Right now, world leaders are gathering in Egypt for the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Summit, also known as COP27. Delegates are expected to release an agreement outlining action to combat climate change, but some fear the goal of minimizing global temperature rise is slipping.
In his speech at the conference, President Joe Biden called for more aggressive action on climate change and called the US a leader in reducing carbon emissions, but made no mention of the climate change offset that developing countries say is needed to help them mitigate the worst consequences of climate change.
Matt Smith, Lead Americas Oil Analyst at Keplr, spoke to the Standard about some of the key themes from this year’s conference. Listen to the story above or read the transcript below.
This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity:
Texas Standard: Well, tell us what you know about the COP27 meeting on climate change that’s taking place right now. Main theme or through line this year?
Matt Smith: Well, first of all, COP27 stands for Conference of the Parties. It’s a little “COP”. And then, this is an annual event, and this is already the 27th. Thus, we get “COP27”. But essentially, this is where the United Nations comes together to focus and try to agree on collective action to address climate change here. You know, obviously a lot of people chipped in on this. President Biden spoke to us last week. He called for the ambition to be revitalized here because we are simply not getting the level of commitment that we need. What he said we should try to avoid was “climate hell,” a term coined by the UN Secretary-General early last week. But in terms of just the US and its efforts, you know, Biden singled out the Inflation Reduction Act that the legislation is targeting… Well, $370 billion thrown into climate and clean energy policy in a US attempt to try to cut emissions by 40% . there. But he also announced some new initiatives related to US efforts to reduce methane emissions. Thus, the US is pushing its own agenda and emphasizing that it is trying to do as much as possible.
Well, now, as I understand it, some of the less developed countries are pointing the finger at the United States, Europe and others, saying, “Wait a minute, we will bear the brunt of the impact of this caused by the more developed countries.” “. I mean, that was something that seems to be the theme this year.
It’s always a theme, right? Because developed countries consume the most electricity. And then those countries and regions that don’t consume that much, you know, feel like they’re being accused of using coal, using fossil fuels, etc. India, which is really pushing for a phase-out of all fossil fuels. And the focus has only been on coal, but they are pushing for a collective effort against these fossil fuels even closer to home. You know, you have Mexico, which has agreed to a tough new target to cut emissions by 35% by 2030. And then you have the Middle East, these oil and gas producers. You have the UAE, the United Arab Emirates, and also Saudi Arabia aiming for net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. As for “pure zero”, it’s probably worth clarifying that this is, in fact, a ledger. You know, you have a balance in which the greenhouse gas emissions produced by a country are offset by the removal of emissions from the atmosphere, whether it is planting new forests or carbon capture technology, etc., but the longer term goal, the main theme here is to that we just have to cut that balance. First of all, we need to achieve much lower emissions, so it will take less and less effort to compensate for this.
Yeah. And I should point out that when we talk about less developed and more highly developed countries, we are really talking here about industrialization and the size of the economy. Now I’m wondering how much the Russian invasion of Ukraine has actually increased the focus on renewable energy and emission reduction? Or was it a failure? Of course, fears about the lack of fuel for the winter.
You are right, it was a failure. You know, in the last decade or so, Europe has been very focused on renewable energy. And even though they will rely on fossil fuel imports in the short term to make up for the loss of supplies from Russia, they will eventually focus on more renewables in the long term — just to make them less vulnerable to supply shocks and less dependent on others, such as Russia. But in terms of these outliers, exactly from your point of view. It’s been downgraded a bit, you know, it’s been pushed back. This is a much lower priority as Europe is focused on keeping light and warmth this winter. Thus, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has dramatically shifted the focus on energy security, at least for now.