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What you missed at COP27 this weekend

The second week of COP27 has begun, as negotiations on how to protect the planet continue to take place. Air Quality News looks back at what you may have missed this weekend, from the headline speeches to the key discussions which occurred. 

The end of the first week of COP27 in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm El Sheikh has brought disappointment for many campaigners. They say that progress so far has been slow on what was intended to be a summit of implementing actions agreed at previous conferences in Paris and Glasgow. ‘It’s the end of the first week yet it feels like nothing has happened,’ said Mitzi Jonelle Tan, a Filipina climate activist.

Joe Biden makes an appearance

The mood changed little even after a speech by US President Joe Biden on Friday, which saw delegates queuing for two hours for a seat in the hall.

In a speech momentarily interrupted by indigenous and youth protestors unfurling a banner, the president said the US would tighten the methane emissions of oil and gas emissions. ‘Thanks to the actions we have taken, I can stand here as President of the United States of America and say with confidence the US will meet our emissions targets by 2030,’ he said.

group of people on the street

Although Biden didn’t specifically mention loss and damage reparations, his special enjoy on climate John Kerry went on record to say that the US was ‘100% ready’ to discuss the details of the issue.

Agriculture takes the stage

The main theme for Saturday’s discussions was ‘adaptation and agriculture.’ Historically, agriculture has been a major cause of deforestation in the planet’s tropical belt, which absorbs large amounts of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Parts of the amazon, Congo and rainforests of Borneo have all been lost to farming and roughly a third of global greenhouse gas emissions are thought to derive from farming.

One area under discussion is making current agricultural practices greener. The reduction in methane emissions from farm animals, the use of green fertilisers and technological solutions, including the use of satellite mapping to guide pastoralists, have all been highlighted.

Other attendees brought attention to ‘agroecological’ farming practices – an environmentally low-impact form of farming which includes historic methods of harvesting, such as crop rotation, to avoid the use of chemically-produced nitrogen-based fertilisers which contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and can run off into local watercourses polluting them.

Saturday also saw the revelation that Russian oligarchs and executives from Russian companies under sanction are attending COP27 as lobbyists for oil and gas. Elsewhere, G20 member Mexico was one of few large economies to commit to improved greenhouse gas emission targets over the weekend.

What to watch for as week two begins

Limiting average global temperature rises to 1.5°C, as agreed in Paris in 2015, is likely to resurface this week. Just a few days after new research showed there was a ’50-50’ chance of breaching the 1.5°C global warming limit, there’s some suggestion that the Egyptian COP presidency may seek to find agreement between the global north and south by diluting the pledge.

Much of the pressure to water down the target is coming from China and India, who have begun to question its viability. However, the Least Developed Countries group, representing 46 nations most at risk from climate change, insists the 1.5°C target is still critical to talks. ‘[A]t COP27, the 1.5C goal must remain within reach by having strong commitments to halving emissions by 2030,’ said Madeleine Diouf Sarr, the group’s chair.

Photo by Mika Baumeister

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