The United Nations Climate Change Conference is currently underway, having started on 6th November and concluding on 18th November. The conference this year is taking place in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. The UNFCCC secretariat (UN Climate Change) is the United Nations body tasked with developing a strong global response to the threat that is posed by climate change. It has a specific focus on keeping, as close as possible, global temperatures to a maximum of 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Breaching the 1.5C threshold risks unleashing the worst consequences of global warming. Already the world’s temperatures have risen 1.1 degrees above pre-industrial levels, which will cause economic issues and extreme weather.
With regard to economic impacts – climate change is already causing issues. In 2021 alone, weather and water-related hazards in Asia have caused almost $36bn of damage, impacting almost 50 million people. This will only get worse and impact more countries as time passes.
Struggling to turn commitments into actions:
It’s been reported that many world leaders are struggling to turn commitments made at Cop 26 last year into actions. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has made things somewhat clouded – at least according to some. Numerous countries have said energy security takes precedence over commitments made the year before, for now, at least, before this invasion caused additional and unforeseen problems.
In May, G7 countries committed to reaching “predominantly decarbonised electricity sectors” by the year 2035. However, discussions on coal power stations could now take an unfortunate turn due to the energy security issues from the Russian invasion, which are expected to increase coal demand in the next few years. China currently accounts for half the world’s production and consumption of coal. Not all countries cite the Russian invasion as a problematic issue. The Czech Republic, for example, is expecting to continue its coal phase-out timeline by 2033, despite setbacks by the current energy crisis.
Alok Sharma has been quoted as saying this COP could be the one where we lose 1.5C – meaning the world is probably not going to keep global warming temperatures to a maximum of 1.5C. “We’ll either leave Egypt having kept 1.5C alive or this will be the Cop where we lose 1.5C.”
Even if global temperatures rise to 1.5C it’s still going to have dramatic impact on humanity. We are currently at 1.1C above pre-industrial levels.
The clock is ticking….