Marija Pujo Tadić, as one of the members of the official delegation of the Republic of Croatia, was part of this year’s conference on climate change in Egypt “COP27”. Given the large amount of information that she and her team collected and which were thoroughly discussed, she shared her comments and impressions in an interview written for Novi List.
In the continuation of this article, there is an interview, published on: https://bit.ly/3FqS3h0
In the midst of geopolitical tensions and a slew of interconnected crises, two weeks ago in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on the Red Sea at the United Nations climate conference, better known as COP27, representatives from about 200 countries once again discussed how to curb global warming, that is, how it can be limited to a temperature increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius. Money, specifically, is the main point of contention that has exacerbated relations between countries that became wealthy by burning fossil fuels and poorer countries that did not and are suffering from the severe consequences of climate change. This issue of financing losses and damages, that is, paying compensation for damage caused in poor regions, was at the heart of this climate conference, which was held in Africa, a continent in desperate need of such assistance.
– Although the general goal of all UN climate change conventions, i.e., the parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, for which the term COP has become widely used, is climate change management, each COP has its own specifics. Each year, the Climate COP meets in a different city to emphasize the importance of global coordination. As a continuation of last year’s meeting in Glasgow, this year’s meeting in Egypt resulted in some new goals, and now all countries will be activated in the difficult work of devising ways to achieve the goals that have been set, including the question of how to pay for climate actions, Marija Pujo Tadić explains, international expert in climate change law and politics and president of the International Institute for Climate Action (IICA), who was an official member of Croatia’s delegation at the conference in Egypt, but also took part in negotiations in Paris (COP21), Katowice (COP23), Madrid (COP25), and Glasgow last year (COP26).
– Climate-change-related disasters, such as floods, fires, intense storms, and other disasters, disproportionately affect low- and middle-income countries, which have contributed significantly less to the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. As a result, our interlocutor explains, the UN proposed that richer countries pay financial resources for the “loss and damage” of the so-called climate debt in order to compensate developing countries for the damage they have already suffered and to finance new adaptation efforts.
During the conference, UN experts announced a list of $120 billion projects that investors could fund to assist developing countries in reducing emissions and adapting to the effects of global warming. However, it was reported that in order to meet the global goal of preventing the greenhouse effect, these countries would require a trillion dollars in external financing each year until 2030, along with an equal amount of their own resources. It should be noted that developed countries agreed in 2009 to provide $100 billion per year for climate protection in poorer countries until 2020, but this commitment has largely gone unfulfilled.
– So far, only Denmark has officially allocated funds, and I hope that their example will encourage other countries to step up their activities and commit to COP27 commitments, says a member of the Croatian delegation.
Progress, at least in terms of promises, is also demonstrated by reports from Sharm-el-Sheikh that some countries have already decided to accept certain obligations. For example, the European Union and four of its member countries – Denmark, France, the Netherlands, and Germany – have pledged more than a billion euros to assist Africa in adapting. This money should be used to collect data on climate risks, then to strengthen the early warning system for the population of an impending disaster, and to aid in the collection of funds to combat climate change, including from private sources. A portion of the funds, EUR 60 million in total, will be used to compensate the continent for its losses and damages.
According to Croatian Economy Minister Davor Filipović, within the framework of available funds, Croatia supports the launch of the ‘loss and damage’ mechanism, which would provide financial assistance to countries affected by climate change. “Croatia, in line with what the EU has supported, supports that all countries that have suffered significant damages as a result of climate change be assisted within the framework of available funds, with a portion of them invested in prevention,” said the minister in Sharm El Sheikh.
An (un)achievable goal
The main, but not only, topic of the COP27 conference in Egypt is climate debt. The four most important topics, according to our interlocutor, are determined by the Agenda (program), which is adopted at the start of each conference.
– As a result, the conference begins with the adoption of the Agenda, as it did this year, when COP27 President Sameh Shoukry and UNFCCC Executive Secretary Simon Stiell delivered excellent speeches, says Marija Pujo Tadić.
While Sameh Shoukry focused specifically on the promise of $100 billion in annual aid for developing countries to green their economies and build resistance to future climate change, he also warned that most climate change financing is based on loans and that the approach to this existential threat must be changed because, according to him, “we don’t have the luxury to continue in this way,” Stiell referred to the impending threat of climate change.
– Keeping the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels was an important topic, as it always is. Six years ago, world leaders adopted the so-called Paris Agreement, in which I personally participated, at the COP21 conference. They pledged at the time to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels, and if possible, to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit). Scientists agree that achieving this goal will significantly reduce the harmful effects of climate change. However, even if all countries manage to reduce their national emissions to the levels promised, we are still not on track to meet this target. Although countries are not expected to share updated targets this year, but will do so in 2023 at COP28 in Dubai, it is possible that individual countries will release more ambitious targets by the end of the COP. According to our interlocutor, world leaders are setting more ambitious climate goals and plans in order to respond to the urgency of our time.
In addition to mitigation, an important topic, according to Marija Pujo Tadić, was adaptation to climate change, or how the world is changing and adapting, as well as what is being done to prevent further climate change.
– Adaptation efforts have received far less funding than mitigation efforts to date. However, as the world experiences more frequent and intense storms, floods, fires, and other climate-related disasters, it is clear that we must focus more on climate change adaptation efforts, according to Pujo Tadić.
Our interlocutor emphasizes that stronger cooperation is required for this, which was also a major theme of the conference in Egypt.
– While all countries must work together as closely as possible, it is also critical to ensure adequate representation of all other stakeholders at the Conference and to hear their voices, particularly those of vulnerable communities. As a result, she explains, the presence of vulnerable groups will be ensured at some important meetings so that their voices are heard.
The atmosphere of war
Unlike last year’s COP in Glasgow, which was held in the midst of a COVID-19 pandemic, which limited the number of participants, the “cloud” that hung over COP27 was the war in Ukraine, which was also an essential topic of this year’s conference.
– As Russia’s unjust war in Ukraine disrupts energy markets, burdens economies with rising prices, and threatens vulnerable countries with severe food shortages, efforts to accelerate climate action, grow clean energy economies, climate-smart agriculture, and build global resilience have become more urgent. As a result, the Ukrainian delegation was given the opportunity to present their point of view right at the start. It was a very emotional point of view, reinforced by the fact that, during this devastating war, Russia called into question the European Union’s ambition to achieve complete climate neutrality by 2050 by deliberately destroying several important facilities in Ukraine and increasing CO2 emissions.
However, the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, confirmed in his speech that the EU’s goal remains the same in terms of achieving complete climate neutrality by 2050, as well as zero net emissions, but that the transition strategy must be reviewed and relied on the full extent of transitional energy sources and as much diversification as possible in order to ensure supply security, according to a member of the Croatian delegation.
The return of America
The speech of the President of the United States, Joe Biden, also drew a lot of attention, because during Donald Trump’s presidency, America withdrew from the Paris Agreement, which cost them “nearly four years,” according to our interlocutor.
– US President Joe Biden announced new initiatives in his speech to strengthen US leadership in addressing the climate crisis and to encourage global actions and commitments. This is a defining decade, he said at last year’s COP in Glasgow, and the US is acting to lead a clean energy future that harnesses market forces, technological innovation, and investment to address the climate crisis. The initiatives announced by the President today also reflect the global imperative to assist vulnerable partners in developing countries in building resilience to a changing climate, assisting them in dealing with a problem that they did not cause.
President Biden has restored the United States’ leadership in the fight against climate change in less than eighteen months. Since day one, the president has kept his promises, positioning the United States to meet our ambitious climate goals. According to Pujo Tadić, these efforts reflect President Biden’s belief that climate security, energy security, food security, and water security all go hand in hand. The initiatives highlighted by the US delegation during the COP27 conference and announced by President Biden included strengthening global climate change, including doubling the US pledge to the Adaptation Fund to $100 million and announcing more than $150 million in new support to accelerate the President’s climate action plan. Then there’s the acceleration of global climate action, such as the launch of a new initiative to help Egypt install 10 GW of new wind and solar energy.
Political will is also a renewable resource.
The so-called High-level meeting takes place during the first two days of the COP conference. Which speech in this year’s High-Level segment piqued your interest the most, and why?
– Mr. Al Gore’s speech, who has been dealing with the issue of climate change for many years, was the most interesting to me. He clearly and unequivocally sent a clear and emotional message – even without reading a written speech, as most presidents do – that it is the last moment to start cooperating and facing the growing climate crisis together, concluding with the words that political will is also a renewable resource!
Jubilee COP in Amazonia?
The United Arab Emirates will host the next UN climate conference, COP28, and the Czech Republic is considering hosting the COP29 climate summit in 2024. True, the Czechs have yet to decide whether to submit their candidacy, and they are also considering sharing the role of host with another Eastern European country. Bulgaria is one of them, and it has already stated its willingness to host global climate talks.
The right to host the conference is rotated among the United Nations’ five global regions, and newly elected Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has expressed interest in hosting the jubilee 30th COP in 2025. He is interested in holding the conference in Amazonia, where he believes two countries, Amazonas, and Peru, are capable of hosting such an event. Brazil was scheduled to host the COP in 2019, but the decision was reversed after Bolsonaro took office at the end of 2018.