When it seemed that Sharm el-Sheikh had achieved overcome his great obstacle (the creation of a fund to deal with the loss and damage caused by the climate crisis in the global south), the final agreement of the climate summit has been hit another hurdle even more complicated to overcome against the clock. This Saturday morning, in what is supposed to be the final stretch of the negotiations, Europe has been blunt in stating that it will not sign any agreement that is not aligned with the 1.5 degree target. Later, a coalition of countries (among which Spain is also included) has appeared to support the message.
“Keep 1.5 alive.” This is the phrase that has been repeated the most in the corridors of the Sharm el-Sheikh summit this Saturday. The motto refers to the goal of limit the global rise in temperatures below the 1.5 degrees on average compared to the pre-industrial era. Right now, the globe’s thermometers are already 1.1 degrees higher than a century ago. As various analyzes warn, current climate policies will lead to a global warming close to 2.5 degrees. If so, the world would be exposed to a drastic increase in all weather extremes.
To avoid this scenario, experts warn that greenhouse gas emissions must be drastically reduced. The plan is crystal clear. Emissions must reach its peak before 2025 and then they must fall almost in half before reaching 2030. This is the only path that, according to countless scientific reports, will allow us to avoid the climate catastrophe. Or put another way, the 1.5 degree target it is the great “safety threshold” for the planet.
This is the message that now defend a group of countries en bloc, known as the ‘High Ambition Coalition’, as the last obstacle to save the Sharm el-Sheikh agreement. In a brief but direct statement delivered this Saturday afternoon, a large coalition of countries have argued that they will only sign the agreement if they explicitly stated in the final text the need to strengthen emission reduction policies (and align them with the 1.5 target), toreach peak emissions in 2025 and commit to the end (or at least the substantial reduction) oil, coal and gas.
The Fossil Fuel Controversy
Right now, according to the latest draft released by the Egyptian presidency of the summit, these elements they are only diffusely reflected in the text. The text includes a mention of the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel of Experts on Climate Change (IPCC) on the need to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 43% by 2030 but does not detail any additional measures to get it. It asks, yes, the countries that present new cut plans at the Dubai summit (which is, roughly speaking, the same assignment that Glasgow left for Sharm el-Sheikh).
It also repeats the same speech from the Scottish summit on the need to “phase out” the use of coal and leave behind “inefficient subsidies” to fossil fuels but, beyond this, the wording of the text displays a more watered down message. The same goes for methane. The latest draft of the agreement reiterates the need to “take more action” to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, with special emphasis on methane, but does not detail further measures to achieve it.
This Saturday, in a race against time to close the negotiations, the joint declaration of these countries has increased the pressure so that the final agreement of Sharm el-Sheikh includes a clear mention on all these issues. Europe has even threatened to walk out of the summit without signing the agreement if this request is not respected. The promoters of this demand argue that the objective of 1.5 degrees is also a reflection of climate solidarity. In this sense, they argue that It is of little use to create a fund to deal with climate damage in the global south if, at the same time, measures are not designed to prevent them from going further.