Egypt: Skeptical voices before the start of the COP27 world climate conference

Before the start of the COP27 world climate conference in Egypt, the expectations of the around 200 participating countries for even more commitments to climate protection are increasing.

Egypt: Skeptical voices before the start of the COP27 world climate conference

Before the start of the COP27 world climate conference in Egypt, the expectations of the around 200 participating countries for even more commitments to climate protection are increasing. At the same time, the conference was overshadowed by a number of interlocking crises in energy, nutrition, the economy and growing national debt. The mood seems more subdued than in Glasgow a year ago, when the COP26 started with comparatively good prospects.

Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier was skeptical about the chances of success. The world is entering a new period of conflict, if not confrontation, Steinmeier said on Saturday in the South Korean city of Busan. "It is difficult to imagine that in times of conflict and even military confrontation, states like Russia or China will play a constructive role in and after Sharm el-Sheikh."

40,000 participants are expected at the conference, which begins on Sunday and is taking place in Africa for the first time since 2016. On Saturday, participants flocked to the Red Sea city, which is otherwise best known as a holiday resort with beautiful beaches. Sharm el Sheikh was beautified for the conference with new streets and palm trees.

Cautious climate scientists

The renowned climate economist Ottmar Edenhofer also has very low expectations of the two-week meeting in the Egyptian seaside resort of Sharm el Sheikh. It was about "building a relationship of trust again," said the director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, the F.A.Z. (Saturday edition). It was "almost like a therapy session". Among other things, there are "massive distribution conflicts" on the subject of money, for example for climate protection in poorer countries.

Climate researcher Mojib Latif also expressed resignation. "There are no breakthroughs," said the President of the Academy of Sciences in Hamburg of the Bayern media group. The conferences are "not effective" because "papers with little substance are celebrated as great progress". At what is now the 27th World Climate Conference, the result so far has been "that global CO2 emissions have exploded."

In Egypt, at the UN conference, known as COP27, almost 200 countries are discussing for two weeks how the fight against global warming can be stepped up. Time is of the essence, as the past seven years have been the warmest since weather records began. Extreme weather events in Pakistan, Nigeria and Somalia, among others, but also in Europe this year showed the enormous damage and deadly destructive power of climate change.

According to researchers, global emissions of climate-damaging greenhouse gases must be reduced by around half by 2030. There is no other way to achieve the goal jointly agreed at the UN climate conference in Paris in 2015 of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees compared to pre-industrial times. According to the climate protection plans currently presented by the states, however, they would even increase further.

Criticism of host Egypt

Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) wants to travel to Egypt next week and take part in the conference for two days. A total of around 100 heads of state and government are expected.

Egypt's government of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is repeatedly criticized for the human rights situation. Freedom of speech and freedom of the press have been massively curtailed. Human rights activists repeatedly report serious violations. A particularly prominent figure is the democracy activist Alaa Abdel Fattah, who has been imprisoned for years and who, after a hunger strike for months starting on Sunday - at the same time as the start of COP27 - also does not want to drink any more water. His condition is becoming increasingly life-threatening.

The German government must address these violations openly, the human rights organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) demanded. The Egyptian government can use the COP presidency "to convey an image of openness and tolerance, even though political repression (...) has caused one of the country's worst human rights crises in decades," HRW expert Katharina Rall told the editorial network Germany (RND).

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