1.5C target not achievable under current conditions, says COP27 host
The 1.5C degrees warming target of the Paris Agreement cannot be attained unless the necessary instruments are put in place, according to Mohamed Nasr, the lead negotiator of last year’s COP27 climate summit in Egypt.
“What has pushed for more visibility of the 1.5C target is the amount of climate extreme events that we are seeing now that we are still at 1.1,” Nasr told journalists on 8 March.
At the COP27 summit last year, world nations agreed a package of decisions reaffirming their commitment to limit the rise in global temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and strengthen action to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
However, there are concerns that the work done so far is not enough, and that more effort is needed to achieve the goal.
“Is it achievable? We are told it is achievable if the right ingredients and the catalysers are in place. Are they in place? No, they are not,” Nasr said.
“Let’s be very fair. Do we have the technology? No, it is still in the making. Do we have finance? No, it is being blocked, and it is still not up to the scale,” he added.
Nasr’s concerns echo a UN report released in October which showed that combined commitments from nearly 200 nations is putting the planet on track to warm by around 2.5C compared to pre-industrial levels by the century’s end.
According to UN experts, we are still nowhere near the scale and pace of emission reductions required to put the world on track towards the 1.5C target.
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Although the gap in climate finance is huge and rich nations’ pledges have not been yet fulfilled, Nasr believes there is still enough time to attain the 1.5-degree goal with a ‘carrot approach’.
However, he says this will require a shift in mindset. “We have no problem with the ‘carrot approach’. It means understanding that financial flows need to be provided and not just repackaging the existing finance. And this is the dilemma and challenge,” he argued.
The agreement on the creation of a loss and damage fund for the first time during the last COP meeting marked a turning point in international climate talks.
According to Nasr, the fund “will soon be operational, by the end of this year”. There might be delays, he added however, saying the timing will become clearer after the first meeting to establish the fund at the end of March.
The “transnational committee” established during COP27 to make recommendations on how to operationalise the new loss and damage fund at COP28, will meet for the first time in Egypt on 27-29 March.
A “functioning institutional arrangement” for the new fund might be possible by the end of this year, Nasr confirmed, but “there is also a challenge, as creating new funds takes time”.
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Phasing down fossil fuels
Despite widespread calls to phase down fossil fuels at COP27, concerns about energy prices and availability resulted in negotiating parties failing to intervene with stronger measures to reduce dependence on oil and gas.
But Nasr said it was pointless to ask countries to cut fossil fuels without providing alternatives to replace them.
For him, this means the whole ecosystem around fossil fuels – workers, their families, jobs – must be taken into consideration when approaching the transition.
“We have been talking a lot about phasing down, phasing out, phasing up, and all these nice ‘phasings’, but we have not moved forward from the ‘phasings’ into looking at the enablers of this transition,” he stressed.
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