COP27: absent leaders and fossil fuel lobby weaken climate change fight
- Leaders from countries that could make a difference in stopping climate change – including from China and India – are either absent or making token appearances
- There are also more than 600 fossil fuel lobbyists at the summit, outnumbering any community affected by climate change and threatening to stall negotiations
Additionally, the protests which were a common occurrence at previous climate summits, have been conspicuously absent in Egypt, in part because of tight security measures and the conference site’s distance from major cities.
Although underlings are negotiating, the leaders of China and India – two of the top three greenhouse gas-emitting countries – did not attend the conference in Egypt.
Even Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who has spent the last six months portraying Australia as a climate leader, upheld his decision to not attend COP27. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak had first planned not to go, but he changed his mind after pressure from the public and the decision to attend by Boris Johnson.
Even Greta Thunberg, the Swedish climate campaigner who has previously attended conferences, decided not to go this time. She characterised the occasion as “more greenwashing, lying and cheating” by those in positions of authority.
Although previous climate change meetings did not often culminate in implementation of climate policies, even critics still saw value in participating.
The ability of affluent nations to deliver on reparations – a contentious subject that is viewed as a key issue of climate justice – will largely determine the success or failure of the UN’s flagship climate summit. Little has changed over the years, but rich nations have indicated they will now walk the talk about new loss and damage finance methods.
The question is how these nations will send a credible signal that they will adapt and assist others when their absence damages the significance that COP27 deserves.
The purpose of these conferences is for nations to address climate change, and the yearly series of conferences continues to be the only arena for doing so. However, they work by consensus among nearly 200 nations which have diverse viewpoints.
Within this decade, radical transformation is required for both mitigation and adaptation, and the necessity for this action is emphasised when nations come together at COP27. Rising absenteeism by those whose meaningful presence can have a positive influence on the deliberations, discussions and debate and the growing presence of those from the opposite side of the aisle does not help either the case or credibility of climate action and COP27.
Professor Syed Munir Khasru is chairman of the international think tank IPAG Asia-Pacific, Australia, with a presence also in Dhaka, Delhi, Dubai and Vienna