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Climate. Change. News from the ground, in a warming world

 

By Megan Rowling | Just Transition Editor

As the COP27 climate summit kicked off, U.N. boss António Guterres didn't mince his words. "We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot on the accelerator,” he warned the 120 or so assembled world leaders.

And just in case they dared to think other crises, like the conflict in Ukraine, might be more deserving of their attention, the world's top diplomat told heads of state on Monday that "it is unacceptable, outrageous and self-defeating" to put climate change on the back-burner.

But who's listening? Countries on the frontlines of global warming - such as Pakistan, Kenya and Tuvalu - sent their presidents and prime ministers to Egypt to shine a spotlight on the climate "loss and damage" they are facing - from floods to famine. 

Yet, among the big emitters, China and India's leaders are a no-show, U.S. President Joe Biden will only come after the mid-term elections are out of the way, and Britain’s PM Rishi Sunak had to be shamed into attending, after his predecessor effectively banned King Charles from the event.

That doesn't augur too well for one of the main demands from poorer countries at the talks: real progress on financing to help them repair warming-fuelled loss and damage, ideally in the form of a new fund for that purpose. 

Guterres says concrete results on loss and damage will be "a litmus test of the commitment of governments to the success of COP27".

Following relief that the contentious issue at least made it onto the summit agenda - and even that took much wrangling - it's far from clear we'll head out of Sharm el-Sheikh with the ink drying on a deal to set up a fund.

 

 

Cape Coast Castle, a 17th century slave post, on the Cape Coast, Ghana. August 9, 2022. Thomson Reuters Foundation/Nipah Dennis

Heritage at risk

 

It's not just people, homes and livelihoods that are threatened by loss and damage.

From the snow-capped peak of Mount Kilimanjaro to the ruins of the ancient Tunisian city of Carthage and Senegal's slave island of Gorée, Africa has a wealth of iconic cultural and natural heritage sites.

But climate change impacts, from higher temperatures to worsening floods, may condemn these and dozens more African landmarks to the history books, as our correspondents across the continent report. 

At the same time, a clutch of African governments, including Egypt, are arguing they should be allowed to exploit their planet-heating gas reserves as a way to boost economic growth, lift people out of poverty and provide them with access to electricity and cleaner cooking.

Charges of hypocrisy and neo-colonialism are rife, as European nations preach about the need to ditch fossil fuels while hunting around for fresh supplies to replace Russian gas and avoid an energy crisis this winter.

African governments aren't buying it - or at least not without substantially larger sums of money on offer to entice them down a greener development pathway. 

 

 

 

 

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