that ravage poor countries. All they care about is power, pure and simple.”
A Somali official called for G-20 leaders gathering in Bali in Indonesia and those negotiating in the U.N. climate conference in Egypt to prioritize climate financing for vulnerable countries.
Mohamed Osman Mahmoud, an economic advisor to the Somali president, said Tuesday that world leaders should address the issue of loss and damage payments for countries vulnerable to climate change “as soon as possible.”
He called for financing mechanisms to help heavily indebted poorer countries, like Somalia.
“Loss and damage isn’t a taboo to be talked about. It has to be addressed,” he said on the sidelines of the U.N. climate conference.
Mahmoud said Somalia, which is suffering from a prolonged drought, needs $55.5 billion in investment and assistance in the next 10 years to be able to recover from climate-related devastation.
“Somalia is paying the price already,” he said. “We have received so far nothing and in total Africa has received less.”
India’s environment minister highlighted the country’s efforts in areas like renewable energy and green hydrogen and its leading role in a global solar power group in an address to ministers at the U.N. climate summit on Tuesday.
“This is the testimony of our ethos of collective action for global good,” said Bhupender Yadav. “India, home to 1.3 billion people, is undertaking our various efforts despite the reality that our contribution to the world’s cumulative emissions so far is less than 4% and our annual per capita emission are about one third of the global average.”
India’s emissions are historically low but it is now one of the world’s largest polluters, althoughits per capita emissions remain low.
The ambassador of Antigua and Barbuda to the U.N. told ministers Tuesday that the island nation won’t leave the summit without a fund for climate-related loss and damage caused in large part by industrialized nations to developing ones.
“As we see the inaction of many developed countries the potential to stall talks and land a devastating blow for us as small island developing states is looming,” Conrod Hunte said in an address. “Antigua and Barbuda will not leave here without a loss and damage fund.”
Hunte slammed developed nations for continuing to use and even ramp up fossil fuels.
“The system is being gamed at our expense as small island developing states and the expense of future generations,” he said.
The European Union announced Tuesday that it is raising its target for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, albeit only slightly.
The 27-nation bloc’s top climate official told delegates at a U.N. climate meeting in Egypt that the EU will increase its target for reducing emissions by 2030 to 57%, from 55% previously, compared with 1990 levels.
Frans Timmermans said that the increase showed the EU was not backtracking on its commitments due to the energy crisis resulting from the war in Europe.
“Europe is staying the course,” he said. “Actually, we’re even accelerating.”
Environmental groups called the EU’s increased target “breadcrumbs,” saying the EU’s fair share should be cuts of at least 65% by 2030.
“This small increase announced today at COP27 doesn’t do justice to the calls from the most vulnerable countries at the frontlines. If the EU, with a heavy history of emitting greenhouse gases, doesn’t lead on mitigating climate change, who will?” said Chiara Martinelli of Climate Action Network Europe.
The prime minister of Samoa appealed Tuesday to countries gathered at the U.N. climate talks in Egypt to respond as strongly to the threat of global warming as they did to the coronavirus pandemic.
Fiame Naomi Mata’afa said Samoa and other Pacific states are “at the mercy of climate change and our survival hangs in the rush of the climate hourglass.” She praised those major emitters who have made commitments to sharply cut their greenhouse gas emissions, but said those are still too few.
“Why is it not possible to apply the same level of urgency of action witnessed for the COVID-19 pandemic to the meeting of the 1.5-degree Celsius promise?” she asked, referring to the warming temperature limit set in the Paris agreement to limit the effects of climate change.
She also called for more financial support to vulnerable countries, including the creation of a dedicated fund for ‘loss and damage’ suffered as a result of climate change, noting that failure to keep past funding promises had caused distrust among nations.
“We cannot afford the further erosion of trust between the developed and developing countries,” she said.
Germany announced that it is providing more than half a billion euros (dollars) to two funds that will foster the expansion of hydrogen projects.
Hydrogen gas, if produced through renewable energy, is seen as a low-carbon alternative substitute for natural gas in high-energy industries such as steel-making.
Germany, which has scrambled to replace imports of Russian natural gas following the invasion of Ukraine, says it wants to shift to hydrogen use in the medium term.
Germany’s Development Minister said Tuesday that “many developing countries have ideal conditions for green hydrogen production” and that they risked being excluded from future lucrative markets without support in setting up infrastructure.
The 550 million euros provided by Germany will be administered in the form of grants by its development bank KfW.
The world must move quickly to slash carbon dioxide emissions from coal in order to avoid severe impacts from climate change, a report by the International Energy Agency said Tuesday.
The report found that the overwhelming majority of current global coal consumption occurs in countries that have pledged to achieve net zero emissions sometime this century. However, far from declining, global coal demand has been stable at near record highs for the past decade.
If nothing is done emissions from existing coal assets would by themselves tip the world across the 1.5 Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) warming limit set in the Paris climate agreement.
“A major unresolved problem is how to deal with the massive amount of existing coal assets worldwide,” said Fatih Birol, the IEA’s executive director.
Coal is both the single biggest source of carbon dioxide emissions from energy and the single biggest source of electricity generation worldwide. There are around 9,000 coal-fired power plants around the world today.
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