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At COP27, US Says Election Won’t Disrupt Climate Plan

Channels Television  
Updated November 8, 2022
US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry speaks at the opening of the US Pavilion during the COP27 climate conference at the Sharm el-Sheikh International Convention Centre, in Egypt's Red Sea resort city of the same name, on November 8, 2022. (Photo by AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)
US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry speaks at the opening of the US Pavilion during the COP27 climate conference at the Sharm el-Sheikh International Convention Centre, in Egypt’s Red Sea resort city of the same name, on November 8, 2022. (Photo by AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)

 

The United States sought to reassure the UN climate summit in Egypt on Tuesday that it will stick to its energy transition even if Republicans triumph in midterm elections.

The COP27 talks have been dominated by calls for wealthier nations to step up their commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions, while fulfilling pledges to financially help poorer nations green their economies and build resilience.

Developing nations devastated by natural disasters demanded that rich polluters compensate them for the damage caused by their emissions, with calls for a windfall tax on the profits of oil companies to help pay.

But stiff international criticism of Egypt’s treatment of a hunger-striking activist Alaa Abdel Fattah and the US midterm election also loomed large over the summit.

US President Joe Biden’s Democrats face a tough battle to hang on to their majority in Congress against Republicans, who are less favourable to international climate action.

A Republican victory could be a boon to the ambitions of former president Donald Trump, who is expected to make another bid for the White House.

Trump had pulled the United States out of the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change. Biden returned the United States — the second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases after China — to the pact on his first day in office in 2020.

Biden won a major victory earlier this year when Congress passed the “Inflation Reduction Act”, which will see vast spending on green energy initiatives.

‘More determined than ever’

The “climate crisis doesn’t just threaten our infrastructure, economy and security — it threatens every single aspect of our lives on a daily basis,” US climate envoy John Kerry said on the sidelines of the summit, in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

He said that even if Democrats lose the election, “President Biden is more determined than ever to continue what we are doing.”

“And most of what we are doing cannot be changed by anybody else who comes along,” Kerry said. “The marketplace has made its decision to do what we need to do to respond to the climate crisis.”

Some 100 world leaders were attending the summit on Monday and Tuesday, but Biden will only come on Friday after the midterms.

The first day of the summit was marked by dire warnings from UN chief Antonio Guterres, who told the COP27 that humanity faces a stark choice: “cooperate or perish”.

Nations worldwide are coping with increasingly intense natural disasters that have taken thousands of lives this year and cost billions of dollars.

They range from devastating floods in Nigeria and Pakistan to droughts in the United States and several African nations, as well as unprecedented heatwaves across three continents.

The world is “burning up faster than our capacity for recovery,” Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif told fellow leaders.

‘Planet is burning’

Countries are under pressure to step up efforts to reduce emissions, in order to meet the most ambitious Paris Agreement goal of preventing temperatures from rising by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial era.

A UN-backed report said Tuesday that developing countries and emerging economies, excluding China, need investments well beyond $2 trillion per year by 2030 if the world is to stop the global warming juggernaut and cope with its impacts.

One after the other, leaders of developing nations called for the establishment of a “loss and damage” fund that would compensate them for the here-and-now destruction caused by natural disasters, arguing that rich nations are responsible for the biggest share of planet-heating emissions.

Sharif said the recent floods in Pakistan had cost his country more than $30 billion in loss and damage.

“This all happened despite our very low carbon footprint, and yet we became a victim of something with which we have nothing to do and of course it was a man-made disaster,” Sharif said.

With his country having to spend billions to feed its people and protect them from floods, he asked: “How on earth can one expect from us that we will undertake this gigantic task on our own?”

Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne — speaking on behalf of a group of small island nations endangered by rising sea levels and tropical storms — said it was time to tax the windfall profits of oil companies to pay for loss and damage.

“While they are profiting, the planet is burning,” Browne said.

AFP