FtF News #168 – 16th November 2022
COP27, the rising calls for climate financial justice, and the hidden impact of the fast fashion industry
Well, COP27 is here, and (by the time this comes out) almost gone, with minimal fanfare even within climate circles. This year was expected to be a little quieter than last, but the apathy seemingly both at the event and beyond is somewhat concerning, especially given the heightened focus this year on climate finance for developing nations. Whilst COP is never the place where anything is truly solved, there’s a real danger that some nations become so disillusioned with the process that they reject it entirely. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that!
As an unrelated aside, much like last year Bloomberg Green have lifted their paywall for COP27, so their articles are free to read until November 18th.
Once again, this week’s issue was ably assisted by Syuan Ruei Chang, who contributed a number of the articles and stories featured this week. If you spot any stories you’d like to share, you can submit them here.
Mother nature’s reactions to the ever-warming world
A new report from the WMO shows that Europe has warmed at twice the global rate for the past 30 years, the impacts of which are only just starting to be felt.
Glaciers across the world, including all those Yosemite, the Dolomites and the entire of Africa will disappear by 2050, according to a new study.
The latest from in climate research and analysis
Current net zero plans would require 1.2bn hectares of land for carbon removal – an area larger than the US, and equivalent to the entire globe’s cropland.
Climate Action Tracker’s latest projections for temperature rise show little to no change from last year, suggesting a concerning lack of progress.
A study on ‘compostable’ plastics has found that most are far from it, with 60% failing to disintegrate after six months, and few people able to compost at home anyhow.
Filter-feeding whales are consuming millions of microplastic particles a day, with some consuming several tonnes a year, making them the largest consumers of plastic waste on the planet.
At least 6% of global fishing is hidden thanks to ships turning off their transponders, often done to conceal illegal fishing.
Party Political Broadcast
Climate politics are a special creature indeed
Mia Mottley, PM of Barbados, is on the warpath at COP27, calling out richer countries for their inaction on the climate crisis.
Gabon’s environment minister has said that the world won’t act meaningfully on climate change until rich people start dying in large numbers from its effects.
The UN Secretary General opened COP27 by warning of the dangers of the intensifying climate crisis, saying that the Earth is ‘sending a distress signal’.
The African Union is likely to gain a seat in the G20, which the body plans to use to push richer nations on their climate pledges.
China has unexpectedly offered assistance in tackling climate change to Taiwan in a less aggressive attempt to progress its One China policy.
New UK PM (for how long?) Rishi Sunak has already u-turned twice on climate, deciding to go to COP27 after previously saying he wouldn’t attend, and then deciding to extend and increase windfall taxes on oil and gas companies.
The US midterms appear to have been less dire than expected for the Democrats, but it is likely to remain extremely difficult to pass further major climate legislation.
Money makes the world go around
The machinations of climate finance
South Africa has laid out the full details of its $84bn plan to move to clean energy over the next five years, based on the $8.5bn deal secured at COP26.
A US- and Japan-led coalition is closing a rumoured $15+bn deal with Indonesia to accelerate its move away from coal, along similar lines to the South Africa deal.
Over 50 countries are in danger of defaulting on their debt and becoming effectively bankrupt, leaving them incapable of dealing with climate impacts, according to the head of the UNDP.
John Kerry has been trying to dodge US accountability for climate funding, proposing instead a plan using the private sector to raise money using carbon credits.
Climate happenings in the corporate world
Many organisations and activists are outraged that this year’s COP is sponsored by Coca-Cola, the world’s largest plastic polluter.
Over 400 scientists have told a major PR firm to drop oil majors as clients after being given the lead role in handling communications for COP27.
Glencore is under investigation by the UK’s Serious Fraud Office for widespread bribery of officials across Africa to secure oil and commodities deals.
Many corporate giants signed up to the Global Commitment, a pledge to reduce plastic pollution, but virtually all are off track for their targets.
A UN-appointed taskforce has attacked net-zero commitments from oil majors, saying that firms must stop funding fossil fuels if they claim to be net-zero aligned.
BP’s CEO was registered as an official delegate of Mauritania for COP27, one of over 600 fossil fuel industry representatives present this year (up 25% on COP26!).
JBS, the world’s largest meat company, has admitted to buying thousands of cattle raised on illegally deforested land in the Brazilian Amazon.
The Future is Electric
Renewables, EVs and all things electrification
Renewables are now starting to bottom out on price thanks to shifting economic conditions, but they still offer vastly better value than fossil fuels.
The rush to secure gas supplies after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has led to an oversupply, with countries having secured around double their needs.
UK battery startup BritishVolt has managed to stave off disaster with emergency funding after coming close to going into administration.
A hard look at the inequities of the climate crisis
A new Oxfam report has found that the richest 125 people have a collective footprint larger than the entire of France.
The US is around $32bn/yr short of paying its fair share of the $100bn climate finance goal based upon historical emissions, with the UK, Australia and Canada also lagging.
Even if warming is limited to 1.5°C, African economies will see their GDP growth fall by 64% by 2100, with some seeing an 80+% impact.
Racially segregated communities in the US are exposed to airborne toxic metals at nearly 10x the rate of well-integrated areas, and have twice the total air pollution.
Over 90% of US coal plants are contaminating their local groundwater, across 43 states, with 70% of them in low-income neighbourhoods or majority non-white areas.
Hundreds of prisoners in Texas have been killed by extreme heat in the last two decades, with temperatures routinely topping 65°C in some facilities.
Efforts in activism and awareness
Activism has been markedly less present at COP27, not least due to the Egyptian government, who have blocked web traffic, kicked delegates out of hotels, and harassed attendees.
A study has mapped out the connections between Twitter accounts tweeting about COP26, producing a fascinating map of influence in the online climate world.
Knowledge is Power
Fuelling awareness of the climate crisis
Carbon Brief, the climate news platform, has launched the Global South Climate Database – a catalogue of scientists and experts across climate science, policy and energy – to offer a wider array of experts than is currently drawn upon.
Interesting deep-dives into climate-related topics
Climate finance is a hot topic at this year’s COP, but many are saying the trillions required can’t be found. Carbon Brief looks at the various mechanisms by which such funds could be found if required.
Egypt is an apt host for COP27, given that it is itself already suffering outsize impacts from the climate crisis, and is very much in need of the solutions being discussed.
The fashion industry produces over 100bn items of apparel each year, with the vast waste footprint of this largely falling on developing countries such as Ghana, which is struggling to keep up with the mountains of junk.
After nearly being eradicated in the 19th century, bison are gradually returning to the US, but are clashing with a world that is no longer suited to their nomadic existence.
Qatar’s claim that the World Cup will be carbon neutral is clearly a fantasy, but Bloomberg explores how FIFA could design the event in a less polluting fashion.