Perspective solutions concerning climate change were discussed at a yearly summit of world leaders in Egypt this November. Although skepticism towards any new solutions generally dominated the discussions, some decisions are well worth mentioning, e.g. creating a special fund for “loss and damages” for states suffering most. However, strange enough, global leaders still are not listening the scientific advises…
Global leaders at the COP-27 (abbreviation for “conferences of the parties”) on climate mitigation agreement this year in Egypt tried again –for almost three decades – to adopt new and badly needed approaches, and possibly strike feasible commitments in addressing climate change. Remarkably, all COPs during last few years have been associated with other vital global issues such as digitalisation, circular economy and sustainability.
It has been acknowledged again at this summit that the global community failed to master attempts to limit the rise of global warming to a 1.5 degrees Celsius rise as was set out in the Paris Agreement in 2015. In the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change program, it has been for long indicated that greenhouse gas emissions must decline 45% by 2030 in order to limit global warming to 1.5°C.
However, too many states around the world are not ready to make more progressive political decisions to combat climate crisis; particularly during last couple of years when it seems other issues have been more urgent and pressing…
However, still some positive steps were accomplished: e.g. COP27 has opened a new chapter on financing loss and damage and laid the foundations for a new method for solidarity between those in need and those in a position to help in mitigating climate change. It seems that most states around the world are rebuilding trust in some common actions. The creation of a “solidarity fund” is generally regarded as a “crucial move forward” representing a new concept of “climate justice” in vigorous actions for climate change measures. In this regard, the EU-27 block has been recognized as the world’s leading contributor of international climate finance; the EU team at COP27 confirmed the block’s commitment to support the most vulnerable states in the world by a solid contribution to “loss and damage” fund.
The global community finally – at the end of 2022 – approved a new and decisive step by establishing a world fund for “loss and damage” to tackle the negative impacts on those countries that suffered most concerning the worst consequences of climate change.
Participating states (so-called “parties”) agreed that limiting global warming to 1.5C requires not only rapid, deep and sustained reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions; they also recognised the need for accelerated national actions by the end of 2023. Thus, COP 27 reiterated the Glasgow Climate Pact agreement in 2021 for nationally determined contributions (NDCs) during present critical decade to be updated in line with the Paris Agreement temperature goal.
The leaders at COP27 also affirmed that the Glasgow Climate Pact will be guiding new world-wide mitigation work program to encourage the states to align their targets and actions towards net zero pollution; a big question still remains on how effective a new fund will be.
“Silver bullet” in solution
Since the Paris agreement on climate change reached at the end of 2015, the climate situation has just further deteriorated! It has been recognised, at least theoretically, that the optimal solution in mitigation would be around concentrated actions by the global and national/regional efforts. Good words about “commitment to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels” have been voiced for several years without much success. But half-way to a “final destination” by 2030, the governments and global leaders need more resolute actions.
The scientific community has already voiced its opinion on the “silver bullet”, i.e. most feasible solution to climate crisis through a combination of achievements in natural and social sciences. From the former, it is clear that the origin of crisis has been anthropogenic (e.g. through extensive growth in industrial development and other factors); from the latter, mainly from the side of the political economy, the solution is complicated but feasible, in reality.
Thus, on political side, the national governance shall be directed to a “limited” growth (proclaimed about 50 years ago by the Club of Rome research) following presently valid principles of sustainability; on the economic side, growth shall be of “zero-pollution”, the pattern that can be reached only by green and digital transition.
So, the scientific advice is there; it’s just a question of how quick the major polluters in the world, as well as all other nations, would start to follow the recommendations in a most active and accurate way…
New financial package was also aimed at boosting financial support for technology and capacity building needed by developing countries; in the mean time, governments agreed to establish a “transitional committee” to make recommendations on how to operationalize both the new funding arrangements and a new fund. The first meeting of the transitional committee is expected to take somewhere at the end of March 2023; the next COP28 will take place later in the year…
Note: more on the scientific side of the global challenges in the EII’s website at: https://www.integrin.dk; besides, our Institute is going to explore further on the inherent connections between the scientific sectors and climate change and sustainability.
The EU’s position
The European Union has both showed its commitment to reduce global warming, and even updated the member states national “climate contributions”, so-called NDCs.
As soon as global emissions peak is expected by 2025, the EU states decided to phase out unabated fossil fuels along with more than 80 countries around the world (out of 193 UN members) which are now supporting this goal.
The European Commission President underlined that COP27 has kept alive the goal of 1.5C; unfortunately, she noted, COP27 has not forced the world’s major emitters to phase down fossil fuels, nor it reached new commitments on the world-wide climate mitigation efforts.
But, she added, the EU would stay on the course of radical mitigation through the EU-wide “green deal” (adopted in December 2019) and REPowerEU program; for the EU states it is essential to keep alive the ambition of the Paris Agreement reached at the end of 2015.
The EU representatives acknowledged that COP27 has had a “strong language of active actions” and could reach an agreement on active measures”; however, the “EU team” at COP27 was disappointed that positive results were not achieved… Thus, the Commission’s Executive Vice-President Timmermans announced the creation of a new EU initiative to provide over €1 billion of financing for helping Africa to adapt to climate change.
Reference to: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/SPEECH_22_7042, and https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_22_7064.
Sources of funding
One of the major issues presently is that of available facilities and opportunities to increase various sources of funding to deal with the climate change. National governance in most countries has to elaborate additional (and often quite new) guidance on measures on “loss and damage”, and create new ways to increase global “climate solidarity”.
COP27 recognised the necessity of bridging the gap between those in need and those in a position to contribute to mitigation efforts of green growth and low carbon transition in view of present scares resources.
The participating states’ leaders established new funding arrangements for assisting developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change. This includes a new fund with a focus on addressing loss and damage, to be established by a transitional committee which would also look into expanding sources of funding.
As soon as climate finance is critical to support vulnerable communities to protect themselves against the impacts of climate change and to support sustainable economic growth, numerous so-called developed countries have committed to mobilise a total of $100 billion of international climate finance per year during 2020-2025 to help the most vulnerable countries and small island states in particular, in their mitigation and adaptation efforts. In this “package of help”, the EU is the biggest donor representing around a quarter of the whole financial assistance package.
More on financing in: = Q&A on the EU at COP27; and = Factsheet on Team Europe’s contribution to climate finance.
Some examples in climate crisis and mitigation
= Cities in global warming issue
For mitigating adverse clime change effects, cities around the world have to tackle the challenge of keeping global warming in check during this century. It is vital that city planners create disruptive urban spaces while trying to lower the 70 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions that cities generate. Good examples are coming from the EU, where efforts to redesign Europe’s cities towards promoting efforts in tackling air pollution and reducing the carbon footprint have been regarded positive. Besides, there were some other options to create greener lifestyles such as saving water, addressing light issues and reducing sound pollution, etc.
The Utrecht Mayor and the UN Cities Network Special Envoy Sharon Dijksma, underlined at COP 27 that cities were crucial to global efforts to tackling climate change: “68 percent of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050 and metropolitan regions are responsible for over 70 percent of total CO2 emissions” she said and added that “cities hold the key to the green transition and cities want to lead the way.”
Heating and cooling is directly responsible for roughly 25% of global CO2 emissions. In order to effectively phase out fossil fuels, the switch to the sole use of renewable energy in buildings is closely linked to effective storage of energy. Concrete is particularly well suited for this purpose thanks to its high thermal and conducting properties. Assuming a good building envelope, the storing capacity of concrete ceilings is sufficient to bridge several days without wind or solar energy. New and traditional construction materials can play a key role in decarbonizing the operation of buildings and cities.
The European Commission unveiled recently its first set of measures aimed at regulating how short-term rental platforms like Airbnb operate in cities. If approved, the rules mean Airbnb and others will have to supply near real-time booking data to national governments: something that can help city authorities tackle the nuisance and soaring housing prices; some say is caused by short-term holiday rentals.
In achieving carbon neutrality by 2030, in spring 2022 about 100 EU cities committed to reaching climate neutrality by that date through the so-called Cities-2030 commitments.
However, it might be an unachievable climate target: some states (e.g. Copenhagen) noted that they had to give up achieving carbon neutrality by 2025 after failing to manage the deal due to negative energy circumstances. And as soon as one of the world’s greenest and richest cities in Europe cannot make it, what hope is there for other European cities, like Paris and Rome? Reference to:
https://www.politico.eu/newsletter/global-policy-lab/living-cities-whats-in-a-net-zero-target-urban-nature-blindness-seat-at-the-cop27-table/?j=56090&sfmc_sub=12878987&l=993; November 10.2022.
= Transport: reducing carbon emissions
A group of NGOs pointed out at COP27 that transport is responsible for 27% of global carbon emissions. Although 60% of urban trips are shorter than 5 kilometers, more than half are undertaken in cars. They warn that an additional 50 billion tons of CO2 emissions will be generated over the next 30 years if we don’t invest in better cycling and pedestrian infrastructure.
The EU-27 is fully aware of the problem; therefore the Commission suggested in mid-November stricter non-CO2 emissions standards for new cars. The proposal is part of the EU-zero pollution initiative aimed at improving air quality, especially in cities where road traffic is the main source of air pollution.
The EU Commission has settled a so-called “easy to do” approach for cars, preferring to expand the scope of legislation to include emissions of particles from brakes and tires rather than toughen mandated reductions. The proposal comes in a dual strategy with the European Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton suggestion to phase out polluting cars by 2035 when that legislation comes up for review in 2026.