Environment Climate conference largely disappointing

November 29 — The 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference, which concluded last week in Egypt, produced largely disappointing results.

One breakthrough – rich countries agreed to set up a global fund to compensate poor nations for climate change damage – was something poor nations had long sought.

Creating the fund is the morally right thing to do. Countries like the United States, China, and European nations emit the vast majority of greenhouse gases. These emissions were key to enriching the richest nations.

The resulting climate warming and sea-level rise have created the greatest devastation for the poorest nations, which cannot afford to do the necessary things to offset the impacts of climate change.

Beyond the moral aspect, the creation of such a fund is in the interest of rich countries. If the poorest nations are affected by rising coastal waters, food shortages caused by weather and other problems, instability will increase, leading to more migration and more wars.

There was also a bright spot at the conference in that, for the first time, participating countries agreed that “protecting food security and ending hunger” must be a priority. The agreement states that safe food and water systems must be preserved and protected for poor countries to protect themselves from climate change.

Beyond the creation of the “loss and damage” fund and the recognition of food and water security, the climate conference failed to achieve any major agreement on reducing carbon emissions. Many have blamed the global energy crisis triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine for the lack of an agreement to seriously reduce fossil fuel consumption.

And the conference ended with a 10-page summary document that was dire, saying that limiting global warming to 1.5 Celsius above pre-industrial levels required “rapid, deep and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions” by 2030.

But those at the climate conference who called for commitments from countries to phase out fossil fuels were rejected by oil-producing countries.

Many climate researchers have become dismayed that climate conferences have become less about committing countries to stronger plans to cut fossil fuels and instead become a place for leaders to make grand speeches but have no managed to secure agreements on difficult issues.

All in all, the climate conference did not offer much optimism going forward as climate change continues to take its devastating toll on us all.

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