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Climate: world leaders at COP27 against a backdrop of crises

Nearly 100 heads of state and government are due to speak Monday and Tuesday to delegates gathered in Sharm e-Sheikh for the 27th UN World Climate Conference.

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Climate: world leaders at COP27 against a backdrop of crises

Nearly 100 heads of state and government are due to speak Monday and Tuesday to delegates gathered in Sharm e-Sheikh for the 27th UN World Climate Conference.

Interventions against the background of multiple and linked crises that are shaking the world, invasion of Ukraine, galloping inflation and threat of recession, energy or food crisis.

A context that risks pushing climate change into the background, the devastating impacts of which have multiplied in 2022 - devastating floods, heat waves, droughts affecting harvests.

- Wasted time -

"All crises are important, but none have as much impact", hammered Sunday, during the formal opening of the COP27, Simon Stiell, the boss of the UN-Climate.

"The fear is that we will lose another day, another week, another month, another year: we cannot afford it".

The current commitments of the countries are however far from meeting the objectives of the Paris agreement of 2015, the cornerstone of climate diplomacy. Either contain global warming "significantly" below 2°C compared to the pre-industrial era, and if possible to 1.5°C.

The latest “national contributions”, if for once fully respected, would leave the world on a trajectory of 2.4°C at best by the end of the century, according to the UN.

And with the current policies, it is even a catastrophic 2.8°C that is looming.

A symbol of the "retreat" that many say they fear, only 29 countries have tabled enhanced reduction plans since the 2021 COP, even though they had adopted a "pact" calling on them to do so.

Any announcements of additional reductions in Sharm el-Sheikh will therefore be closely scrutinized.

The two main global polluters, China and the United States, whose cooperation is crucial, will not speak at the summit. Chinese President Xi Jinping will not come to Egypt, and his American counterpart Joe Biden, retained by the midterm elections, will quickly move on to the COP on November 11.

MM. Xi and Biden could, however, meet in Bali the following week on the sidelines of the G20.

- Put pressure -

French President Emmanuel Macron, on the sidelines of the COP, called on them on Monday to be "really there", on the reduction of emissions and financial solidarity. More generally, we must "put pressure on rich non-European countries, tell them you have to pay your share", he said.

Aid to poor countries, often the most exposed to the effects of global warming, even if they have hardly contributed to it, is another crucial issue for this COP27.

In a first move, delegates decided on Sunday to put for the first time on the official agenda of the conference the thorny issue of financing the damage already caused by global warming.

They are already counted in tens of billions of dollars - more than 30 for example for the recent floods which submerged a third of Pakistan - and should grow strongly.

Vulnerable countries are demanding a specific financing mechanism, to which the richest are reluctant, who fear seeing their responsibility called into question and argue that climate financing is already complex enough.

The COP27 will not lead to a decision, the discussions should continue until 2024.

Brazilian President-elect Lula, whose victory has given hope to defenders of the Amazon, one of the "lungs" of the planet, could for his part make a visit to Sharm el-Sheikh before the end of the conference on November 18.

The new British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will also speak on Monday to plead in favor of the energy transition and defend the record of his country, which chaired the last COP.

He assured that he would also discuss during his trip the case of the British-Egyptian political prisoner Alaa Abdel Fattah, on hunger strike and who, according to his family, stopped drinking on Sunday.

According to the NGO Human Rights Watch, the Egyptian authorities arrested dozens of people calling for demonstrations on the sidelines of the COP and restricted the possibility for climate activists to express themselves or demonstrate.

"With the interrogation we had at the airport, it will not be easy to do what we had planned," said Nyombi Morris, a young Ugandan activist.

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