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COP27: Why the next climate conference could become a fossil summit


So far, politicians have announced new steps for more climate protection at UN climate conferences. However, internal documents show that new gas and oil projects will be promoted at the next meeting in Egypt.

Dear reader,

do you remember Glasgow?

That's right, the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference in Scotland.

Seems like an eternity ago.

At that time there was really promising progress in international climate protection.

In the final declaration, the heads of state and government of around 200 countries spoke out in favor of reducing fossil fuel subsidies for the first time.

The agreement made in Paris in 2015 not to allow global warming to rise above 1.5 degrees "if possible" was strengthened in Glasgow.

To achieve the goal, the aim is to reduce global emissions by 45 percent by 2030 compared to 2010.

I know what you're thinking now.

It's been over seven months since Glasgow.

Since then we have been at war in Europe, in Asia there has been a near-war, and the prices for fossil raw materials have exploded.

The world is in the middle of an energy crisis - and unfortunately also in a renaissance of climate-damaging energy sources.

This could now also affect the upcoming UN climate negotiations.

Then the climate protection conference would become a »climate benefit conference«.

This could be the case if what some African leaders - with the support of their European counterparts - intend to do comes true.

At a meeting of the African Union in mid-June, the energy ministers of the countries approved an internal paper that serves to prepare for the COP27 in Egypt and is available to SPIEGEL.

It states: "In the short to medium term, fossil fuels, particularly natural gas, will have to play a crucial role in expanding access to modern energy." coal and petroleum consumption« were demanded.

But "these measures put Africa in a disadvantaged position," according to the secret paper.

Africa therefore needs a "space" to develop its energy production.

Means: fossil energy projects now, climate protection later.

Fossil boom in Africa: Oil drilling in the world's largest bog and 4,000-kilometer-long pipelines

The African ministers' paper sounds like the "Now it's our turn" argument regularly put forward by emerging economies like India: developed countries have been polluting the atmosphere for 150 years.

Now others have a right to development.

In fact, these aren't just words.

Rising gas prices are currently making oil and gas production attractive, and loans for exploiting them are cheaper and easier to obtain.

Just three impressive examples: The French mineral oil company Total wants to work with partners to build a pipeline that will transport dormant oil reserves from Lake Albert through Uganda and Tanzania to the coast of the Indian Ocean.

The »East African Crude Oil Pipeline« (EACOP) is to be built, the longest heated crude oil pipeline in the world.

Around 6.5 billion barrels of oil lie dormant under the lake.

In addition, the African states of Algeria, Niger and Nigeria announced a week ago that they want to build a natural gas pipeline through the Sahara.

Although the 4,000-kilometer tube had been planned for a long time, it should now be completed in a short time.

And in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, oil and gas concessions are being auctioned off.

The deposits are partly in the largest tropical peat area in the world and in the area of ​​the Virunga National Park, the world's most important gorilla sanctuary.

Scholz: Gas Chancellor instead of Climate Chancellor?

But can you blame the African countries for that?

Or does that not ultimately provoke a worsening of the climate crisis, the consequences of which leave millions of destitute citizens of the African Union defenseless?

In any case, Western companies and governments are quite actively involved in this fossil throwback.

For example Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

In May, he was already campaigning for close cooperation on a new gas project in Senegal.

At the G7 meeting at Schloss Elmau, Scholz also advocated closer cooperation with international partners in financing natural gas projects - i.e. investments in fossil fuels.

This clearly contradicts the promises that Germany made at the world climate conference in Glasgow last autumn: by the end of 2022, Germany and 38 other actors wanted to "stop direct public support for the international energy sector with undiminished use of fossil fuels".

In its phased plan for the global energy sector for 2021, the International Energy Agency also made it clear that there should be no investments in new oil and gas projects in order to meet the climate targets that the world has set itself.

"Betrayal of the people of Africa"

Unfortunately, this also shows what such announcements and coalitions at UN conferences are worth.

Should it come true that countries like Germany simply throw the promises made in Glasgow overboard a few months later - without even remembering the agreement - confidence in the negotiations will be weakened.

Then those voices that only see UN conferences as big coffee parties could feel vindicated.

Civil society does not spare harsh words: it would be a "shameful betrayal of the people of Africa" ​​if the African heads of state and government used the COP27 climate summit to commit the continent to a future with fossil fuels, explained Mohamed Adow, for example , the head of Power Shift Africa.

The African countries urgently need their own functioning energy supply, millions of people still live without access to electricity, explain various NGO representatives.

However, this should come from renewable energies.

"Africa has the potential to become a clean energy superpower if we can harness the wind and solar resources that our continent is blessed with," said Joab Okanda, Christian Aid's Pan Africa Senior Advisor.

“However, a clean energy revolution will do nothing for those who benefit from fossil fuels,” Okanda surmises.

He fears that valuable investment money will now flow into gas and oil projects instead of into climate-friendly technologies.

If you like, we will inform you once a week about the most important things about the climate crisis - stories, research results and the latest developments on the biggest issue of our time.

You can subscribe to the newsletter here.

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stay confident

Yours, Susanne Götze

Source: spiegel

All tech articles on 2022-08-05

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