Decarbonization, methane and record highs: 5 major things that happened at COP27 today

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Decarbonization was the theme of the day at COP27 in Egypt.

It also saw the arrival of US President Joe Biden at the climate summit, further protests within the conference and revelations about methane emissions.

So what happened on day six of COP27?

1. Emissions from fossil fuels will hit a record high in 2022

emissions from fossil fuels reach a record high in 2022 and show no signs of decreasing, according to an analysis by the Global Carbon Project.

Though they declined in 2019 due to COVID, the study, which included 100 scientists from 80 institutions, says they will rise “slightly above” pre-pandemic levels this year.

Emissions from burning fossil fuels will reach 40.6 billion tonnes in 2022, a 1 percent increase from the previous year.

This gives us a 50% chance that global warming will exceed 1.5°C over the next nine years.

“This is the confluence of two factors, the continuation of the post-COVID recovery and the energy crisis [sparked by the Ukraine war]’ Glen Peters, one of the report’s authors, told AFP.

The outlook for major issuers was mixed, according to the report. Emissions are expected to fall in China and the EU, but rise in the US and India.

2. Women in the Global South should be “leaders, not victims”.

More than 40 grassroots organizations in Asia, Africa and Latin America have formed an alliance to urge governments to increase climate funding for local women’s movements.

They say these movements — based in indigenous communities and developing countries — are often “invisible” to funders.

And even when governments have provided funds, they often don’t end up where they’re most needed.

“Even when funding reaches indigenous, Afro-descendent and local women’s organizations, it is typically insufficient and short-term,” warns Omaira Bolaños, director of Latin America and gender equity programs at the Rights and Resources Initiative.

It’s a blind spot in global climate finance, activists claim, and one they want to fix.

3. Joe Biden takes the stage at COP27

After missing the start of the climate conference due to the US midterm elections, President Joe Biden addressed the COP27 today.

He spoke about climate commitments against the background of the Ukraine war.

“Russia’s war only reinforces the urgency of the need to rid the world of its dependence on fossil fuels,” Biden said in a conference hall packed to the brim with attendees.

He also apologized for the US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, stating that rejoining would be one of his first acts after being elected president.

Biden listed US commitments, from plans to “launch a new era of clean energy and economic growth” to forest protection and a fund to help Egypt’s clean energy transition.

“Today I can take office as President of the United States and say with confidence that we will achieve our emissions reduction goals by 2030,” he said.

Several protesters stood up, cheered and gave a sign during his speech, but were quickly removed by security forces.

4. Global emitters aim to warm methane emissions

Biden also mentioned the urgent need to curb methane emissions. He referred to the Global Methane Pledge, a pledge by more than 120 countries to reduce methane emissions by 30 percent by 2030.

“Reducing methane by at least 30 percent by 2030 may be our best chance of reaching the 1.5 degree target,” he said.

It comes as the United Nations environmental watchdog announced its launch on Friday a public database of global methane leaks detected by space satellites.

This greenhouse gas has a much greater warming effect than carbon dioxide during its short lifetime in the environment. Scientists say it’s responsible for about a quarter of global warming so far.

The satellite system will detect methane leaks around the world and identify the responsible company or government. The information is then shared with those responsible in the hope that they will find and fix the leak.

If not, UNEP’s International Methane Emissions Observatory will share the information with a public database.

US special envoy for climate change John Kerry said this new alert and response system is a “critical tool to help us all meet the Global Methane Pledge.”

5. Success at COP27 looks like loss and damage to vulnerable nations

loss and damage continues to be the litmus test of a successful COP27 for developing countries and climate justice activists.

A presentation at the Pakistan Pavilion this afternoon with Sherry Rehman, the country’s climate minister, made it clear why.

Visit Pakistan for yourself and you will see, she said, “what happens when climate Armageddon hits your doorstep.”

Putting Loss and Damage – the crucial but elusive fund that would compensate climate-damaged countries and help rebuild – on the agenda is a major breakthrough, said Dr. Saleemul Huq.

The tireless Director of ICCCAD also addressed the panel entitled “The Broken Bargain between the North and the South” and acknowledged that progress on this front will inevitably be incremental as the negotiations progress.

But the success of this summit could be “as simple as that, one sentence: We agree to establish the Sharm El Sheikh Loss and Damage Facility”.

Getting there will require careful diplomacy, Rehman said. Despite repeatedly describing the toll of the recent record-breaking floods in her country, Pakistan’s top climate official has been reluctant to make any demands “Climate Reparation.”

The term has predictably divided countries, and she declared: “We shouldn’t be adversarial because that will derail the COP process. It is the only multilateral [forum] we have.”

“I would be the climate hero of the decade if I demanded reparations,” she added, “but what service would it do my country?”

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