People in developing countries feel increasingly angry and “victimized” by the climate crisis, US climate envoy. john kerry he has warned, and rich countries must respond urgently.
“I have been recording the growing frustration and anger of island states and vulnerable countries and small African nations and others around the world who feel victimized by the fact that are a tiny component of emissions,” he said. “And still [they are] paying a very high price. Seventeen of the 20 countries most affected in the world by the climate crisis are in Africa, and yet 48 sub-Saharan countries account for 0.55% of all emissions.
The UN Climate Summit Cop27 in Egypt in November was nearly derailed by a bitter dispute between rich and poor nations over “loss and damage”the term for the most severe impacts of climate disaster and the means to rescue and rebuild the poor nations affected by them.
US, EU, UK and other wealthy nations finally agreed to a new fund for losses and damageswithout saying how much money would be in the fund or where the financing would come from.
Kerry said the United States was committed to helping the developing world with loss and damage, but the details of the fund would need more work in 2023.
“How can you look someone in the eye, with a serious face, and not accept the notion that there is damage, there is loss?” she asked. “We see them all over the world. You see them at high sea levels, we see them in fires, we see them in floods, in Pakistan and other places. We see them in the greatest intensity of the storms.”
But he added: “How do you manage [loss and damage] is still in question: how you approach this challenge of financial arrangements. But it was important to recognize that they are there and we have to work on this in good faith.”
Kerry spoke to The Guardian in London in December. The White House is facing serious problems raising climate funds through Congress, and a Republican-controlled House of Representatives is likely unwilling to shell out funds. The probable difficulties were foreshadowed in a finance bill passed just before Christmascontaining less than $1 billion in climate funds.
At Cop27, Kerry suggested international carbon offset markets and the private sector could provide additional sources of financing. However, those discussions are at an early stage and are likely to be tense.
Next year’s Cop28 talks it will take place in the United Arab Emirates, a major oil producer. Some have expressed concern that this could open up opportunities for oil lobbyists to slow progress. There was more than 630 fossil fuel lobbyists at Cop27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, and rejection by oil-producing countries prevented stronger resolutions on phasing out fossil fuels and reaffirming the global target of limiting temperature rises to 1.5°C. above pre-industrial levels.
Kerry dismissed such concerns. “I think it’s ideal that the United Arab Emirates, which is an oil and gas producing nation, has had the courage to stand up and say, ‘We’re going to lead a police force that will address this challenge,’” he said.
“They are at the forefront of many [low-carbon technology], they have invested large sums in renewable energy, they are at the forefront of research in nuclear batteries, green hydrogen, “he said. “I think it’s a great statement that a country that has produced great wealth as a result of the old energy economy is now looking at the new energy economy. And it’s going to be the site of an honest discussion about it.”
While discussions on climate finance are urgently needed, reducing emissions must also be a key focus, Kerry insisted. “We can’t get away from [that],” he said. “You can’t take a vacation [from cutting emissions] Because if you do, you are simply contributing to much higher levels of loss and damage and making it harder for the planet as a whole to deal with this crisis.”
Kerry said he was “sorry” that there was “it was not an appropriate collective approach” in reducing emissions in Cop27. But he said if countries met their commitments on emissions, the target of limiting temperature increases to 1.5C could still be met.
Some scientists and observers of climate talks warned after Cop27 that the The 1.5C target was being missed. Kerry rejected that view, but agreed that it would require much greater efforts.
“[The 1.5C target] you are on life support; it is still doable, but only if we make better decisions,” he said. Not all members of the G20 group of the world’s largest economies, which are also responsible for around 80% of global emissions, were proposing the targets and measures needed to meet them, he said. Limiting warming to 1.5°C was, she said, “within the realm of possibility, but only if we get countries to step up across the board.”
US cooperation with China, the world’s biggest emitter, would be key to that, he added. “China presents a real challenge because of the levels of its overall emissions and its use of coal. We have to find a way to work with China cooperatively.”