COP27: three reasons rich countries can no longer ignore calls

COP27: three reasons rich countries can no longer ignore calls


We tend to surf on how and why disputes arise between countries because each has interests to preserve. Notably, the advanced countries have the most to lose, and the developing ones are convinced they have too little to wait for.  Despite that, at COP27, the authors found three reasons rich countries can no longer ignore calls to pay the developing world for climate havoc.

The enormous global paradox is that progress and development are the natural causes of planetary embarrassment and which, combined with the misdeeds of nature, pose a problem.

The above image is of Ends Report

Below picture was featured in New York Times 

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of Britain and Prince Mohammed bin Zayed of the United Arab Emirates in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, on Monday.Credit…UAE Presidential Court, via Reuters

COP27: three reasons rich countries can no longer ignore calls to pay developing world for climate havoc

Lisa Vanhala, UCL

Payments from high-emitting countries to mitigate the harm that climate change has caused in the most vulnerable parts of the world is finally on the agenda for discussion at a global climate change summit, more than 30 years after the idea was first articulated by delegates from small island developing states.

Loss and damage is the term used by the UN to describe these impacts of climate change that cannot be prevented and to which people cannot adapt. These include lives that have been and will be lost, communities displaced by rising seas, extreme weather and famine, livelihoods and cultural heritage destroyed and ecosystems damaged beyond repair because of a failure to arrest greenhouse gas emissions, and so, global temperature rise.

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported that approximately 3.3 to 3.6 billion people are highly vulnerable to climate change. Many of them live in west, central and east Africa, south Asia, central and South America, as well as in small island developing states, such as Vanuatu in the Pacific, and in the Arctic.

As countries in these regions divert more of their wealth towards preparing for and recovering from storms, spreading deserts and melting glaciers, they are left with less money to cut their emissions and contribute to meeting the 1.5°C goal agreed at the negotiations in Paris in 2015. Rich countries, who are responsible for most emissions, promised US$100 billion (£87.2 billion) a year in aid in 2015.

But a recent UN report found that international finance to help the most vulnerable countries adapt to climate change (with bigger sea walls, for instance) has amounted to less than one-tenth of what is needed, and the gap between the two is widening. The US, UK, Canada and Australia are among the biggest laggards when their historical responsibility for climate change is taken into account. There has been no separate funding to address the damage already caused by warming.

At COP26 in 2021, developing countries proposed a loss and damage finance facility to help communities recovering from disasters and compensate them for what they have lost already. The EU and US resisted this in the final days of talks.

Instead, the Glasgow Dialogue was established: a series of discussions about how to arrange funding to help countries bearing the brunt of climate change. Delegates from developing country were sorely disappointed. Instead of material support, they got another talking shop.

But many of these same negotiators are heading into COP27 with new resolve. Here are three reasons why loss and damage is becoming harder for rich countries to ignore.

1. The latest science

Attribution science, which clarifies the links between extreme weather events and emissions, has taken great leaps forward in recent years. Across more than 400 studies, scientists have examined wildfires in the US, heatwaves in India and Pakistan, typhoons in Asia and record-breaking rainfall in the UK.

Broadly, this research shows the poorest and most vulnerable are bearing the heaviest burden despite having contributed the least to the problem. This growing evidence base bolsters the case for reparations.

2. Climate impacts are escalating

The deadly floods in Pakistan in August are the latest in a series of disasters to push loss and damage up the global agenda. According to a recent study, as much as 50% of the rainfall would not have happened without climate change.

Pakistan’s leaders have said that wealthy countries must help pay the bill. After all, it is the latter’s actions that precipitated the disaster. Pakistan’s historically low emissions mean its own contribution to climate change is negligible.

From droughts in Somalia to floods in Nigeria, extreme weather during 2022 has also heaped suffering on African countries with little culpability for climate change. Given that COP27 will be held in Egypt and has been dubbed “the African COP”, these arguments will be brought to the fore.

3. Growing momentum outside of the UN process

The increasing number and importance of lawsuits brought against countries and companies failing to reduce their emissions highlights growing frustration with negotiations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). As long as rich countries continue to evade the loss and damage issue, vulnerable countries and communities – and their lawyers – will search for alternative solutions.

That is not to say they haven’t had some notable recent successes. The UN Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) decided in September that the Australian government is failing to protect the Torres Strait Islanders from the effects of climate change. This sets a precedent in international human rights law which could one day extend to governments and institutions which have affected people further afield.

But, outside the UN, poorer countries are organising to explore ever more sophisticated diplomatic and legal ways of applying pressure on rich countries. At COP26, the prime ministers of Antigua and Barbuda and Tuvalu launched a commission to explore the kinds of compensation small island states might seek under international law. A group of countries led by Vanuatu is heading for the International Court of Justice.

Since high levels of debt hinder their ability to recover from the ravages of climate change, African and small island leaders are demanding debtors (including development banks and rich countries) write off, suspend or reschedule payments so that vulnerable nations can spend more on cutting emissions and adapting to climate change. These proposals have been called “debt for climate swaps”.

The International Monetary Fund recently announced a resilience and sustainability trust to help shield the finances of vulnerable countries from climate disasters, suggesting development policy is slowly shifting. This followed campaigning by Mia Mottley, the prime minister of Barbados.

Strings attached

Some rich countries are now taking action, suggesting a growing acknowledgement that this funding cannot be delayed forever. In September, Denmark was the first UN party to pledge finance – about US$13 million – to address loss and damage. The G7, under the leadership of the German presidency, has launched an initiative to expand access to financial aid in the immediate aftermath of climate disasters through improvements to existing insurance and social security schemes.

Because these initiatives have come outside of the UNFCCC negotiations, donor countries are free to dictate the terms of their support, sidestepping a process that should be about meeting the needs of vulnerable communities. Much of their funding will go into insurance schemes. Many of the insurance firms that would benefit are based in Europe and the US.

Insurance payouts may be a lifeline for drought-scarred small farmers and flooded homeowners. But some risks are uninsurable, especially those with a slow onset, such as those resulting from sea-level rise. Then there are less tangible harms, such as lost livelihoods, illness and biodiversity loss. Insurance against cyclones won’t compensate fishers in Tuvalu who stand to lose their coastal fisheries as coral reefs succumb to warming.

The next front in the loss and damage debate will involve exploring whether providing finance as a form of solidarity (rather than compensation) is more palatable for rich countries. If that money is wrapped up in insurance schemes, designed to enrich consultants, it won’t really help poor countries. Progress at COP27 will be determined by whether these nations feel the UNFCCC is even capable of helping them.


Lisa Vanhala, Professor of Political Science, UCL

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.



Fight against global warming, for the collective effort of Africa


The world is, according to most, losing the climate change battle, but Algeria losing no hope is gearing up and can lead the way to combat climate change.  It is a Fight against global warming for the collective effort of Africa.

COP 27: Algeria’s actions in the Fight against global warming for the collective effort of Africa.

By Dr Abderrahmane MEBTOUL


The temperature record is likely to become the norm, and not the exception and scientists continue to warn about global warming and call for emergency measures. Aware of the dangers threatening our planet, Algeria will be present at COP 27, which will take place in Egypt from 6 to 18 November 2022. The President of the Republic, Abdelmadjid TEBBOUNE, recently presented an ambitious plan for the fight against global warming in Africa. The goal unanimously adopted by the Organization of African Union (OAU) proposed the establishment of the Support Fund for Measures to Combat the Negative Impacts of Climate Change. It had been endorsed by the Peace and Security Council (PSC), urging developed countries to fulfil their commitments to limit climate deterioration.

1.-The context of the holding of COP 27 in Egypt

This crucial meeting engages the world’s security where UN reports predict an unprecedented drought between 2025 and 2030, with fires, a shortage of fresh water and, therefore, a food crisis. It is in an alarming context, with the last two years, 2021 and 2022, marked by extreme weather events such as mega-fires in the Amazon, California or Greece, drought in North Africa and Europe, continued deforestation in the Amazon, and floods in Pakistan. Fundamentally, if we fail to transition to a low-carbon world, it will threaten the integrity of the global economy. 

Because the climate is a vast, interconnected system, any action in a specific area of the globe impacts the rest of the world. Since 1850, our planet has already warmed by an average of 1.1°C. According to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), global warming could reach 1.5°C to 4.4°C by 2100. IPCC experts say global warming should be contained to +1.5°C by 2100 to prevent our climate from spiralling away. This limitation will be out of reach unless immediate, rapid and massive reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are achieved through carbon neutrality by 2050. Global warming has several adverse effects that threaten global security. Global warming is having disastrous consequences on the planet. It leads to rising sea levels, changing the oceans, amplifying extreme weather events and causing water to evaporate, which changes rainfall patterns. Global warming threatens plants and animals as the growth cycles of wild and cultivated plants are altered. Global warming is also disrupting human living conditions and increasing health risks: heat waves, cyclones, floods, and droughts, facilitated the spread of diseases and disruption of the distribution of natural resources, their quantity and quality, and agricultural yields and fishing activities. Thus, government commitments would only achieve 20% of the necessary emission reductions by 2030. Achieving the goals would require an investment of up to $4 trillion annually over the next decade, with most of these investments directed to developing economies. Global warming is not a vision of the mind being a global threat, and the highest Algerian authorities have become aware, especially with, on the one hand, torrential rains and, on the other hand, fires more and more frequent with sometimes criminal acts. But it is a question of distinguishing short-term actions in the face of emergencies from medium- and long-term measures that exceed the means of a single country; the efforts must be collective.

2.- Algeria’s actions against global warming: the national climate plan 2020-2030

For Algeria, a semi-arid country, the significant impacts of climate change are fires destroying thousands of hectares of forests, sometimes with many victims, not to mention material damage – as in 2021 in Kabylia and 2022 in the east of the country. A shortage of water resources, the degradation of water quality, the intrusion of marine waters at aquifers and the deterioration of infrastructure are caused mainly by water tables flooding. Algeria has adopted an ambitious plan against global warming because it has experienced, over the last century, a temperature increase of 0.3 ° C per decade as well as a rainfall deficit of 15%, requiring another water policy not unique to Algeria, which can lead to wars in the world. Algeria has opted for seawater desalination units throughout the country, particularly on the coasts where more than 80% of the population is concentrated. In Algeria, there are losses of up to 30% due to old pipes, making investments urgent as well as in water recycling units, another policy for agriculture by encouraging dripping, for example. The Albian aquifer is the enormous groundwater table in the world, with about 50,000 billion cubic meters, straddling three countries, Algeria, Libya and Tunisia. 70% of the water table is in Algerian territory in the country’s southeast. A pipeline has been built between In Salah and Tamanrasset for its supply, and a reasonable policy without breaking the ecosystem (these aquifers are non-renewable) can boost agriculture. Algeria is committed to the fight against climate change. In 2015, it ratified the Paris Climate Agreement (COP 21). Long before, in June 1992, Algeria signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and ratified it in June 1993, having participated in the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 25), which took place in Madrid (2-13 December 2019). The Green Economy Recovery Plan aims to encourage recycling and promote green processing industries by establishing tax incentives for industrial companies that commit to reducing the emission of gases and chemical waste. In the field of gas flaring, efforts have made it possible to reduce gas flaring by 500 million m³ during 2020-2021. Sonatrach Oil and Gas Group has signed the Zero Routine Flaring by 2030 initiative, launched in 2015 by the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the President of the World Bank Group, to end routine flaring by 2030. Recently, Algeria has set up a National Climate Plan 2020-2030 covering 155 projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, adapt to the negative impacts of climate change, and support climate governance. It has committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 7%, a rate that could rise to 22% by 2030 if it can receive support for significant projects to adapt to climate change. Algeria has adopted a program to convert vehicles to LPG while creating national structures to implement strategies for producing clean energy. It includes green hydrogen, and the revival of the Green Dam project with a view to its expansion to an area of 4.7 million hectares in the coming years is part of this strategy to fight against global warming.

3.- Algeria’s solidarity potential

But it is mainly thanks to its great solar potential (3000 hours) that Algeria is in an excellent position to produce electricity. Having an ambitious program for renewable energies to combine thermal for export and photovoltaic solar panels for the domestic market. In mid-July 2011, Algeria took delivery of the hybrid power plant at Hassi R’mel, with a total capacity of 150 MW, including 30 MW from the combination of gas and solar. This is an exciting experience. Combining 20% gas, cleaner than coal and oil, and 80% solar seems essential to reduce costs and master the technology. The Algerian program consists of installing a renewable power of nearly 22,000 MW by 2030/2035, of which 12,000 MW will be dedicated to covering national electricity demand and 10,000 MW for export. According to the Ministry of Energy, in 2030, the goal is to produce 40% of its electricity needs from renewable energies. The amount of public investment devoted by Algeria to the realization of its renewable energy development program by 2030 was initially set (between 2019/2020) at 60 billion dollars, requiring a national and international public-private partnership. Recently, the delegation led by the European Commissioner for Energy, visiting Algiers, committed to promoting investment in renewable energies and green hydrogen, the power of the future 2036/2040; this segment, in partnership with Algeria through interconnections, there is an opportunity to export to Europe. But other partnerships are possible, especially with China investing in these niches.

In conclusion, the irony of history, according to a recent UN 2022 report, in its worst projection, a warming of the temperature of the planet beyond 4 ° C under the title “threat to the Nile”, one of its jewels is threatened with disappearance where with the rise in sea level caused by global warming, 

The sea will rise by one meter, consequently engulfing a third of the very fertile land of the Nile Delta and historic cities; the coastal city of Alexandria could be underwater by 2050.” It also threatens all coasts of the world, including the Algerian coast. Peace in this region is essential for calmly addressing the strategic subject of global warming and, therefore, the irreversible energy transition that will change the world’s energy and economic power between 2025/2030/2040. However, with the war in Ukraine and the energy crisis, many countries have come to fall back on fossil fuels massively. Like most developing countries, Algeria is caught because air pollution is not their responsibility. the main culprits are the developed countries, China and Russia, and their commitments still need to be fulfilled under the second period of the Kyoto Protocol. It is the responsibility which lies primarily with the developed countries, significant polluters, with a catastrophic impact on developing countries, particularly in Africa where the commitments of COP 21 of the aid of 100 billion dollars have been very partially implemented. And the significant problem to be solved, a complicated equation, is to reconcile the legitimate development aspiration and the fight against global warming presupposing progressive adaptation strategies with the help of developed countries to achieve this transition. Let us hope this umpteenth meeting will propose concrete solutions to global warming.  

Dr Abderrahmane MEBTOULUniversity Professor, International Expert Doctor of State 1974 

Director of Studies Ministry of Industry and Energy 1974/1979-1990/1995-2000/2006-2013/2015 

Chairman of the Energy Transition Commission of 5+5+ Germany in June 2019

The above image is of the African Development Bank/Atlantic Council.


The Horn of Africa between droughts and groundwater supplies


The Horn of Africa, between droughts and groundwater supplies that are increasing – why? 

Michael Singer, Cardiff University; Katerina Michaelides, University of Bristol and Markus Adloff, Université de Berne, detailed answers worth reading.


The Horn of Africa has had years of drought, yet groundwater supplies are increasing – why?



The Horn of Africa – which includes Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya and some surrounding countries – has been hit by increasingly frequent and devastating droughts. Despite this, it seems the region has an increasing amount of groundwater. And this water could help support drought-stricken rural communities.

That’s the key finding from our new research, in which we discovered that while overall rainfall is decreasing, an increase in “high-intensity” rainfall has led to more water being stored deep underground. It’s a paradoxical finding, yet one that may help one of the world’s most vulnerable regions adapt to climate change.

In the Horn of Africa, rural communities live in a constant state of water scarcity punctuated by frequent periods of food insecurity. People there rely on the “long rains” between March and May and the “short rains” between October and December to support their lives and livelihoods.

As we write this, the region’s drylands are experiencing a fifth consecutive season of below-average rainfall. This has left 50 million people in acute food insecurity. The droughts have caused water shortages, livestock deaths, crop failures, conflict and even mental health challenges.

The drought is so severe that it is even affecting zebras, giraffes and other wildlife, as all surface waters are drying up and edible vegetation is becoming scarce. Worryingly, a sixth failed rainy season has already been predicted for March to May 2023.

Long rains down, short rains up

In a new paper we investigated changes in seasonal rainfall in the Horn of Africa over the past 30 years. We found the total rainfall within the “long rains” season is declining, perhaps related to the warming of a particular part of the Pacific Ocean. However, rainfall is increasing in the “short rains”. That’s largely due to a climate phenomenon known as the Indian Ocean Dipole, when a warmer-than-usual Indian Ocean produces higher rainfall in east Africa, similar to El Niño in the Pacific.

We then investigated what these rainfall trends mean for water stored below ground. Has it decreased in line with declining “long rains”, or risen due to the increasing “short rains”?

The Horn of Africa borders the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean.
Peter Hermes Furian / shutterstock

To do this we made use of a pair of satellites which orbit repeatedly and detect small changes in the Earth’s gravitational field that can be interpreted as changes in the mass of water storage. If there’s a significant increase in water storage underground, then the satellite will record a stronger gravity field at that location compared to the previous measurement, and vice versa. From this, the mass of water added or lost in that location can be determined.

Using these satellite-derived estimates, we found that water storage has been increasing in recent decades. The increase correlates with the increasing “short rains”, and has happened despite the “long rains” getting drier.

Given that the long rains deliver more seasonal rain than the short rains, we wanted to understand the paradoxical finding that underground water is increasing. A clue is given by examining how rainfall is converted into groundwater in drylands.

When rain is light and drizzly, much of the water that reaches the ground dampens the soil surface and soon evaporates back into the warm, dry atmosphere. To become groundwater, rainfall instead needs to be intense enough so that water will quickly infiltrate deep into the soil. This mostly happens when lots of rain falls at once and causes dry riverbeds to fill with water which can then leak into underground aquifers.

Heavy rains fill a dry river bed in the Somali region of Ethiopia.
Stanley Dullea / shutterstock

These most intense rainfall events are increasing in the “short rains”, in line with the overall increase in total rain in that season. And despite a decrease in overall rainfall in the “long rains”, intense rainfall has remained consistently high over time. This means that both rainy seasons have enough intense rainfall to increase the amount of water stored underground.

Finally, we demonstrated that the increasing water storage in this region is not connected to any rise in soil moisture near the surface. It therefore represents “banked” water that resides deep below ground and likely contributes to a growing regional groundwater aquifer in this region.

Groundwater can help people adapt to climate change

While early warning networks and humanitarian organisations focus on the urgent impacts of drought, our new research points to a silver lining that may support long-term climate adaptation. Those rising groundwater supplies we have identified may potentially be exploited to support people in rural areas whose food and water are increasingly insecure.

But there are some caveats. First, we have not assessed the depth of the available groundwater across the region, but we suggest that the water table is shallow enough to be affected by seasonal rainfall. This means it may also be shallow enough to support new bore holes to extract it. Second, we do not know anything about the quality of the stored groundwater and whether it can be deemed suitable for drinking. Finally, we do not know exactly what will happen if the most extreme droughts of the past few seasons continue and both long and short rains fail, causing intense rainfall to decrease too.

Nevertheless, our findings point to the need for extensive groundwater surveys across the Horn of Africa drylands to ascertain whether this increasing water resource may be viable enough to offset the devastating droughts. Groundwater could potentially irrigate fields and provide drinking water for humans and livestock, as part of a strategy to help this vulnerable region adapt to the effects of climate change.

Michael Singer, Professor in Physical Geography (Hydrology and Geomorphology), Cardiff University; Katerina Michaelides, Associate Professor, School of Geographical Sciences , University of Bristol, and Markus Adloff, PostDoctoral Researcher, Earth System Modelling, Université de Berne

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.



Can Climate Change Pledges Result in Action?


Can Climate Change pledges to result in action? Wonders Achref Chibani in the Arab Center Washington DC, ahead of the forthcoming COP27. 

It must be said that there is little time left to rein in climate-wrecking emissions by notably limiting global warming to 1.5C.  It is fast closing, per a recent UN report.


COP27 and the MENA Region: Can Climate Change Pledges Result in Action?


In November of this year, Egypt will host the annual United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27). While this is not the first time a COP has been held in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), as previous meetings have been held in Morocco in 2001 and 2016, and in Qatar in 2012, Egypt’s presidency over this year’s conference comes at a critical juncture. If the 2015 Paris Agreement commitment to limiting global warming to just 1.5℃ above preindustrial levels is to be met, it is of paramount importance that this year’s summit lead to global action. The COP27 meeting, which is to be followed next year by COP28 in the United Arab Emirates, also presents an opportunity for the MENA region to become a central player in global climate change diplomacy and a leader in climate change adaptation and mitigation.

But while climate change appears to be the new hot topic in the region, it is simultaneously being turned into an object of diplomatic and geopolitical competition. Although this is leading to striking climate change pledges and significant investment in climate mitigation projects, there has been little consideration for how climate change and its mitigation strategies impact ordinary Arab citizens. COP27 is bringing into focus a new climate change mitigation and adaptation regime in the region that is defined by top-down, elite-led projects that seek to capture and monopolize the benefits of climate change finance.

The Failures of COP26

COP26, which was held in Glasgow in 2021, was widely viewed as having failed to achieve its two chief aims: required commitments to limit global warming to 1.5℃ by 2030, and the end of the use of coal. While the Glasgow Climate Pact was not quite the death knell for the 2015 Paris Agreement, it failed to implement the sort of robust and binding commitments to fossil fuel reduction from developed nations that are necessary to ensure that temperatures are kept within the 1.5C threshold. Of particular note in this regard was the watering down of language around coal use from “phasing out” to “phasing down.”

COP26, which was held in Glasgow in 2021, was widely viewed as having failed to achieve its two chief aims: required commitments to limit global warming to 1.5℃ by 2030, and the end of the use of coal.

COP26 also produced little headway on climate finance. The Adaptation Fund—established in 2001 to help developing countries adapt to climate change—again failed to reach its target of channeling $100 billion in funds per year to developing countries. On top of this, while a concerted effort by island nations led to the recognition of their having suffered “loss and damage” from climate change, wealthier nations continue to block attempts to commit financial resources to pay for the impact of climate change. In short, while COP26 was heavy on pledges across a range of climate change issues, such pledges were rarely binding and revealed the difficulties in moving from pledges to commitments, and finally to actions.

The COP27 Agenda: An African COP?

Returning to the failures of COP26 makes plain the importance of COP27 and the necessity of turning the pledges that were made at previous summits into tangible climate change action. There are encouraging signs that an action-oriented summit is on the table, with a desire to make COP27 an “implementation COP,” with particular emphasis on climate finance, the “loss and damage” debate, adaptation, and the need for greater ambition. This has been backed up by Egypt’s presidency, which has made much of the need for implementation and action. For example, Ambassador Mohamed Nasr, Director of Environment and Sustainable Development at Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, noted at a press briefing that: “Current commitments are a floor and not a ceiling. More is needed if we are to deliver an effective response to protect people from climate change.” Meanwhile, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi has expressed his desire to advocate for the interests of African and other developing nations during climate negotiations, and has also stressed the need for climate finance directed toward the Global South.

COP27 has been framed as an “African COP,” although it remains unclear what this will look like in practice. There remain concerns that activists from across Africa will be prevented from attending the summit.

To this end, the summit has been framed as an “African COP,” although it remains unclear what this will look like in practice. There remain concerns that activists from across Africa will be prevented from attending the summit, and there is also a danger that talks will be dominated by a few regional climate change leaders such as Morocco, South Africa, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Nigeria—countries that also happen to account for the majority of the continent’s fossil fuel emissions—and will most likely marginalize more vulnerable states sitting at the COP table.

Climate Change in the MENA Region: Competition and Diplomacy

Historically, the MENA region has been a relatively small player at the global climate change diplomacy table, with its politicians and governments often downplaying the effects of climate change. However, many governments in the region have recently pivoted towards climate change as a central area of policy implementation and the region’s elites are increasingly interested in the investment opportunities represented by green finance. A number of countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain, have now committed to reaching net zero emissions within the next 25 to 40 years. And Qatar, Morocco, Tunisia, Lebanon, and Jordan have all strengthened their 2030 greenhouse gas emission reduction pledges.

It is important to stress that the region does not represent a united bloc when it comes to climate change, and that there are important intra-region differences in climate change strategy and interests that have become more substantial in recent years. In broad terms, the region can be split between “high-ambition, high-emission” countries (the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council) and “low-ambition, low-emission” countries (North Africa and the Levant). Further nuancing this picture, in recent years—and especially since the start of the war in Ukraine—the ambitions of “low ambition” countries have notably increased, even though there remain clear distinctions between high and low emission states.

The MENA region can be split between “high-ambition, high-emission” countries (the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council) and “low-ambition, low-emission” countries (North Africa and the Levant).

For example, Egypt has developed international electricity connections, with both a 2-GW Euro-Africa interconnector transporting electricity to Europe and a recent connection with Sudan. This has worked to strengthen Egypt’s position as the key transit hub for pipelines, electricity grids, and shipping in the Eastern Mediterranean, and has helped the country attract further investment in both renewable and non-renewable power generation.

Egypt represents a broader trend of European states looking to the MENA region to bolster Europe’s energy security. MoroccoAlgeria, and Tunisia have all been touted as alternatives to Russian energy, with the Sahara potentially offering a source of clean, reliable solar energy on Europe’s doorstep. The COP27 summit thus comes at a time of intense intra-regional competition, as states seek to capture a market share of the green economy and to develop economic, diplomatic, and security partnerships with Europe and the West.

Egypt’s Green Transition: A Top-down Approach

Regarding Egypt’s own green transition, President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi has stressed a “green growth” approach to transition, relying on the private sector as the motor for the country’s transition, and emphasizing the transfer of financial and technological assistance to developing countries. For example, Egypt was the first government in the region to issue sovereign green bonds, raising $750 million for clean public transport and sustainable water management. Moreover, Egypt aims to turn the Suez Canal Economic Zone into a global hub for the production of green hydrogen and ammonia, with the Egyptian government hoping to sign around $25 billion in green energy deals during the COP27 summit.

Egypt also has ambitious plans to intervene in the country’s ecosystems, with plans to “regreen” the Sinai Peninsula, restoring the biosphere and thus changing hydrological cycles in the region. According to Dutch firm the Weather Makers, which is managing the project, restoring vegetation to the Sinai will reduce the amount of moisture lost at this junction between the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean, and will thus increase rainfall across the MENA region.

It is worth noting that the Egyptian military has being fighting an insurgency in the Sinai since 2011, and any project there would likely require the close involvement of the military, and could be used as a pretext for further evictions of local communities. Both the regreening of the Sinai and the development of the Suez Canal Economic Zone reveal Egypt’s preference for large-scale projects that bring together the various coalitions of the Egyptian bureaucracy, business leaders, the military, and global capital that have historically dominated the country’s development projects.

Egypt’s climate record remains poor, and it consistently avoids making binding carbon reduction commitments and providing long-term decarbonization plans.

Despite such dramatic megaprojects, Egypt’s climate record remains poor, and it consistently avoids making binding carbon reduction commitments and providing long-term decarbonization plans. Climate Action Tracker, for example, rates Egypt’s climate change policies as “highly insufficient.” Moreover, there are signs that Egypt wishes to pursue a gas-fueled energy transition. Egypt is Africa’s second largest gas producer, and following the recent discovery of offshore natural gas reserves it has become a net energy exporter in the form of liquefied natural gas (LNG). Although LNG is greener than coal and oil, it still causes dangerous methane emissions and hinders the transition toward a zero-emission future. All of these projects display a preference for top-down climate change adaptation and suggest a trend toward the monopolization of climate change finance by a political and military elite who have little regard for how such projects will impact ordinary Egyptians.

Other Paths to Net Zero?

In both Egypt and the wider region, a picture is beginning to emerge of elite-led green growth. Projects such as the Suez Canal Economic Zone and the use of the COP as a means to attract foreign green investment together suggest a move toward capital-intensive green transitions in the region. COP27 and the language of national climate change commitments and technocratic interventions complement and reinforce this top-down approach to green transition. It remains to be seen whether such an approach will produce the kind of greenhouse gas reductions that are necessary if Paris Agreement targets are to be met.

The summit, however, also offers an opportunity for Arab activists and civil society actors to offer counternarratives that demonstrate other paths to reach net zero. But it is important that this opportunity is seized. COP27 presents an opportunity to change perceptions of climate change among Arab citizens and to enrich current debates on the environment within the region. The seventh round of the Arab Barometer public opinion poll revealed that while there is wide support for increased governmental action in response to climate change, perceptions regarding human effects on the environment are primarily viewed in terms of water and waste management.

COP27 offers an opportunity for Arab activists and civil society actors to offer counternarratives that demonstrate other paths to reach net zero. But it is important that this opportunity is seized.

This limited understanding of climate change among Arab citizens is a reflection of poor climate change education in the region, and of an understandable tendency to view climate change through the lens of immediate everyday experiences and needs. During the summit, Arab climate activists, journalists, civil society actors and politicians should work to paint a broader and more holistic picture of climate change, discussing how water shortages and waste management practices must be understood in terms of broader human-environment interactions. This should include public information campaigns around agricultural techniques and food security, air quality and pollution, and energy use.

Worrying Signs

At the global level, it is vital that COP27 become the conference where a robust agreement to limit warming to 1.5℃ is finally achieved. And any such agreement must include an awareness of the need for the green transition to first benefit the countries of the Global South. It is therefore promising that Egypt is calling for an “implementation COP” that prioritizes Africa during discussions. At the regional level, the summit offers an opportunity to foreground both the severe climate vulnerability of MENA countries and the fact that mitigation and adaptation must account for intra-region differences in technological advancements and oil wealth.

Finally, there are worrying signs that regional elites are directing the climate change narrative in the region, and using green transitions to their own benefit. Most notably, COP27 is being used by the Egyptian government to advocate for its private sector-led approach to green growth. It is of utmost importance that room be made for civil society actors to critique, question, and offer alternatives to this limited picture of green transition.

ACHREF CHIBANI, Tunisian journalist

Gaps in Countries’ Plans to Tackle Climate Change


‘Massive gaps’ seen in countries’ plans to tackle climate change -study

Timothy Gardner covers the most significant Gaps in Countries’ Plans to Tackle Climate Change in this post.

The above image is Reuters’ China’s giant state-owned companies struggle to align climate rhetoric with reality

Smoke and steam billows from Belchatow Power Station, Europe’s largest coal-fired power plant operated by PGE Group, near Belchatow, Poland November 28, 2018. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/File Photo

WASHINGTON, Oct 19 (Reuters) – The latest pledges by countries to tackle global warming under the Paris Agreement are “woefully inadequate” to avert a rise in global temperatures that scientists say will worsen droughts, storms and floods, a report said on Wednesday.

The 2015 pact launched at a U.N. global climate summit requires 194 countries to detail their plans to fight climate change in what are known as nationally determined contributions, or NDCs.

In pledges made through September, the NDCs would reduce global emissions of greenhouse gases only 7% from 2019 levels by 2030, said the report titled “The State of NDCs: 2022.” It was written by the World Resources Institute (WRI) global nonprofit research group.

Countries must strengthen their targets by about six times that, or at least 43%, to align with what the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says is enough to reach the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting the global temperature rise by 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees F), it said.

“It really looks like we’re hitting a bit of a plateau,” Taryn Fransen, a senior fellow at WRI and author of the report said in an interview. She added that the COVID-19 pandemic and economic woes may have mostly capped countries’ ambitions to boost their NDCs since 2021.

Current NDCs propose to reduce emissions by 5.5 gigatonnes compared with the initial NDCs from 2015, nearly equal to eliminating the annual emissions of the United States. But only 10% of that planned reduction has been pledged since 2021.

On the bright side, Australia and Indonesia did boost their NDCs this year. “That got us some progress,” Fransen said, “but there hasn’t been a lot beyond that.” Countries in the Paris Agreement are required to update their NDCs by 2025.

“If the pace of improvement from 2016 to today continues, the world will not only miss the Paris Agreement goals, but it will miss them by a long shot,” the report said.

Much of the focus of this year’s global climate talks, to be held next month in Egypt, will center on reducing emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas far more potent than carbon dioxide during its first 20 years in the atmosphere. In an example of the work yet to be done, WRI found that only 15 of the 119 countries that signed a Global Methane Pledge launched last year included a specific, quantified methane reduction target in their NDCs.

Fransen said economic and health benefits of reducing emissions, such as the build-out of the energy transition and reduced air pollution, can help build momentum to deeper cuts. “Seeing those benefits can only help drive more ambitions, but it is a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem,” she said.

Reporting by Timothy Gardner in Washington Editing by Matthew Lewis

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