Here's what happened on the third day of the UN COP27 climate talks

Here’s what happened on the third day of the UN COP27 climate talks

Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif, Prime Minister of Pakistan, listens to speeches during the conference. He also took the stage today to explain the impact of the catastrophic floods in Pakistan this summer.

Peter Dejong/AP

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Peter Dejong/AP

International climate negotiations continued today in the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

Leaders from dozens of countries took the stage to describe how climate change is killing and injuring their citizens and harming their economies. Scientists have been looking at how humans can adapt to a warmer planet. And the United Nations has tried to crack down on companies that lie about reducing their greenhouse gas emissions.

Pakistani Prime Minister has sounded the alarm

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif of Pakistan took the floor to make an opening statement on behalf of his country. He began with the grim details of the catastrophic floods that hit Pakistan earlier this summer.

Thirty-three million people have been affected, he said, more than half of whom are women and children. In the south of the country, seven times more rain than average fell.

“All of this happened despite our very low carbon footprint,” Sharif told the assembled world leaders. “And yet, we were victims of something with which we had nothing to do.

“It’s just plain unfair and unfair, to say the least,” he continued. Sharif called on world leaders to find a fairer way for the wealthy countries responsible for today’s global warming to help pay the costs of climate disasters.

The UN targets greenwashing

The UN is trying to prevent “dishonest climate accounting” from companies and local governments that have promised to eliminate or offset their carbon emissions.

Non-state actors such as financial institutions and city governments will play a crucial role in bringing the world to net zero emissions by mid-century, a group of experts working for the UN has said in a report. To ensure they deliver on their promises, groups that have made net zero commitments should publicly report on their progress with verified information, the report says.

The report also says groups that have made net zero commitments should stop building or investing in new fossil fuel supplies, avoid buying ‘cheap’ carbon offset credits instead of reducing their own emissions. , and ensure that their lobbying activities align with their climate commitments.

“A growing number of governments and non-state actors are committing to being carbon-free. And, of course, that’s good news,” said António Guterres, the UN secretary-general. “The problem is that the benchmarks for these net zero commitments have varying levels of stringency and gaps wide enough to pass a diesel truck.”

US election casts shadow over global talks

Voters head to the polls to decide which party will control Congress, and the outcome could undermine the Biden administration’s bargaining power in climate talks over the next two weeks.

The United States has already pledged to cut emissions by 50-52% by 2030. Passing the Cut Inflation Act, which is spurring adoption of electric cars and more efficient buildings, is a major element in achieving this goal and is already underway.

“If there’s a leadership change in Congress, Congress won’t be able to pass the repeal of the Inflation Reduction Act,” said Dan Lashof, director of the World Resources Institute. “It’s an essential foundation of federal policy and, importantly, most of it is self-executing.”

According to the new “America Is All In” report, the United States is on track to reduce emissions by 39% by 2030, but would need to completely phase out coal by then to reach its goal. But one of the main negotiating points at COP27 concerns how to increase financing for developing countries to help them adapt to climate change and pay for the damage caused by climate impacts. If the Democrats lose Congress, the Republicans will likely oppose any climate aid for poorer countries.

Scientists say more research is needed on the places most at risk from warming

People living in low-income and developing countries are the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. This includes sea level rise, heavy rains and the most extreme storms, droughts and heat waves.

“The impacts are here, they are now and they are affecting the most vulnerable,” said Debra Roberts, co-chair of the adaptation section of a broad international climate report published last year, during a presentation today. at COP27.

Roberts and other top climate scientists working for the United Nations have warned that research on climate change adaptation is focused on wealthier countries. This disparity leaves millions without helpful guidance, scientists say.

Where are the protests?

Last year’s conference in Glasgow saw crowds of thousands gather outside the conference center to press for climate action. Their voices could sometimes be heard inside the building. This year couldn’t be more different.

The Egyptian government has said it will allow some protests. But he limited protesters to a fenced area several minutes’ drive from the conference center. And human rights groups say the government carefully vetted who was allowed to protest.

When NPR reported to the protest site, there were only a few dozen protesters and the event was carefully controlled. As a foreign TV crew approached, one of the organizers quietly warned protesters, who had been told to stand in line, to be careful what they said to each other, even to each other, because the correspondent “understands Arabic”.

Rather than trying to hold politicians at the conference to account, people seemed keen to voice their support for world leaders – especially Egyptian President Abdul Fattah El Sisi.

Taher Salem, an employee of the Ministry of Education, said he had come to the protest site to join President Sisi in “welcoming people from all over the world here”. “We are here to support the conference; to welcome Sharm el Sheikh; welcome to Egypt,” he said.

This scene is in line with Egypt’s record on freedom of expression. The country has a record of widespread suppression of dissent, with around 60,000 political prisoners. Human Rights Watch says dozens of environmental activists were arrested ahead of the summit.

Despite these efforts, human rights are increasingly at the center of the conference. Sanaa Seif, the sister of one of Egypt’s best-known political prisoners, Alaa Abd El Fattah, is on hand to highlight the case of her brother, who has been in prison for almost a decade.

At the same time, Abd El Fattah escalated an ongoing hunger strike by also refusing water. Several world leaders, including British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz have all said they raised his case in talks with Egyptian officials.

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