The Latest on COP27, this year's annual UN summit on climate change.
SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt — French President Emmanuel Macron said he discussed human rights with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi and hoped to soon get “results” in the form of a release of political prisoners, on the sidelines of COP27.
Macron said he wouldn’t disclose details of the discussion because in his experience, that's “more efficient” for obtaining the release of activists imprisoned in some authoritarian countries.
Speaking in a news conference, Macron said he specifically discussed the case of one of the country’s leading rights activists, jailed dissident Alaa Abdel-Fattah, who is also a U.K. citizen. Abdel-Fattah escalated his hunger strike this week, refusing even water, to coincide with the first day of the COP27, according to his family. Amnesty International said he could die in prison if Egyptian authorities do not release him within days.
Macron said that al-Sissi committed to ensure that “his health be preserved.”
“I’m telling it with much caution, I hope that the coming weeks and months will bring results. I won’t speak more publicly, but the issue has been very precisely discussed,” he added. Abdel-Fattah hails from a family of well-known Egyptian activists and rose to prominence with the 2011 pro-democracy uprisings that swept the Middle East and in Egypt toppled longtime President Hosni Mubarak. The 40-year old activist spent most of the past decade behind bars and his detention has become a symbol of Egypt’s return to autocratic rule.
SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt — Italy’s new far-right leader says her new government will stick to the country’s existing climate goal of reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions by mid-century.
Georgia Meloni said Monday at the U.N. climate meeting in Egypt that “despite a very complex international scenario already affected by the pandemic and further disrupted by the Russian aggression against Ukraine, Italy remains strongly committed” to its climate goals.
Meloni, who took power last month, took a swipe at major polluters she suggested were freeloading on more ambitious countries.
Countries that are most committed to cutting emissions “risk paying the price to the advantage of those that today are mostly responsible for carbon dioxide emissions on the planet,” she said, without naming specific countries.
While China is now the world’s biggest emitter, the United States has pumped significantly more CO2 into the atmosphere since industrial times and Europe’s emissions per capita are still higher than China’s.
SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt — United Kingdom Prime Minister Rishi Sunak expressed his government’s “deep concern” about the case of a jailed Egyptian-British activist.
Sunak raised the case of Alaa Abdel-Fattah in his meeting Monday with President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi on the sidelines of the U.N. climate summit in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.
According to a Downing Street statement, the British premier said he would continue to “press for progress” in the case of Abdel-Fattah.
Earlier Monday, Sunak avoided journalists’ questions about Abdel-Fattah after he addressed the COP27 high-level summit.
The jailed activist escalated his hunger strike this week, refusing also water, to coincide with the first day of the summit according to his family.
His family is now concerned that he could die from hunger, urging the British government to pressure for his release.
Alaa Abdel-Fattah hails from a family of well-known Egyptian activists and rose to prominence with the 2011 pro-democracy uprisings that swept the Middle East and in Egypt toppled long-time President Hosni Mubarak.
He spent most of the past decade behind bars and his detention has become a symbol of Egypt’s return to autocratic rule.
— World leaders gather to talk climate amid many distractions
— Loss and damage: Fight over human harm, huge climate costs
— Amnesty: Egypt has days to save jailed activist’s life
SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt — German Chancellor Olaf Scholz says Russia’s attack on Ukraine has made the shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy a “security policy imperative.”
In a speech Monday to the U.N. climate conference in Egypt, Scholz acknowledged that Germany was reactivating coal-fired power plants “as a matter of necessity, for a short time” because of the drop in energy supplies from Russia.
But he insisted that Europe’s biggest economy remains committed to phasing out coal, telling fellow leaders that “there must not be a global renaissance of fossil fuels.”
Scholz said his government believes the future belongs to wind power, solar and ‘green’ hydrogen, and is willing to assist other countries in rolling out renewable energy too.
Germany is also prepared to give more financial support to poor countries to tackle climate change, last year providing 5.3 billion euros, he said.
It is also putting 170 million euros into a “global shield” program that will offer a kind of insurance scheme for poor nations hit by climate-related disasters.
Scholz urged countries to agree new steps for cutting greenhouse gas emissions during the talks in Egypt, and reiterated his invitation to join a “climate club” for raising climate ambition he launched during Germany’s presidency of the Group of Seven leading economies this year.
SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt — The vice-president of the Maldives, Faisal Naseem, said climate change is remaking the oceans that his island nation depends on.
Naseem told leaders at this year’s U.N. climate talks on Monday that fishermen in the Maldives have to travel further each year to find fish, while monsoon patterns have shifted and become more violent.
This is causing “storm surges and flooding that have had irreparable damage to property and livelihoods,” he said.
Coral reefs — a big draw for tourists from around the world — are “on life support,” while all freshwater supplies have been lost, Naseem said.
“Climate change is remaking the world,” he said, urging fellow leaders to do more to tackle the threat of global warming and adapt to its impacts. “It’s our responsibility, and why we have gathered here, to ensure that the remade world is equitable, just and allows all of us to live well.”
SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt — Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has pledged 5 million euros ($5 million) to finance the launch of an International Drought Resilience Alliance, a joint initiative presented together with Senegal.
Over thirty countries, including the U.S., China and France, have already joined the new alliance that aims to speed up actions against water shortages and help countries prepare better for future droughts.
“It is essential that we awake from the lethargy and act with the determination that young people around the world are demanding”, said the Spanish leader.
Spain, Sánchez recalled, is one of the countries suffering firsthand the consequences of drought and heatwaves.
SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt — The head of the United Nations food agency called on world leaders to mobilize resources and funds to save millions of people who “are in serious trouble” because of climate-related disasters and market-related shocks.
David Beasley, executive director of the U.N. World Food Program, said on Monday that there are at least 345 million people at risk of starvation because of conflicts and climatic shocks.
“We are in a time of turbulence,” he declared, adding that solutions and funds are urgently needed to avoid mass migration and limit damage to countries vulnerable to climate change.
He said the Russia-Ukraine war has aggravated the humanitarian crisis since both countries are considered the world’s breadbasket, producing much of the world’s grain and fertilizers. The war has created a food pricing problem across the globe, he said.
“I don’t care whether you love or hate Russia, you need these grains and fertilizers to move. Otherwise, people all over the world are going to starve to death,” he said.
SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt — The United States and Germany welcomed the recent victory of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in Brazil’s presidential election as a boost for international efforts to prevent global deforestation.
Da Silva, who is often referred to as Lula, has pledged to halt the destruction of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil seen under his far-right predecessor President Jair Bolsonaro.
“Clearly the election in Brazil now offers a major opportunity,” U.S. climate envoy John Kerry said Monday.
“We know what President Lula did when he was there before,” he said on the sidelines of the U.N. climate talks in Egypt. “We know what I think he is prepared to build on.”
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz echoed that sentiment.
“It is good that our Brazilian friends are part of our joint efforts again,” he told delegates.
“The clear commitment we heard from president-elect Lula right after his election are very encouraging,” Scholz said, adding that Germany was open to the idea of reactivating an Amazon protection fund his country froze due to differences with the Bolsonaro government.
Scholz also announced that Germany will be doubling its five-year contribution to a global fund against deforestation to 2 billion euros (dollars), pending parliamentary approval.
SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt — United Kingdom Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who initially decided not to come to the climate summit, bragged over the United Kingdom’s efforts to decarbonize its economy and its spending of 11.6 billion pounds to help poorer nations deal with global warming.
Sunak struck a much more optimistic tone than other leaders.
“We can turn our struggle against climate change into a global mission for new jobs and new growth and we can bequeath our children a greener planet,” Sunak said. “There really is room for hope. Let us fulfill it.”
Seconds after Sunak addressed the summit he was swarmed by a dozen journalists, pressing him continuously about the fate of Alaa Abdel Fattah, the British national and rights activist detained in an Egyptian prison. He said nothing but continued walking, avoiding questions.
SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt — Kenya’s new president sought to hurry delegates along Monday, describing the wildlife carcasses that litter drought-hit parks back home and saying the climate gathering’s “stalling, delaying tactics and procrastination that have hampered implementation and delivery is simply cruel and unjust.”
President William Ruto, also speaking on behalf of the African group, reminded the gathering that over 90% of his country’s energy grid is based on green energy in spite of its “tremendous hydrocarbon and coal deposits which would go a long way in fueling the engines of development.”
It was a reminder of the choices many African nations face as they seek to grow their economies but see the consequences of richer countries’ actions. Time for those countries to step up and help, Ruto said.
“Loss and damage is not an abstract topic of endless dialogue: It is our daily experience and the living nightmare of millions of Kenyans and hundreds of millions of Africans,” he said.
He also announced an ambitious plan to increase Kenya’s tree cover from the current 12.13% to 30% over the next decade, at an estimated cost of $5 billion.
SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt — Egypt said it aims to bridge the gap between “north and south” on the negotiating table at the United Nations climate summit currently underway in the Egyptian seaside resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.
Veteran diplomat Wael Aboulmagd, who heads the Egyptian delegation, told The Associated Press Monday that his government aims to “make progress” on multiple fronts in the negotiations at the climate summit, COP27.
“We don’t have the luxury of prioritizing one area over the other,” he said.
The Egyptian diplomat said they should also address the climate change-related challenges developing countries have been facing, including finance for climate harms, known as loss and damage.
“We need to address the fundamentals of the climate finance landscape. It needs to be more equitable,” he said.
Aboulmagd declined to address criticism his government have faced over the past weeks over its human rights record, particularly the case of a jailed prominent activist, Alaa Abdel Fattah, who went on hunger strike for months before he stopped drinking water to coincide with the start of COP27.
“I can’t speak to those particular specific issues,” he said.
He said the world leaders are gathering for two weeks to address “an existential threat to humanity,” and “this is the priority of the presidency.”
SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt — Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has pledged $2.5 billion to fund regional efforts to combat climate change that his country is spearheading, in an event on COP27’s sidelines.
The crown prince said the money would support initial projects and the budget for the Middle East Green Initiative, which Saudi Arabia launched a year ago.
Salman also said the kingdom’s Public Investment Fund would target net zero carbon emissions by 2050, through a circular carbon economy approach.
The kingdom’s circular carbon strategy has been unpopular with climate change activists, who say it focuses on unreliable carbon capture and storage technologies rather than phasing out fossil fuels.
At the same event, Pakistan Prime Minister Muhammad Sharif said, “The earth has been calling for action but we, it seems, have decided to learn the hard way.” Pakistan was hit by devastating floods this summer that covered half the country, displacing millions and causing tens of billions of dollars in damage.
SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt — U.N. chief Antonio Guterres said Monday that the international community “has a duty to massively support Pakistan” in coping with the effects of devastating floods which hit the country in recent months.
The U.N. Secretary-General said the floods should considered as an example of the kind of disaster that deserves financial aid from funds being discussed for the effects of climate change.
“There is loss and there is damage,” Guterres said, adding that this should be recognized at the current U.N. climate talks in Egypt.
Speaking on the sidelines of the meeting, Guterres said one of the ways to help Pakistan would be to change existing rules and allow it to invest money which the country would otherwise spend on debt repayments for recovery and reconstruction from a natural disaster such as the floods. ___
SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt — French President Emmanuel Macron has stressed the need to support developing nations to transition away from dirty fuels and provide funding for current and future climate-related damage on Monday.
“We must transition our economies away from coal. We must also help emerging countries to do so as quickly as possible,” Macron told leaders at the U.N. climate summit in Egypt, adding that more partnerships need to be made with developing nations to help them transition to cleaner energy.
“We need a huge shock on concessional financing,” Macron said, voicing his support for funding for countries that can “no longer do business as usual” as they are too impacted by climate-related damage.
Macron also addressed the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war on climate commitments. He said: “We will not be sacrificing our climate commitments to Russia’s energy threat.”
The war in Ukraine prompted energy and food insecurity across the world, especially in Africa and in the Mediterranean region, he said.
He warned against thinking that “we have other priorities, climate can wait” because the “climate emergency is here.”
“We only have one obligation: to continue to take action,” he said.
SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt — The Netherlands and Oman have signed a declaration of intent to cooperate on hydrogen as a way of speeding up the sultanate’s energy transition.
The Dutch government says the two nations signed the agreement Monday at the United Nations climate summit in Egypt.
Dutch Climate and Energy Minister Rob Jetten says that developing hydrogen infrastructure and “increasing the share of clean hydrogen in the energy mix is a priority for both the Netherlands and Oman.”
Clean or green hydrogen is so called because it is made without any carbon emissions. Hydrogen is used in the production of fertilizer. Jetten says the agreement means that ultimately “the Netherlands can start importing green hydrogen from Oman to meet the increasing demand here.”
The Dutch government says the agreement with Oman aims to set up import and export facilities and exchanging knowledge and calls it a “starting point” for collaboration between the Dutch port of Rotterdam and the Omani port of Sohar.
SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt — Some 25 countries led by the U.S. and Ghana launched a partnership on Monday to eliminate deforestation by 2030.
The group of nations are home to more than a third of the world’s remaining forests. It’s expected $3.6 billion in private capital will be committed to the pledge during this year’s climate conference, taking total funds earmarked for forest conservation projects to $23.8 billion.
None of the three most rainforested nations – Brazil, Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of Congo – have signed up, although discussions are said to be underway.
Environmentalists warn its funding is dwarfed by investment in companies accused of destroying rainforests.
In one of his first appearances on the international stage since become British prime minister last month, Rishi Sunak said his country would live up to pledges on protecting the world’s forests made at the 2021 U.N. climate meeting in Glasgow.
“For too long the world’s forests have been undervalued and underestimated,” he said, noting the ecological and economic benefits they provide, from fostering biodiversity to providing flood protection, homes for indigenous people and sources of new medicines.
“With the loss of our forests accounting for more than 10% of global emissions, protecting them is one of the best ways of getting us back on track to 1.5 degrees,” he said, referring to the 2015 Paris accord’s most ambitious goal on capping global warming.
Sunak announced that Britain would contribute a further 90 million pounds to protecting the Congo basin, on top of 1.5 billion pounds pledged last year in Glasgow.
He called for further billions to be raised from public and private sources, and philanthropies, to help “address the economic drivers of deforestation.”
SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt — The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pledged $1.4 billion to support agricultural projects across Africa and South Asia that it said will help small farmers adapt to climate change.
The foundation’s CEO Mark Suzman announced the commitment Monday, saying it was in response to calls from African leaders to increase financing for climate adaptation.
Some of the funds will expand initiatives run by the International Fund for Agricultural Development that support women farmers, who Melinda French Gates called the “backbone” of African food systems in a a statement. Funds will also go to major agricultural research institutions.
The foundation has one of the largest endowments of any philanthropic foundation. It has supported agricultural research, information systems and the piloting of new kinds of seeds and livestock interventions in Africa since at least 2006.
SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt — Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley warned on Monday that leaders lacked “the simple political will” to “make a definable difference in the lives of the people who we have a responsibility to serve” as she called for new funding mechanisms that would allow nations to address climate change.
Mottley called for $5 trillion of private sector savings to be unlocked to stop the emissions of planet-warming gases, but added it would “require a change in the attitude” of developed countries.
She urged that nations should “look at other innovative ways to expand the lending that is available from billions to trillions.”
SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt — Former U.S. Vice-President Al Gore made an impassioned call Monday for leaders to “choose life over death” by ending the use of fossil fuels that are stoking climate change.
Gore, a long-time environmental campaigner who was among the first to raise the alarm about climate change, told leaders at this year’s U.N. climate summit in Egypt that they should turn away from destructive behavior, insisting that “we have other choices” in the form of renewable energy.
“We need to obey the first law of holes,” he said. “When you’re in one, stop digging.”
Gore called for massive amounts of private capital to be unlocked in order to fund the transition to clean energy, saying this would provide the trillions, not billions, needed.
SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt — Egyptian authorities closed off several roads on Monday around the venue where the U.N. climate summit is taking place in the seaside resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh. Nearly 50 heads of states or governments on Monday have taken the stage the first day of “high-level” international climate talks.
As the leaders headed to the conference, police closed off some roads and redirected some routes. Delegates and journalists arrived late to their events.
Michael Bloomberg, U.N. Special Envoy on Climate Ambition and Solutions, arrived late at Bloomberg/Sustainable Energy for All event which was held at a luxury hotel in Sharm.
“I apologize for being late,” he told the event participants. “They closed all the roads and you’ve never seen as many empty roads in your life.”
SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt — Environmental campaigners warned Monday that the fossil fuel industry has been “emboldened” by the current global energy crunch and efforts by some countries to invest in new gas projects, particularly in Africa.
Tasneem Essop of the Climate Action Network claimed fossil fuel companies were attending the current U.N. climate talks in Egypt “in numbers” to influence negotiations.
She urged the United Nations to put in place policies that prevent those companies from taking part in the annual meeting in future, alleging that they are engaged in “a massive greenwashing exercise.”
SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt — Nigeria’s Environment Minister Mohammed Abdullahi called for wealthy nations to show “positive and affirmative” commitments to help those developing countries that are the hardest hit by climate change.
He said Monday that even though nations are “strongly divided,” there must be “urgent and decisive action from the countries most responsible for the emissions and, of course, climate change,” he said.
“The blame game should stop,” he said, adding that the country would be “aggressive” during negotiations about financing and reparations for vulnerable countries.
SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt — The head of the United Nations warned Monday that the world is on a “highway to climate hell with our foot on the accelerator” unless drastic action is taken to curb global warming.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told world leaders gathered for this year’s climate summit in Egypt said humanity must “cooperate or perish,” saying rich industrial nations must lead the way.
But Guterres said emerging economies must also do their bit to bend the global emissions curve, calling out the world’s two biggest emitters, the United States and China, have a particular responsibility.
The U.N. urged countries to forge a “climate solidarity pact” that includes giving poor countries sufficient financial support to cope with the effects of global warming, and reiterated his call for a tax on the windfall profits of fossil fuel companies.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi warned that “the planet has become a world of suffering” in his opening remarks to leaders at the summit.
“Climate change will never stop without our intervention ... Our time here is limited and we must use every second that we have,” he said. El-Sissi also called for an end to the Russia-Ukraine war.
SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt — Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo called for wealthy nations who are more responsible for climate change to pay and compensate African nations that are among the hardest hit by the impacts of climate change.
“The damage is obvious,” he told The Associated Press on Monday. “Those who are responsible should be very, very much aware of the need to compensate others.”
He said his government needs around $561 billion to implement the country’s transition plan to clean energy, and at the same time avoid job losses in the oil and gas sector.
GENEVA — The World Trade Organization chief is acknowledging that trade contributes to carbon emissions but says a new WTO report estimates that lifting tariffs and other barriers to trade in environmentally friendly energy products could both boost exports and reduce emissions.
WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala says the Geneva-based trade body’s latest World Trade Report, whose release was timed for Monday’s opening of the U.N. climate conference, found that trade has helped prices of solar electricity to plunge 97 percent since 1990.
However, trade, like most economic activities, emits greenhouse gases — and CO2 emissions linked to international goods and services exports accounted for 30% of global carbon emissions as of 2018, the report said.
The WTO chief acknowledged the perception that trade contributes to global emissions.
“That’s exactly what we want to tackle here: That trade is seen as contributing to the carbon emissions. And this is true,” she told reporters at the conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. “But on the other hand, you couldn’t solve the climate crisis without trade. And that’s the part of the equation that has not been looked at.”
SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt — More than 100 world leaders are preparing to discuss a worsening problem that scientists’ call Earth’s biggest challenge — greenhouse gas emissions, which leads to global warming. However, observers say it will be hard to make progress given all the other things happening in the world. Dozens of heads of states or governments Monday take the stage in the first day of “high-level” international climate talks in Egypt with more to come in following days. Much of the focus will be on national leaders telling their stories of being devastated by climate disasters.
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