Is there time for COP27 to hold back the climate catastrophe?

Op-Ed: Is there still time for COP27 to hold back climate catastrophe?

By Liam Dillon

“The climate is the first thing upon which the survival of the human race is dependant.”

That is what US President Bill Clinton said in his 1996 Nobel Peace Prize address, and it is even more true today than then, with climate change wreaking havoc all over the world, and with sea levels rising.

But Clinton could only go so far in his criticism of current US efforts to cut emissions, as he was still firmly a believer that we, as in the US, have the luxury of working towards our goals through a set of ‘technologies’ – such as the use of biofuels to produce energy – rather than addressing the root causes of this global problem.

We are now at the sixth anniversary of the Paris climate talks and despite the vast progress made towards a meaningful agreement, the question remains: is there time for COP27 to hold back the climate catastrophe?

The Paris Agreement, which was ratified by 195 countries, came into effect in December 2015. Its goal was to keep global temperature rise below 2°C (3.6°F), thereby limiting the likelihood of the worst climate effects we are experiencing now.

Achieving this goal required ambitious policies on carbon emissions and energy systems, along with improved international governance of financial markets. But it also meant that the US and other major emitters had to re-enter the climate negotiation processes with a different agenda, whereby the US would be more keen to reduce emissions, and offer new ‘emissions trading’ schemes.

A key problem was that this agenda would lead to greater emissions. Already, as a result of the Paris Agreement, the US had cut its emissions by 8% (from 1990 levels) and, in the process, made itself a pariah in international talks. It would now have to move from the position of being a net carbon emitter, to become one that does not.

Why isn’t this a problem?

In a word, technology.

It is technology.

As the climate talks approached, each country made a case for why it should be allocated a limited number of climate adaptation and climate-related mitigation ‘carbon budgets’ – in that order. And many countries argued that the technologies of each had to be priorit

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