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Reducing carbon emissions that cause climate change is possibly the struggle of our lifetime. Telling developing nations that they can’t use fossil fuels to grow their economies is unfair and unrealistic, however, as Time magazine explained. Developed nations in North America, Europe and elsewhere have used coal, oil and gas to dominate the globe over the past 200 years, for example. Carbon and economic growth go hand in hand.
So when world leaders recently met in Egypt at the United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP27) and decided to subsidize poorer countries struggling with climate change-related issues, many hailed the agreement as a breakthrough, reported USA Today.
Others weren’t quite as sanguine. The goal is to cut emissions, they argued, not paper over the damage that emissions wreak with cash payments to poor nations.
“The loss and damage deal agreed is a positive step but it risks becoming a ‘fund for the end of the world’ if countries don’t move faster to slash emissions,” Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, the climate lead for the World Wide Fund for Nature, told the New York Times. “We cannot afford to have another climate summit like this one.”
European diplomats were especially disappointed. They supported helping poorer nations with the effects of climate change – but they feared the deal was akin to dealing with the symptoms of a disease and not the root cause, Euronews reported. They wanted big cuts in emissions from China, India and other massive, growing economies but failed to secure them, a Guardian analysis explained.
Delegates to COP27 didn’t secure a deal to reduce emissions worldwide, phase out coal or cut other fossil fuels, Foreign Policy magazine wrote.
Meanwhile, analysts say that slow international progress to cut greenhouse gases is making it unlikely that the world will prevent global temperatures from rising by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial temperatures, Vox noted, the goal hammered out at prior climate conferences. More powerful storms, worse droughts, hotter summers, colder winters and other problems are expected to worsen.
Emissions must drop by 45 percent from current levels by 2030 in order to limit global warming at that level, the United Nations says. Investments in clean energy must triple to $4 trillion in the next seven years to hit that target, according to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Could the private sector generate the money necessary to hit those targets? That was the thinking in the past. But now, investors are pulling their money out of environmental, social and governance projects that aim to combat climate change, a Reuters analysis concluded.
Money can’t buy everything. At COP27, it bought goodwill, but little else.