The COP27 climate summit, which begins in Egypt next week, will be uncomfortable for European leaders. Few expect big news announcements about emissions or weather.
Instead, last week EU environment ministers conceded that once again the target of providing $100 billion in climate aid to developing countries would be missed, seven years after his first promise.
Last year was an eternity in climate politics. The lofty goals set at COP26 in Glasgow – where the European Investment Bank and more than a dozen European states pledged to stop funding fossil fuel projects abroad – were quickly thwarted.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has prompted EU countries to rush to find alternative sources of gas supplies from Algeria, Tunisia and Mozambique, scouring the globe for new gas supplies and fixing the price for the poorest countries while maintaining their opposition to their development of reserves for domestic use.
At least they are present. The resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh is expected to attract only around 90 international leaders, with Chinese and Australian leaders absent, while from the EU Olaf Scholz, Emmanuel Macron, Giorgia Meloni and Pedro Sanchez will be among those joining Commission head Ursula von der Leyen.
The past year has damaged Europe’s climate credibility and it must use the COP summit to balance its own short-term efforts to source new gas imports with its long-term climate ambitions.
Finger-wiggling developing countries seizing the opportunity to expand their own fossil fuel exploration will not work. The African continent is responsible for less than 4% of global emissions.
Uganda and Tanzania’s angry reaction to a recent European Parliament motion criticizing their plans to advance oil and gas exploration highlights Europe’s vulnerability to accusations of climate hypocrisy, especially as several EU states stand to benefit from other fossil fuel projects in Africa.
Instead, the EU must be a leader in climate finance.
EU climate chief Frans Timmermans said last week that the EU could be a “bridge builder” specifically on financing “loss and damage” caused by climate disasters. However, it will need to show a level of urgency that has been lacking in efforts to increase financing for climate change adaptation and mitigation.
After years of waiting for climate finance, African states will not hesitate to criticize wealthy states that now tell them not to extract their own oil and gas supplies.
Gas diplomacy with the developing world and accelerating its own domestic decarbonisation is the only way for Europe to regain international climate leadership.
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Pay attention to…
- Commission President Ursula von der Leyen attends the Berlin Process summit for the Western Balkans.
- EU High Representative Josep Borrell attends the G7 Foreign Ministers meeting.
- Parliament President Roberta Metsola and Commission President Ursula von der Leyen each meet the new Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.
- Commission Vice-President Vĕra Jourová speaks at the Terezín Declaration conference.
The views are those of the author.
[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic/Nathalie Weatherald]