The chasm between the action needed to avert the worst of the climate crisis and what is actually happening is stark, but that does not mean there is no action taking place. On Thursday at Cop27, the rocketing sales of electric cars were set out in a report from BloombergNEF.
The key points:
Annual electric car sales are on track to exceed 10m in 2022, up more than 60% year on year and more than triple the 3.1m sold in 2020.
More than 13% of new cars sold globally in the first half of 2022 were electric, up from 8.7% in 2021, and 4.3% in 2020.
Electric vehicle use in 2022 will avoid the burning of 1.7m barrels of oil per day - more than the total oil consumption of France or Mexico, both G20 economies.
This exponential growth suggests a tipping point is being passed, leading to the runaway adoption of electric cars. They are cheaper to own overall than petrol or diesel cars and within a few years will cost less to buy as well, supercharging their growth.
Alok Sharma, the Cop26 president, says in the foreword to the report: “The [electric vehicle] transition is key to permanently ending our dependence on oil.”
Youth activists have a Friday climate strike
Young activists have finished a Friday climate strike marking the last formal day, marching down one of the pavilions outside the centres where negotiations are still taking place holding banners with slogans including “Don’t just say it, pay it!”
For the first time youth organisations including Fridays for Future, Youngo, Polluters Out, Latina for Climate and Start:Empowerment have issued a joint closing demand – on loss and reparations.
“The division between the two sides has been clear; the highest polluters have continued to block and delay the bare minimum funding through poor climate finance mechanisms such as the global shield,” said Fatemah Sultan, from Fridays for Future Pakistan. “Coming from a country like mine, Pakistan, which does not even emit 1% of global emissions, we are not here talking about the loss and damages of tomorrow, we are talking about the ones from my yesterday, my today and my tomorrow.”
Beyond the negotiations, the impacts of climate change continue to make themselves felt.
South Sudan, the world’s youngest country, has been hit by catastrophic floods for the fourth year in a row. Assistant High Commissioner for Operations at UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, Raouf Mazou today urged the international community to step up sustained support to provide South Sudan with climate-adapted development assistance to help it move away from dependency on humanitarian aid.
Care International points out that: “Since mid-October, one million people have been displaced, as the fourth consecutive year of flooding ravages the country. Some people who fled from their villages due to floods in 2019 are yet to return to their homes which were destroyed. Over 37,000 tons of crops have been destroyed and 800,000 cattle have been killed by flood waters. In Rubkona County, more than 140,000 people have had to leave their homes due to rising waters. They remain cut off with the only way of reaching them being canoes.”
Neighbouring Sudan was also hit by horrendous flooding this summer.
And meanwhile the Washington Post has published an absolutely harrowing report on what is happening to the Amazon rainforest.
For years, scientists have been warning that the Amazon is speeding toward a tipping point — the moment when deforestation and global warming would trigger an irreversible cascade of climatic forces, killing large swaths of what remained. If somewhere between 20 and 25 percent of the forest were lost, models suggested, much of the Amazon would perish.
About 18 percent of the rainforest is now gone, and the evidence increasingly supports the warnings. Whether or not the tipping point has arrived — and some scientists think it has — the Amazon is beginning to collapse.
Surprisingly large number of gas deals struck at Egyptian summit
While negotiators frantically try to hammer out some sort of deal at Cop27, the fossil fuel industry has already secured a result of sorts, with more than a dozen major gas deals struck during the two-week span of the climate talks.
The announced deals include an agreement between Tanzania and Shell for an LNG export facility, a move by the French oil and gas giant Total to drill in Lebanon, a partnership between Saudi Arabia and Indonesia on oil and gas extraction and a deal spearheaded by the US to provide new renewable energy investment to Egypt, in return for gas exports to Europe.
“There is no sign the oil and gas industries are slowing down, we are at risk of a major surge in gas projects that could push us beyond 1.5C,” said David Tong, global industry campaign manager at Oil Change International.
The gas deals are, at least, being outstripped by new clean energy announcements – at least 26 new renewable projects or agreements have been publicly announced since the start of Cop.
But the heavy presence of oil and gas lobbyists in Sharm el-Sheikh – more than 600 fossil fuel lobbyists have attended, a record – and the featuring of oil and gas representatives in events held by the Egyptian organisers of the talks suggests that climate conferences are still not feared places to tread for the primary instigators of the climate crisis.
“It’s definitely noticeable how many oil and gas people there are here compared to previous Cops,” said Tong, who has been to eight of the UN climate summits. “On top of that, it’s still hard to tell whether any reference to phasing out fossil fuels will make it into the draft decision here.”
Big Ag representatives at Cop in large numbers this year
A great scoop here from Desmog, who have found that representatives from big agriculture have more than doubled at Cop27 this year.
Meat, dairy and pesticide producers were all present at the climate conference, which this year had a focus on biodiversity.
Many have complained that there has been little discussion of how meat and dairy production is responsible for a large portion of both emissions and biodiversity degradation.
DeSmog counted the number of registered COP27 delegates who were either directly linked to the world’s largest agribusiness firms – such as meatpackers JBS, food corporation Cargill, or biotech leaders Bayer – or participating in the UN talks as part of delegations that represent industry interests.
They found that the number of delegates linked to such businesses rose from 76 in 2021 to at least 160 this year – double the presence at COP26 in Glasgow. The world’s top five pesticide producers sent 27 representatives, according to the research, which is more than some country delegations.
There were 35 delegates linked to the biggest meat and dairy companies and associated industry lobby groups, which DeSmog worked out is greater than the combined delegations of the Philippines and Haiti, which are among the countries most affected by climate breakdown.
We’re now officially overrunning. Just in case it’s useful, my colleague Alan Evans has passed me this graph showing the increasing tendency of Cops to overrun.
Let’s hope we’re not about to replicate Cop25 in Madrid, which didn’t wind up until 13.55 on Sunday.
Yeb Saño, executive director for Greenpeace Southeast Asia and a former chief negotiator for the Philippines at previous Cops, says the negotiations at Cop27 are on a “knife edge”.
“Putting loss and damage on the agenda is an important recognition of climate reality and the profound impacts on many communities around the world, but that recognition needs to be backed by action. This is on a knife edge with many countries now shifting behind establishing the fund this year [and] targeted to vulnerable countries.”
“Against the overall backdrop of climate carnage being wrought against the least responsible around the world this Cop was never set up to succeed, but if it ends without agreeing a loss and damage fund it will be a resounding moral failure leaving the most vulnerable even more exposed. That failure will be laid at the feet of a handful of blocking countries.”
Ten year old activist asks delegates to 'have a heart'
Nakeeyat Dramani, a 10-year-old Ghanaian climate activist, spoke passionately to the delegates assembled at Cop27 today, appealing to them to ‘have a heart’.
Dramani spoke “on behalf of young people” in fear over their future, who see the impact of the climate crisis every day, in the form of air pollution, flooding and droughts. She joined Ghana’s delegation to add her voice to the pressing consequences of the climate emergency in her country.
At the end of her speech, Dramani recited a poem, telling leaders to step up their game in fighting the climate crisis, and then held up a sign reading “Payment overdue”, in reference to the funds that have been long promised by developed countries.
Climate summit to be extended an extra day
AFP is now reporting that the gridlocked UN climate talks will head into overtime. UN climate talks have been extended by a day in an effort to break deadlock as nations tussle over funding for developing countries battered by weather disasters and ambition on curbing global warming.
Wealthy and developing nations were struggling to find common ground on creating the fund, and on a host of other crucial issues, with only hours before the summit was scheduled to end in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, who chairs the COP27 talks, told delegates that the negotiations would spill into Saturday, a delay not unusual in such sprawling UN climate talks. “I remain concerned at the number of outstanding issues,” he said.
The idea of taxing fossil fuels, flying and shipping to provide climate funds has moved a little closer to reality with the European Union’s proposal on loss and damage, which is the money demanded by poorer, vulnerable nations to rebuild after unavoidable climate disasters.
The EU proposal says: “We should work with the UN Secretary General to dig into solutions for innovative sources of finance - including levies on aviation, shipping and fossil fuels.”
The UNSG, António Guterres, said in September: “Polluters must pay. I am calling on all developed economies to tax the windfall profits of fossil fuel companies.”
On Tuesday, dozens of media organisations from around the world, including the Guardian, published a joint editorial article calling for a windfall tax on the biggest fossil fuel companies.
The global oil and gas industry has banked $1 trillion a year in pure profit for the last 50 years, and will probably be double that in 2022 as prices soared due to Russia’s war in Ukraine.
This might be a good moment to take in the wisdom of our colleague Fiona Harvey. Over the last year she headed out with a film crew to speak to Alok Sharma and Patricia Espinosa among others to try to pin down whose job it is to tackle climate change.
As Espinosa tells her: “It’s not looking good for humanity”.
But Harvey – who describes her job as ‘reporting on the end of the world’ - finishes on a note on optimism and hope for a better, more liveable planet.
'We feel silenced' say activists who lost access after interrupting Biden
My colleague Nina Lakhani has reported on the four activists who very briefly interupted US president Joe Biden’s speech, and subsequently had their Cop27 revoked.
Big Wind, Jacob Johns, Jamie Wefald, and Angela Zhong missed the second week of the climate conference after being suspended for standing up with a “People vs Fossil Fuels” banner during Biden’s speech last Friday. The Indigenous activists, Wind and Johns, gave a war cry to announce themselves and draw attention to the fossil fuels crisis before security officials confiscated the banner. The group then sat down and Biden continued.
After the brief interruption, they sat quietly through the remainder of the speech before being escorted out by UN security staff. John said: “The UN security said that our war call had put people’s lives in danger, and we were now deemed a security threat. Our badges were pulled and we had to leave.”
The activists feel they have been silenced. Jacob Johns told the Guardian: “This is a clear example of radical Indigenous people and youth being silenced, we’re muted when we try to express our frustration in these spaces. It shows the UN’s true colours.”
A UNFCCC spokesperson said no advocacy actions were allowed inside plenary and conference rooms and that the four were suspended for breaking the code of conduct. “A final decision on the suspension shall be made after further enquiry of the issue,” they said.
Away from the negotiations it’s just emerged that Luxembourg has also now left the Energy Charter Treaty. The UK, however, continues to stand firm.
Arthur Neslen revealed some of the systemic problems with this treaty earlier this week: if you haven’t read his investigation yet, it’s definitely worth a look.
Joe Lo of Climate Home has tweeted an interesting comment from presidency’s Wael Aboulmagd, Egypt’s special representative for Cop27, on how the negotiations are going. According to Aboulmagd, it’s normal for countries to object to draft agreements.
I don’t think we have much to worry about. I hope I’m not wrong … Nobody is supposed to be 100% comfortable.
A few images from the Sharm El-Sheikh venue. The discussions could theoretically wind up within the next few hours – or last another couple of days.
Hallo it’s Bibi van der Zee here, taking over from my colleague Patrick Greenfield. Please email me at email@example.com or message me @bibivanderzee (if twitter is still standing by the end of the day).
Negotiations are carrying on, and everyone is waiting to find out whether there will be some sort of agreement by the end of today or whether – much more likely – discussions will carry on tomorrow. If they do continue, we’ll be blogging here, so hope you’ll join us
Thanks for following along. I am about to hand over to my colleague Bibi van der Zee.
As Cop27 nears its end, climate scientists have given a gloomy reminder of the physical reality of the climate crisis. Just before Cop27, the UN said there was “no credible pathway to 1.5C in place” and that progress on cutting carbon emissions was “woefully inadequate”. At Cop27, scientists reported the “bleak” finding that carbon emissions from fossil fuels will hit a record high in 2022.
Prof Pierre Friedlingstein, at the University of Exeter, UK, said:
Keeping global warming below 1.5C is getting harder and harder. It has been seven years since all countries signed the Paris Agreement, and yet 2022 saw a rise, not a decline, of CO2 emissions from fossil fuel burning. The only option left is probably a significant overshoot followed by massive carbon dioxide removal at unprecedented scale.
Andy Wiltshire, UK Met Office, said:
The downside of [overshoot and] not staying below 1.5C altogether is a greater risk this century of more severe climate impacts, such as those triggered by increased melting of icecaps or collapse of an ecosystem like the Amazon rainforest.
Prof Ed Hawkins, University of Reading, UK, said:
We will all regret not acting sooner and faster on reducing emissions. We are already feeling the consequences of previous delays through more extreme weather events, and future generations will not understand why we did not act earlier to limit the consequences.
Stephanie Hirmer, at the University of Oxford, UK, said:
This Cop was branded as the ‘implementation Cop’ following on from Cop26 as the ‘Cop of the pledges’; however, nothing has been implemented, and it has thus failed to achieve what it set out to do. What I hope for Cop28 is that the difficult questions are more at the forefront of discussion, and not relegated to a few brave protestors.
The EU’s “breakthrough” change in stance on loss and damage finance has put the spotlight on the US and China as the talks come to a close in Egypt. Both countries have previously been criticised for their stance on the issue.
Africa accounts for approximately 16% of the world’s population but just 4% of greenhouse emissions compared with 23% by China and 19% by the US.
We spoke to Ugandan activist Vanessa Nakate ahead of Cop27 on what she thinks rich countries must do to address the pain being felt by the world’s most vulnerable people.
Watch the video explainer here.
Ukrainian campaigner leaves Egypt over safety fears
Ukrainian climate campaigner Svitlana Romanko and others protested at a Russian government event at Cop27 on Wednesday, shouting: “You are war criminals and you should not be here, but in front of an international war crimes tribunal.”
They have now had their passes to the Cop27 venue suspended and have left Egypt, saying they feared for their safety given Russia’s history of brutal treatment of critics.
Romanko, director of the Razom We Stand group said: “Russian delegates and their fossil fuel industry, who are to blame for a war and for the climate crisis, are doing fine, walking Cop27 corridors and enjoying their lethal lobbying against the climate.
“While our treatment in exposing an event at Cop27 that tried to give some legitimacy to the murderous Russian regime is appalling, we also think of other activists today who cannot leave Egypt, but are locked up in prison for speaking out. People must have the right to stand up and speak out for freedom, democracy and climate justice.”
Protesters who briefly interrupted a speech by US president Joe Biden last Friday also had their badges suspended.
You can watch the video from the Russian event here:
Mary Robinson, chair of The Elders and former UN commissioner for human rights, has given her reaction to the EU’s proposal on loss and damage.
This proposal from the ministerial co-leads Jennifer Morgan and Maisa Rojas on loss and damage finance puts us on the cusp of a historic breakthrough. We’ve gone from not even having loss and damage finance on the agenda at Cop27 to having a fund, a mechanism, and a flow of finance all within our grasp.
If adopted, this could well ignite bold reform of the wider international financial system so multilateral development banks open their coffers for those in need of loss and damage financing. If this text is agreed at Cop27 it not only delivers a UNFCCC [United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change] answer to loss and damage finance, it could initiate the restructuring of international financial architecture to meet today’s global challenges.
At the same press conference at which the Tuvalu minister described the EU loss and damage position as a “breakthrough”, civil society groups responded angrily to the failure of the latest draft text to support the phasing out of fossil fuels. Instead, it suggests countries will just repeat last year’s agreement that coal should be phased down (but not out).
Zeina Khalil Hajj, from the group 350.org, said that “sadly, we are still looking at text with loopholes”.
“We can not consider this Cop to be a success if phasing out fossil fuels is not in the text. We can not consider this an implementation conference [as described by the Egyptian presidency] because there is no implementation without phasing out fossil fuels altogether.”
She said activists objected to the introduction of language that said inefficient fossil fuel subsidies should be “rationalised”. Last year’s Glasgow pact said they should be phased out.
“We can not rationalise burning our planet.”
Catherine Abreu, from Destination Zero, said the Egyptian presidency had ignored calls from India, the US, EU, UK, Tuvalu and several other European countries for fossil fuels to be phased out or down.
“If we don’t see that in the next iteration we will call this Cop a failure.”
Lorraine Chiponda, from the Africa Climate Movement of Movements, pointed to the large number of fossil fuel lobbyists at Cop – more than 600 – and said it was clear they had affected decision making.
She said with a few hours to go there was still “no answer or solution” for African people at what was supposed to be an African-focused Cop. Leaders had failed to address a major push to develop gas resources in Africa that would lead to the construction of pipelines, communities being displaced, water supplies affected and emissions significantly increased.
She said: “The advancement of gas, the advancement of fossil fuels, the level of consideration of the need to phase out gas and oil show that this Cop has failed.”
UCL’s professor of global change science, Simon Lewis, gives his take on the draft cover text.
Karl Mathiesen, Politico’s senior climate correspondent, with a great quote from an Egyptian official on when Cop27 is likely to finish.
Loss and damage example: Pakistan
The issue of loss and damage, the funding being demanded by poorer nations to rebuild after unavoidable climate disasters, is now the pivotal issue at Cop27. The negotiations over the founding and structure of such a fund are wonkish, but Dr Farah Naureen, Mercy Corps’ country director for Pakistan has reminded delegates what loss and damage actually means on the ground:
“One staggering loss and damage example [is] the catastrophic flooding that hit my country, Pakistan, killing more than 1,700 this year. In the most-affected areas, the water has not receded. Communities are forced to camp in tents on elevated roadsides surrounded by snake-infested water and they are at constant risk of waterborne diseases. Some sleep close to their destroyed homes to keep an eye on the little they still own, wondering how to get their lives and livelihood back.”
“This year, the total losses and damages caused by flooding are estimated at $30bn in Pakistan. Only 20% of an $800 UN aid appeal for the country has been funded so far, which will address urgent needs, but not long-term recovery and reconstruction. At least 25,000 schools have been damaged, forcing children, especially young girls, to stay at home. Health facilities were also destroyed, leaving thousands of pregnant women without prenatal and delivery care. Most families are not ready to face the harsh winter.”
“Some countries such as Belgium, Canada, New Zealand, and the UK have pledged bilateral funding to address loss and damage. While this recognises the responsibility of higher-income countries for loss and damage, the amounts are small and symbolic.”
Pakistan produced 0.7% of carbon emissions in 2020. But human-caused global heating made the devastating rains that flooded a third of the nation about 50% worse.
The Global Campaign to Demand Climate Justice held a press conference to try and unpick the state of negotiations in Sharm el-Sheikh, as well as outlining what Gadir Lavadenz of GCDCJ called the “hypocrisies” occurring during the talks.
Lavandez criticised what he labelled as “so-called developed nations not only obstructing negotiations but locking the world in a fossil fuel dependent path, by closing all sorts of fossil-fuel based energy deals”, during Cop27.
Panelists Meena Raman of the Third World Network and Mohamed Adow of Power Shift Africa both criticised the current options being discussed at Cop27 around a fund for “loss and damage”, particularly around debates over the definition of “vulnerable,” countries.
“We need a fund that can channel support to the most vulnerable communities, but a way that allows us to define what vulnerability is,” said Adow.
In their reading, this language was already settled in the text of the Paris agreement, and efforts to put further definitions on it now risks restricting access to the fund only to a tiny minority of countries, rather than recognising that the majority of the global south is vulnerable to the impact of the climate crisis.
Raman outlined the current options being discussed for a loss and damage fund, including establishing a fund immediately, establishing a fund that begins in 2024 or an alternative funding arrangement entirely.
“Watch the United States and other developed countries hiding behind the US to see whether they’ll be in support of a proposition to establish a fund right here in Sharm el-Sheikh,” she said. “Overall in the negotiations, the US in particular and others including Switzerland for the environmental integrity group, they have been quite belligerent. What they’re trying to do across all agenda items is to wreck the Paris agreement and wreck the convention. How they do this is by not acknowledging their historical responsibility, removing references to common but differentiated responsibilities and capabilities … you can’t come to Sharm el-Sheikh and try to delete all you’ve agreed to in the past and pretend as though there’s no historical responsibility.”
Brandon Wu of ActionAid USA also voiced criticisms of the EU’s loss and damage proposal put forward last night, saying that while the proposal would establish a fund immediately, that “the fund here includes a number of poison pills”.
He said: “One of them is this focus on vulnerable countries only, as well as broadening the donor base. These are two things that go against agreements that have already been made, and were extremely hard fought, and we found a landing zone in Paris that again not everyone was happy with, but we already have. Again, this push to broaden the donor base in particular is an abdication of responsibility from developed countries, let’s be clear on what it is. It would be a lot more credible if the US, if the EU, were actually meeting their climate finance obligations, but they’re not coming anywhere close. They say we’re getting close to the 100 billion [US dollars] while 75% of what they’re counting is loans or private finance or export credit, it’s not real finance that’s flowing north to south.”
The low-lying Pacific island of Tuvalu has been reacting to the EU’s proposal on “loss and damage”. Its finance minister, Seve Paeniu, called for support for phasing out all fossil fuels, language so far missing from the draft Sharm el-Sheikh agreement.
He described the EU position on loss and damage as a “breakthrough”.
“They are now agreeing to setting up a response fund. To me, that is a major concession and major breakthrough,” he said. “It is our hope that will be ending up in the text of the conference decision.”
He said there would then be 12 months before the next Cop “to do all the work” on designing the fund. He also welcomed an EU push for a recognition that global emissions need to peak by 2025, rather than 2030, and that greater action was needed to cut methane. But he said that were not enough to accelerate ambition towards limiting heating to 1.5C.
Paeniu said language in a draft agreement for the conference needed to be strengthened to say there should be a ban on all new fossil fuel extraction and production, including oil and gas, not just a phase down of unabated coal power. “That needs to be in the conference decision by the end of today.”
If you are confused about what is going on at Cop27 this morning, we need to go back to 1992 when the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was established. The Soviet Union had just been dissolved, the world’s human population was about 5.5 billion, and countries such as China and South Korea were still industrialising.
Much has changed in 30 years. Some former eastern bloc countries are part of the EU and as such, have become donor nations in the UNFCCC process. The UAE, Brazil, South Korea, China, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are much wealthier and have emitted enormous amounts of greenhouse gases.
Many wealthy donor countries feel that countries whose economies have grown significantly since 1992, especially China, should contribute to any loss and damage fund for vulnerable countries. There will be a big tussle on this issue in the coming hours and days in Egypt between negotiators.
Here is the latest from Carbon Brief’s senior policy editor Simon Evans on how close we are to agreement.
China, Saudi Arabia and Qatar should contribute to loss and damage - Canada
I grabbed a word with Canada’s environment minister, Steven Guilbeault, at its Cop27 pavilion this morning. He said Canada was supportive of the EU’s proposal on loss and damage, but countries such as China, Saudi Arabia and Qatar should contribute to the fund given their historical emissions and wealth.
He told the Guardian: “We are not opposed to the idea of creating a new fund. There’s already a lot of funding out there … The G77 seems to really, really want a new fund. I think what the EU proposal does is to say: ‘if we were to create a new fund, we are going to need certain conditions: we need to see real ambition on mitigation in the text’. We agree with that and we are not seeing that right now.
“We need to have a serious conversation about expanding the donor base. We recognise our responsibility but we are less and less large emitters compared to others. It’s in the interest of vulnerable countries to have more donors … China should definitely be there. I think there are a number of oil-producing nations in the Gulf region that should be part of that. I haven’t looked at the UAE’s figures but Qatar and Saudi Arabia, yes,” he said.
Loss and damage has been the main issue and sticking point at these talks, but what exactly does it mean? My colleague Nina Lakhani’s explainer should answer your questions:
Megan Darby, editor of ClimateHome, is also going through the new text (which dropped, she says, a couple of hours after they’d sent out the newsletter).
She points out that the demand for fossil fuel phase-down which many people wanted still has not made the cut. But also adds:
Provocative basic language on “deep regret” that developed countries are so rubbish has gone.
The latest draft text has also been published and is being combed through by everyone.
the deletion of references to human right to a clean environment;
no reference to phasing out of oil & gas;
and no reference to the crucial biodiversity COP-15 upcoming next month and the need for a strong outcome
Mikael Karlsson has tweeted the EU proposal here.
Good morning, and welcome to the Guardian’s live coverage of the Cop27 climate talks.
Today is theoretically the final day of the conference, but these events usually overrun and most people expect it to last into Saturday and possibly even Sunday.
However, a major step forward came overnight as the European Union agreed to support the creation of a fund for loss and damage finance – that is, money provided by rich countries to help poorer countries adapt to and recover from the devastating effects of the climate crisis.
My colleagues Fiona Harvey and Adam Morton have the full story here:
Patrick Greenfield will be here shortly, and you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @pgreenfielduk.