Nov. 29—The 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference that ended last week in Egypt, brought mostly disappointing results.
One piece of progress — rich countries agreeing to establish a global fund to compensate poor nations for climate change damage they are suffering — was something long sought by poor nations.
Creating the fund is morally the right thing to do. Countries like the United States, China and European nations put out the large majority of greenhouse gasses. Those emissions have been a key to making the wealthiest nations wealthy.
The resulting warming climate and rising sea levels have created the most devastation for the poorest nations, which can’t afford to do the things necessary to offset the impact of climate change.
Beyond the moral aspect, creating such a fund is in the best interest of wealthy countries. If the poorest nations are plagued with rising coastal waters, weather-spawned food shortages and other problems, instability will mount, leading to more migration and more wars.
There was also a bright spot at the conference in that for the first time attending countries agreed that “safeguarding food security and ending hunger” must be a priority. The agreement notes that secure food and water systems must be conserved and protected in order for poor countries to protect themselves from climate change.
Beyond creation of the “loss and damage” fund and recognition of food and water security, the climate conference failed to gain any major agreements on cutting carbon emissions. Many blamed the global energy crisis sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine for the lack of agreement to seriously cut fossil fuel use.
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 requires “rapid, deep and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions” by 2030.
But those at the climate conference seeking commitments from countries to phase out fossil fuels were rejected by oil-producing countries.
Many climate researchers have grown dismayed that the climate conferences have become less about countries committing to stronger fossil fuel reduction plans and instead have become a place for leaders to offer grand speeches but failing to secure agreements on the tough issues.
In all, the climate conference did not offer a lot of optimism moving forward, as climate change continues to show its devastating effects on all of us.