World leaders insist war in Ukraine must not derail climate action

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“We will not sacrifice our climate commitments under the energy threat from Russia and therefore all commitments made by nations must be kept,” French President Emmanuel Macron said Monday from Sharm el-Sheikh.

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SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt – World leaders took to the stage in the early days of the UN’s landmark climate summit to insist that Russia’s assault on Ukraine must not derail urgent action and collective action to prevent catastrophic global warming.

Ahead of the COP27 summit, which kicked off on Sunday, it had been suggested that geopolitical crises, soaring inflation and a looming economic recession could prevent policymakers from taking action to avoid the worst effects of induced climate change. by the man.

World leaders gathered Monday and Tuesday in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh to deliver national statements on the battle to secure a livable future.

“Climate security goes hand in hand with energy security,” British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said during the UN-brokered talks.

“Russian President Vladimir Putin’s heinous war in Ukraine and rising energy prices around the world are not a reason to slow down climate change. It’s a reason to act faster,” Sunak said on Monday. .

“Because diversifying our energy supplies by investing in renewable energies is precisely the way to insure against the risks of energy dependence.”

A flurry of major UN reports released in recent weeks have delivered a grim assessment of the planet’s proximity to irreversible climate breakdown, warning that there is “no credible pathway” in place to cap warming. climate at 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The 1.5 degree Celsius limit is the ideal temperature threshold assigned in the 2015 Paris Agreement.

It is recognized as a crucial global target because beyond this level, so-called tipping points become more likely. These are thresholds at which small changes can lead to dramatic changes in Earth’s entire life support system.

“We will not sacrifice our climate commitments under the energy threat from Russia and therefore all commitments made by nations must be kept,” French President Emmanuel Macron said Monday from Sharm el-Sheikh.

He also spoke of the need for “energy sobriety” to move away from fossil fuels and said that countries in the north and south “must accept the idea of ​​financial solidarity”.

“We cannot go back on our commitments”

Antonio Costa, Prime Minister of Portugal, said on Tuesday that the European country started investing in renewable energy 15 years ago and was now an example of how investing in the transition from fossil fuels meant it was more safe from an energy emergency.

Costa also said Portugal had abandoned coal eight years earlier than expected and does not expect the fallout from the war in Ukraine to cause it to reverse that decision.

“We cannot go back on our commitments,” Costa said, according to a translation.

Costa said Portugal had abandoned coal eight years earlier than expected and does not expect the war in Ukraine to reverse its decision.

Ahmad Gharabli | AFP | Getty Images

A study published last month by energy think tanks E3G and Ember showed that wind and solar have produced a quarter of the European Union’s electricity since the start of Russia’s war in Ukraine. end of February, with record growth estimated to have avoided the need for 8 billion cubic meters of gas at a cost of 11 billion euros ($11 billion).

In addition to the climate benefits of moving away from fossil fuel gas, analysts at E3G and Ember said it shows that “accelerating the deployment of cheap renewables will reduce the exposure of expensive fossil fuel Europe”.

At the same time, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has threatened to derail the bloc’s decarbonization goals. Some European governments have been prompted to reconsider coal, one of the dirtiest and most polluting ways to generate energy, after a prolonged period of reduced Russian gas flows.

Germany, Italy, Austria and the Netherlands have all indicated that coal-fired power plants could be used in the short term to compensate for a reduction in Russian gas supply. European countries have also announced plans to build new liquefied natural gas terminals and expand the region’s gas pipeline network.

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“Unacceptable, scandalous and self-destructive”

UN Executive Secretary Antonio Guterres said at COP27 on Monday that “the war in Ukraine, the conflict in the Sahel and the violence and unrest in so many other places are terrible crises that afflict the world of ‘today”.

“But climate change is at another time and on another scale. It is the defining problem of our time,” he added.

António Guterres warned that it would be “unacceptable, outrageous and counterproductive” to put climate action on the back burner, pointing out that many conflicts around the world were linked to “growing climate chaos”.

“The war in Ukraine has revealed the profound risks of our dependence on fossil fuels,” he continued. “Today’s urgent crises cannot be an excuse for backtracking or greenwashing. On the contrary, they are a reason for greater urgency, stronger action and effective accountability.”

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