Wednesday, November 9, 2022

COP27 Opens in Egypt

 This week the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP27) opened its meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. The conference will run until November 18th 2022. The prospects for significant progress appear dim.

If you recall, in December 2015 at the 21st Conference of the Parties in Paris, Delegates from 196 countries reached an agreement that we all hoped put the nations on a course to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the combustion of fossil fuel.

Under the Paris Agreement, every country agreed to work together to limit global warming to “well below 2 degrees” and aim for 1.5 degrees, to adapt to the impacts of a changing climate and to make money available to deliver on these aims to countries not able to afford the costs of adapting to a changing climate. The parties to the agreement committed to create national plans setting out how much they would reduce their emissions called Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC). Furthermore, they agreed that every five years they would come back with an updated plan that would reflect their highest possible ambition at that time.

The Covid-19  pandemic forced the delay of the COP 26 meeting and it was held last year in Glasgow, Scotland. However, only a limited number of countries and political organizations including the European Union, Japan, the UK and the United States submitted strengthened NDCs ahead of the Glasgow meeting.  Only 23 countries have submitted updated NDCs by the deadline for this meeting and that list includes only one major economy, Australia. Their NDCs now bring them in line with their peers.

The United States (by executive order and administrative action) has set a goal to reach 100% carbon-free electricity by 2035 and net zero emissions throughout the economy by 2050. The problem is that the reduction in emissions pledged so far are nowhere near sufficient to hold temperature change to 2 degrees Celsius according to the climate models. China in 2021 is the largest CO2 emitter at about 30% of the total- dwarfing the United States at 14%. China has only agreed to stop growing their CO2 emissions by 2030. The goals of the Paris Agreement cannot be met without reductions in China and the other nations still growing their emissions. Egypt's NDC submitted this year would increase their CO2 emissions 50% by 2030. 

Sadly, CO2 emissions from fuel have continued to grow year after year with the exceptions of a brief respite during the global financial crisis and the Covid-19 lockdowns. Now, European Countries have been buying coal to use for electricity generation to replace the natural gas unavailable due to the war in Ukraine, China is finally showing signs of opening up their economy and CO2 emissions are expected to resume their climb. Coal plants that were scheduled to shut down will continue to operate and several recently shut down coal fired turbines have be restarted. Coal fired electricity generation emits about twice the CO2 as natural gas. 

Prior to the Paris Agreement the world was heading for a 3.6 degree Celsius warming. The policies in place today would lead to a warming of about 2.7 degrees Celsius by 2100. If countries fully implement their NDC’s it would be around 2.4 degrees Celsius by 2100. The increase in extreme weather promised by the climate models appears to be in our future. 

No comments:

Post a Comment