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Egypt's COP27 climate summit a 'watershed moment'
By Marlowe HOOD, Marlowe Hood with Amelie Bottollier-Depois at the United Nations
Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt (AFP) Nov 4, 2022

S.Africa to press rich nations for more money at COP27
Johannesburg (AFP) Nov 4, 2022 - South Africa needs much more money to green its economy than what rich nations have promised so far, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Friday, ahead of a key global climate summit.

Ramaphosa is due to travel to Egypt in the coming days to attend the COP27 meeting, where funding for Africa's green transition is likely to be a flashpoint.

Last year, South Africa, the continent's most industrialised economy, secured $8.5 billion in loans and grants from a group of rich countries.

But Ramaphosa said the money was not enough, with a just transition investment plan released on Friday suggesting Pretoria will need about 1.5 trillion rand ($83 billion) over the next five years.

His comments come after the World Bank earlier this week said South Africa would need around $500 billion by 2050 to achieve carbon neutrality.

"We need much greater funding than what has been put on the table," Ramaphosa told an online sitting of the Presidential Climate Commission.

"And in going to COP27, that's precisely the message that we will be taking forward."

Ramaphosa said South Africa was working with international partners to find additional funding, adding that some already said they are willing to make new proposals.

The president said he has stressed the need to increase the share of grants to avoid adding to the country's already heavy debt burden in talks with other leaders.

"The key challenge for South Africa and our sister countries on the continent is access to new, at scale and predictable funding that does not further exacerbate our debt crises," he said.

Key areas in need of investment included the electricity and the green hydrogen sectors, as well as initiatives to ensure a just transition, Ramaphosa said.

- 'Hold developed economies accountable' -

South Africa, one of the world's top 12 largest polluters, generates about 80 percent of its electricity through coal.

The World Bank on Friday said the country has been granted financing of $497 million to decommission one of its largest coal-fired power plants and convert it to renewable energy.

Leaders of a divided world meet in the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh this month tasked with taming the terrifying juggernaut of global warming as they face gale-force geopolitical crosswinds, including the war in Ukraine and economic turmoil.

UN chief Antonio Guterres said Thursday it was time for a "historic pact" between developed and emerging countries, with richer nations providing financial and technical assistance to help poorer ones speed up their renewable energy transitions.

On Friday, Ramaphosa criticised Western nations, saying some were re-opening old coal-fired plants and tilting back towards fossil fuels in the wake of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, having told the world to move away from such sources.

Meanwhile, commitments to make $100 billion per year available to help developing countries decarbonise and adapt to climate change have not been fulfilled, Ramaphosa added.

"We have an obligation to hold developed economies accountable by making sure that they do honour the financial commitments that they undertook," he said.

Leaders buffeted by the geopolitical crosswinds or war and economic turmoil meet in Egypt Monday at a climate summit tasked with taming the terrifying juggernaut of global warming.

Expectations are running high in a world justifiably anxious about its climate-addled future as deadly floods, heat waves and storms across the planet track with worst-case climate scenarios.

The November 6-18 gathering of nearly 200 nations in Sharm el-Sheikh will be dominated by the growing need of virtually blameless poor nations for money to cope not just with future impacts, but those already claiming lives and devastating economies.

Without a "historic pact" bridging the North-South divide, "we will be doomed, because we need to reduce emissions, both in the developed countries and emerging economies," UN chief Antonio Guterres said Thursday.

Last week the UN warned that "there is no credible pathway in place" for capping the rise in global temperatures under the Paris Agreement target of 1.5 degrees Celsius.

While worst-case projections are less dire than a decade ago, current policies would still see Earth's surface warm a catastrophic 2.8C, and no less than 2.4C even if countries meet all their carbon-cutting pledges under the Paris treaty.

"There have been fraught moments before," said E3G think tank senior analyst Alden Meyer, recalling other wars, the near collapse of the UN-led process in 2009, and Donald Trump yanking the United States out of the Paris Agreement in 2016.

"But this is a perfect storm," dubbed by some a "polycrisis", said the 30-year veteran of the climate arena.

Casting an even longer shadow on negotiations in Egypt than Russia's invasion of Ukraine, many experts say, is the further erosion of Sino-US relations, which in the past have anchored breakthroughs in climate diplomacy, including the Paris Agreement.

- 'Watershed moment' -

But a Taiwan visit in August by US congressional leader Nancy Pelosi prompted Beijing to shut down bilateral climate channels. Sweeping restrictions imposed last month by the Biden administration on the sale of high-level chip technology to China deepened the rift.

"We are at a watershed moment," said Li Shuo, a Beijing-based policy analyst with Greenpeace International.

"If the politics are so bad that the world's two biggest emitters won't talk to each other, we're not going to get to 1.5C."

A bilateral meeting between US President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping during the G20 summit in Bali days before the talks in Egypt close, should it happen, could move the dial, Li observed.

"That dynamic would play back to Sharm el-Sheikh."

Biden will arrive in Egypt touting the landmark Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which earmarks nearly $400 billion -- and potentially twice that amount -- to speed the greening of the US economy.

But legislative elections on November 8 could dampen US bragging rights if Republicans hostile to international climate action take either or both houses of Congress.

A bright spot at COP27 will be the arrival of incoming Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who has vowed to aim for zero deforestation in the Amazon, reversing the extractive policies of Jair Bolsonaro, who will step down on January 1.

- Money matters -

COP27 will arguably boil down to a trio of interlocking priorities: emissions, accountability and money.

The creation of a separate pool of capital for "loss and damage" -- UN climate lingo for unavoidable and irreversible climate damages -- could be a make-or-break issue.

"This discussion has been going on for three decades," UN climate change chief Simon Stiell told journalists Friday. "The most vulnerable countries are tired, they are frustrated."

The US and the European Union -- fearful of open-ended reparations -- have dragged their feet on this issue for years and question the need for a separate financial framework.

"The success or failure of COP27 will be judged on the basis of whether there is agreement on a financing facility for loss and damage," Munir Akram, Pakistan's UN ambassador and chair of the powerful G77+China negotiating bloc of more than 130 developing nations, told AFP.

Rich nations will also be expected to set a timetable for the delivery of $100 billion per year to help developing countries green their economies and build resilience against future climate change.

The promise is already two years past due and remains $17 billion short, according to the OECD.

Last year's COP26 in Glasgow prioritised reducing carbon pollution, mostly through sideline agreements orchestrated by host Britain to curb methane emissions, halt deforestation, phase out fossil fuel subsidies and ramp up the transition to renewable energy.

Nations agreed to review their carbon-cutting pledges annually and not just every five years, though only a handful of nations have done so in 2022.

Guterres, meanwhile, will unveil a critical assessment of "net-zero" commitments by companies, investors and local governments to become carbon neutral.

"Our world cannot afford any more greenwashing, fake movers or late movers," he said last week.

Related Links
Climate Science News - Modeling, Mitigation Adaptation

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Kerry sees Brazil, Mexico rising climate hopes ahead of summit
Washington (AFP) Nov 2, 2022
US climate envoy John Kerry said Wednesday he expects bold new action by Mexico and Brazil's next government, raising hopes of achieving progress at this month's global warming summit in Egypt. Kerry also gave his firmest indication yet that the United States was willing to engage on compensating poor nations that have already been hit hard by climate change, set to be a major agenda item at the talks known as COP27. In Brazil, where the Amazon plays a vital role counteracting the planet's carbo ... read more

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