Do We Give a Damn? Climate Change Anxiety
7 Pages Posted: 5 Jan 2023
Date Written: December 31, 2022
The recent United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was the 27th ‘Conference of the Parties’ since 1992. Better known as COP 27, it has widely been derided as ‘COP OUT 27’, for achieving few, if any, significant, actionable outcomes, especially in comparison to the sheer volume of rhetoric spouted by 92 heads of state and 35,000 registered representatives of 190 countries in attendance at this highly choregraphed photo opportunity. The disappointing outcome was partly due to the instruction, issued shortly before the conference, to focus on 'cooperation and facilitation' not ‘liability and compensation’. The creation of a ‘loss and damage fund’ was touted as the most positive outcome of the conference, even though the total amounts pledged were less than 1% of the cost of economic loss and damage in this year’s Pakistan floods, aside from the 33 million lives affected and around 2,000 lives lost.
This year’s conference took place in the aftermath of the Pakistan and Bangladesh floods, heatwaves in Europe, wildfires in every continent and severe hurricane in the Americas. Holding the conference in Egypt gave rise to hopes of greater climate change focus on the particular vulnerability of Africa and poorer nations generally, with estimates that over 100 million lives in Africa are threatened by global warming in the next 8 years. The most affected states, along with Aid NGOs are looking to the main polluters and fossil fuel producers, many of whom are just across the Red Sea from Sharm el-Sheikh to provide compensation for the consequences of global warming. It proved embarrassing when, to the particular chagrin of poorer countries, Egypt’s Government imposed levies, resulting in higher hotel prices during the conference, while delegates from OPEC members and other fossil fuel producing countries were breathing a collective sigh of relief that no action was taken to phase out fossil fuels. It didn’t go unremarked that the conference was sponsored by Coca Cola, leading to accusations of ‘greenwashing’ in view of drinks makers’ contributions to global plastic pollution levels.
The main headline from the predecessor, COP 26, held in Glasgow, was the bad news that the agreed strategy of acting to limit global temperature increases to 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels would be hopelessly inadequate to preserve life as we know it and that more drastic action was required.
The main headline from COP 27 was the UNEP report which outlined that rather than having taken more drastic action since COP 26, there isn’t even a “credible pathway" any longer to just achieving the 1.5 C limit, because of the "woefully inadequate" global response since COP 26.
Keywords: ESG, COP, climate change economics, greenwashing, exploitation, public capital markets
JEL Classification: Q00, Q01, Q02, Q1, Q2, Q3, Q4, Q5, G10, G11, G18
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