COP27: just a talking shop?

The 27th UN Climate Change Conference is coming to an end in Egypt. A key topic of the huge event with more than 190 participating countries was the demand that industrialised countries, as the main perpetrators of climate change, pay compensation to the worst affected developing countries. There is a fierce debate in Europe's press about whether such meetings and measures can really help to save the climate.

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Primorske novice (SI) /

Just window dressing

Nothing can be expected from climate summits in luxury resorts, Primorske novice criticises:

“If all their talking produced a concrete agreement that actually contributed to slowing global warming, reducing pollution, stopping the shrinkage of the Amazon rainforest and protecting animal and plant species, we could forgive the participants for this luxury. But it's almost certain that that won't happen, because there will be more climate summits for them to attend in the future. Where, once the spotlights go out, they can have something nice to eat and drink, pat each other on the back, laugh and strike new deals that ensure comfort and convenience for an ever-shrinking circle of the chosen few.” (ES) /

Saving the planet takes priority over trade and war and more than 30 international media partners have simultaneously published an editorial calling for urgent action against the climate crisis:

“Solving the crisis is the moonshot of our times. Getting to the moon succeeded within a decade because huge resources were devoted to it. A similar commitment is needed now. ... Key to maintaining the consensus in Egypt is not to let disputes over trade and war in Ukraine block global climate diplomacy. The UN process may not be perfect. But it has provided nations with a target to save the planet.”

Hürriyet (TR) /

Too many fossil fuels lobbyists

Hürriyet reflects on how renewable energies could finally gain more traction globally:

“According to two environmental NGOs, more than 600 fossil fuel lobbyists attended the summit. That's a 25 percent increase compared to last year's summit in Glasgow. The question is: how are poor African countries supposed to assert their rights at a summit where the oil and gas lobby is so strong? ... Consequently, a new approach is needed in the fight against the climate crisis. Countries that are pioneers in environmentally friendly innovations and technologies have the potential to overtake other countries economically. Turning the fight against the climate crisis into a 'profitable' commercial movement could be the key.”

Irish Examiner (IE) /

Host does not stand for a better future

Egypt is an inappropriate venue for the summit, the Irish Examiner criticises:

“Officials have dissolved more than 2,000 charity organizations, seized their assets over alleged links to the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood, and expanded the crackdown to include environmental activists. ... The world leaders who have gathered in Sharm El-Sheikh must not lose sight of the brutality of el-Sisi's regime. A dictatorship teetering on the edge of political turmoil is hardly an appropriate location for Cop27 - or for any gathering whose stated goal is to realize a better future for humanity.”

Népszava (HU) /

Political decisions needed

People changing their behaviour won't be enough to slow down climate change, Népszava emphasises:

“We cannot achieve the optimum for the climate and thus for saving life on Earth solely by changing our consumption habits and lifestyle - these changes are also necessary, but they are not enough. Political decisions are needed. As long as the world (and of course Hungary) continues to put people in power whose agenda does not include this issue which is crucial to our survival, we have no chance of escaping the climate trap that humanity has set for itself.”

Delo (SI) /

All just for show

Not much can be expected from the Climate Change Conference in Egypt, warns Delo:

“The main sponsor of the 27th climate summit is Coca-Cola. This is a bad joke. Coca-Cola is one of the biggest consumers of plastic made from fossil fuels. Every year, Coca-Cola produces 120 billion plastic bottles, most of which are not recycled. Greta Thunberg and her generation of environmental activists have refused to attend the climate summit in Egypt. She knows that the economic and political elites gathered there will briefly don green masks and then go back to business as usual. Until the Day of Judgement comes.”

Jutarnji list (HR) /

Western Europe not in a position to preach

The EU decision to ban combustion engines as of 2035 doesn't go far enough, Jutarnji list criticises:

“The challenge for the EU now is to make zero-emissions clean cars accessible to everyone, not just to the more affluent, as is the case today. ... The EU has the right to demand that others contribute to halting climate change. But given its colonial past and its key role in the industrial revolution, which accelerated climate change, Western Europe cannot shirk its responsibilities and should not think it has already done its part by setting such high standards in the EU.”

Le Quotidien (LU) /

Frugality instead of greed

To help fight climate change, people must learn to get by with less, Le Quotidien advises:

“We are already rushing to mine the rare metals that will supply the gigantic factories producing the precious batteries for our future vehicles. It's innovation, yes, but it's still mass production. We want to live like we did 'before' simply by 'greening' the objects around us, but our greed remains the same. Frugality will be one of the keys to slowing down the climate catastrophe. Will we manage to push through this principle which we humans find so unnatural?”

Irish Examiner (IE) /

Time to assume responsibility

The Irish Examiner hopes for a breakthrough especially in the area of support for the countries worst affected by climate change:

“It seems incredible that vulnerable countries should have to lobby for more funding and assistance as giant economies exacerbate the problems. ... Scientific experts say loss and damage simply must play a major part in Cop27 and it could end up being the Egyptian event's legacy if the hopes are realised. ... [If not, it] would be a grave blow to world ambitions on climate change, a monumental failure of responsibility, and ammunition for the naysayers' stance that Cop events are little more than a talking shop.”

La Vanguardia (ES) /

Don't just focus on damage limitation

To do nothing more than discuss payments for the Global South would be to give up more important goals, warns La Vanguardia:

“At COP27 it won't be enough to renew the old commitments, they must be made more ambitiously. ... But given that the commitments to reduce emissions are not being respected, things could get even worse. ... The worst-case scenario at COP27 would be that the risk of ever worse climate catastrophes is viewed as inevitable and that discussions at the conference focus mainly on demands for help for the countries most affected by the impact of global warming.”

De Standaard (BE) /

Compensation also in the North's interest

There are arguments against paying damages to poor countries, but payments must still be considered, writes De Standaard:

“The West is afraid of being held liable without limitation. This is not just about huge amounts of money. ... It is also still unclear what must be paid to whom. Some developing countries are not exactly role models when it comes to impeccable leadership. ... But the West must provide aid to enable people to rebuild their lives. This also serves its own interests, because otherwise it will face the threat of the umpteenth influx of refugees. Developing countries must also be able to invest to adapt to the consequences of global warming.”

The Independent (GB) /

Make Africa a pioneer

Investing in green energy is what Mohamed Adow, director of the Nairobi-based think tank Power Shift Africa, hopes for in The Independent:

“We now have an opportunity to finally shake off our destructive dirty energy addiction and invest the big money needed into renewable energy all around the world – including in developing countries that need that energy investment the most. Africa, the world's youngest continent, is on the cusp of sweeping economic development. But that development must be powered by renewables if we're going to keep the global temperature rise below 1.5C. Africa has all the sun and wind it needs to be a clean energy pioneer.”

T24 (TR) /

One voice is absent

In not attending Turkish President Erdoğan is discrediting his claim to be the spokesperson for the South, T24 criticises:

“The summit is seen as a chance for the South to raise its voice louder against the North, which has been polluting the world for years and is now insisting that the South must not pollute it any more. ... G20 member Turkey, which claims to be the voice of the 'poor and disenfranchised' and the representative of the South in the North, will not be participating in the summit at the presidential level, even though the president could have supported Africa by attending the summit. This is exactly the place where he could have shown his five fingers to say that the world does not consist of just five states.”

Új Szó (SK) /

The venue is a bad omen

Új Szó finds it unacceptable that demonstrators are hardly being given a podium at COP27:

“Non-profit environmental groups, climate activists, NGOs and civil society in general are indispensable actors in the climate transition. And it is deliberately being made extremely difficult for these actors to participate. Why? Because the Egyptian state headed by the president and dictator Abdel Fattah al-Sisi doesn't want to hear any criticism, and certainly not from its own civil society. ... There are about 60,000 Egyptian political prisoners behind bars, including not only human rights activists but also many climate activists. ... Climate justice and human rights go hand in hand.”

Les Echos (FR) /

Things are moving forward

This year's records for high temperatures, monsoons and glacier melt will give impetus to the conference, Les Echos believes:

“The year 2022 proves to anyone who still has doubts that the 'climate catastrophe' is no longer just knocking on the COP's door. ... It has entered the house. ... The intrusion of the disaster into real life should suffice to turn will into action and goals into results, something the COP summits have failed to do adequately since the Paris Agreement of 2015. ... Unlike Greta Thunberg, one should resist the temptation to demonise the UN process. Yes, it is moving too slowly, but it is moving forward, as the release of 100 billion dollars for climate protection in the least developed countries, which has been expected for over ten years, should demonstrate.”

Kleine Zeitung (AT) /

Make the polluters pay up

The Global South is disproportionately affected by the climate crisis, criticises Jasmin Duregger, a Greenpeace Austria climate and energy expert, in a guest commentary for Kleine Zeitung:

“Pakistan, for example, accounts for just 0.3 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. On the other hand, the US and the EU have generated almost half of all emissions since the pre-industrial era. So the need to create a separate financial coffer from which the losses and damage caused by the climate crisis can be compensated is all the greater now. And in particular, those countries that have discharged climate-damaging greenhouse gases into the environment without restraint over the last decades must be made to finance this.”

Le Soir (BE) /

Unnecessary staging

The meeting could do more harm than good to the climate, fears Le Soir:

“Given the proliferation of virtual meetings in the wake of the pandemic, isn't it odd that environmentalists feel obliged to travel by plane by the thousands to gather in conference rooms and hotels where the air-conditioning is turned up full blast? ... And all this under the 'protection' of thousands of local police. All this staging à la Hollywood to protect our poor planet! ... One might well ask why yet another COP summit is being organised when the decisions taken at the previous meetings have mainly gone unimplemented.”

Irish Independent (IE) /

No more equivocation

Ireland must finally be consistent in its climate protection efforts, demands the Irish Independent:

“Ireland is among a handful of countries that have repeatedly failed to present a long-term strategy on climate action to the European Commission. ... Such a strategy would include details on expected emissions reductions across sectors in line with national plans. But already it is two-and-a-half years overdue. There can be no more equivocation - we're either serious about solutions or we remain part of the problem. ... Vladimir Putin's efforts to use his petro-dictatorship to impose energy challenges on western democracies have resulted in a stronger push toward a green-energy future. Democracies are finally mobilising, and we have a deep responsibility to be with them.”

El País (ES) /

Losing the most important battle

Only with Russia and China can climate policies be successful, writes El País:

“We can wage a proxy war against Russia in Ukraine. Or impose trade sanctions against China. ... Or fight climate change. We can win one of these wars, but not all three. ... If the West defeats Russia and China, it will no longer be able to engage them in the fight against climate change. ... The Germans are right to seek close relations with the Russians and the Chinese. But they are right for the wrong reasons. ... Instead of reaching private deals, they should have involved the EU in a strategy that makes cooperation dependent on the climate change agenda. ... We're at risk of fighting too many battles and losing the most important one.”