The COP27 U.N. climate summit, which kicked off on November 6 in Egypt, may reach a more concrete agreement this year as various climate and meteorological events have been more damaging recently and countries could finally reach a long-overdue deal to discuss compensating poor nations for mounting damages linked to global warming, Alberto Troccoli, the managing director of World Energy & Meteorology Council at the School of Environmental Studies at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, told NE Global by phone on November 9.
There are likely going to be some commitments to provide financing for the countries that have already suffered some consequences. U.N. Climate experts published a list of projects worth $120 billion that investors could back to help poorer countries cut emissions and adapt to the impacts of global warming, Reuters reported, adding that a $3 billion water transfer project between Lesotho and Botswana and a $10 million plan to improve the public water system in Mauritius were among dozens of projects listed, including 19 in Africa.
“I would expect that the countries that would receive the most help are the small islands where there is obviously more imminent risk with sea level rise,” Troccoli told NE Global.
He noted that in East Africa this year there is going to be a third drought in a row and climate change has also increased the impact. “So, countries in East Africa are suffering a lot so I would expect some support for those countries especially Ethiopia, down to part of Tanzania and Malawi as well. So, all that large area is suffering a long drought now so on that basis I think there is going to be some support,” Troccoli said.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine heightens energy, climate crisis
In his opening speech, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres noted that at least 40% of all internal conflicts have been linked to the exploitation of natural resources over the last 60 years. “To ensure durable peace, we must also commit to protecting the environment from the debilitating effects of war,” he said.
Troccoli said that the current energy crisis, which is amplified by Russia’s ongoing war against Ukraine, is temporarily slowing down the energy transition to a low-carbon economy. “I’m not sure whether it’s really backtracking. I think it’s a question more of reacting to the crisis and trying to keep the lights on,” he said, adding that all energy sources available are being used. “You don’t have other sources and you can’t bring up new renewables in a short period of time,” he said. “There is still more and more commitment towards renewables, towards hydrogen, towards electric vehicles so it’s optimistic in that regard, it’s that the war has not helped in that sense,” Troccoli said.
Troccoli noted that a more concrete agreement will probably be reached at the last minute. “At the moment, the various countries are positioning themselves. But I think the tone of the opening is more powerful than last year certainly and maybe the year before as well. Paris was probably an exception because it was built towards that specific goal of the agreement and then the following ones were a bit a milder and try to follow on that,” Troccoli said, referring to the 1.5 degrees Celsius limit set in the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement, which is recognized as a crucial global target to avoid reaching a point of no return.
“This time, there is an urgency, particularly because we’ve been observing a lot of major climatic events and meteorological events. There are a lot of disruptions in terms of the actual climate, so people are realizing we need to do something. We’re getting to a point where there is a lot of evidence that there are a lot of consequences now and the climate is changing and is costing a lot and there is also the situation of energy security with the war. So, all these things together are now pointing towards taking some action,” Troccoli said.
Australia droughts and floods
Australia is also suffering the effects of climate change. “We have flooding now. Only this year there have been two major floods around the same area in February and in last month north New South Wales has flooded quite a lot, which included part of Sydney,” Troccoli said, who is based in Australia. “It’s part of the same phenomenon that is bringing a lot of rain in East Africa is bringing excess rain here in eastern Australia. It has to do with El Nińo Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and La Niña – and also other climatic oscillations at a large scale. These are persisting for three years which is not rare but it’s not so common. We are through another period of high rain here in Australia also for the coming summer, part of the same phenomenon,” he explained.
A 2022 report published recently by the WMO State of Climate Services focuses on energy, an issue that is of great significance to communities in every corner of the globe, and that affects every economic sector. “Reaching net zero by 2050 will mean a complete transformation of our global energy system, with a switch to lower emissions electricity production and increased energy efficiency at the heart of the worldwide response,” the report reads, adding, however, that the transition to clean energy calls for investment in improved weather, water and climate services that can be used to ensure global energy infrastructure is resilient to climate-related shocks and inform measures to increase energy efficiency across multiple sectors.
Meanwhile, there is good progress with new technologies like green hydrogen and storage. “Particularly now what is happening here in Australia but also in other parts because the cost of electricity is going up, many people are now investing not only in solar PV but also solar PV with battery and that’s becoming quite affordable and can be repaid within a few to several years rather than more than ten,” Troccoli said. “Obviously, what this does is it will reduce the price over time because production increases as has happened with the PV panel cost, which has dropped enormously in the last ten years, and this is expected to happen for battery storage and as well for electric vehicles,” he said, adding: “I think we’re now accelerating this process.”