The former US vice-president Al Gore is on fist-waving, passionate form in front of world leaders at Cop27.
“We continue to use the thin blue atmosphere as an open sewer,” he says. “It is getting steadily worse. We have a credibility problem – all of us – we are not doing enough.”
Gore says we can continue the “culture of death” by continuing to dig up fossil fuels, and cites vast floods in Pakistan, heatwaves and “rain bombs” in China, and a million displaced in Nigeria.
“The current areas of the world considered uninhabitable by doctors are small today but due to expand,” he says, with 1 billion migrants potentially crossing international borders this century, with all the colossal difficulties that would bring. If we stop subsidising the culture of death and back renewable energy instead we can survive, Gore says, and no new fossil fuel projects are acceptable.
He says the dash for gas in Africa, a contentious issue at COP27, is a new form of colonisation, with the fuel to be sent to rich nations. He quotes the late archbishop Desmond Tutu as saying climate change is the apartheid of our time. He also warns about stranded assets of billions, especially in Africa, if climate action closes oil and gas plants early.
Instead, Gore says, “Africa can be a renewable energy superpower”. He says 40% of world potential is in Africa.
Gore joins rich and poor nations in calling for a complete reform of the World Bank system to get money to developing nations.
“It is a time for moral clarity, not reckless indifference,” he finishes. We have hope, Gore says, with the people of Brazil, Australia and US electing leaders who will take climate action. “There is a path to a future with hope.”
Rishi Sunak, the UK prime minister, is currently hosting a forest event. Though I was told earlier by the Palace that King Charles would not be appearing “in any shape or form at Cop27”, the monarch has in fact shown up – in a pre-recorded video. The event started with a film narrated by David Attenborough and featuring the king and Joe Biden. Alok Sharma, the president of Cop26, looked absorbed on his phone in his second row seat. My colleague Fiona Harvey caught the scene on camera.
Emmanuel Macron, the French president, and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak have had what looks like a rather jovial meeting on the sidelines of Cop.
The more than 100 world leaders at Cop27 have begun making statements. We can expect Rishi Sunak later on. Stay tuned for what representatives from each country have to say.
They were preceded by the UN’s chief climate official, Simon Stiell, who implored them to act fast. Time is short to prevent the terrible dangers of runaway climate change, he said. “As soon as you touch down at home, send an email to your cabinet asking: ‘How are we strengthening our climate plans this year?’”
Denis Sassou Nguesso, president of the Republic of the Congo, is first up. Cop27 must be a Cop for action, he says. After so many promises unkept the time has come to move to tangible acts, he says – at stake is our credibility and the crucial survival of humanity.
Sassou Nguesso says preserving the huge forests in Congo is vital and adds that for 40 years everyone in Congo has been urged to plant a tree every year on 6 November, the day Cop27 began.
After a weekend of back and forth between the polluting industrialised countries most responsible for global heating and the developing countries most affected by their fossil fuel addiction, loss and damage is on the Cop agenda for the first time. Pushing hard for this was Pakistani envoy Nabeel Munir, chief negotiator for the G77 plus China negotiating block, and it’s one of the principle demands for almost all developing and climate vulnerable nations.
“This is the beginning of what will be a slow and painful process, for developed and developing countries, and it wasn’t easy to get it on the agenda, but it’s there and it’s a beginning, and we wanted that to happen at a Cop hosted by a developing country,” said Munir. “It’s a big achievement that the other side is beginning to accept that what we’re saying is fair. Loss and damage is not charity, it’s climate justice.”
It will come way too late to help Pakistan rebuild after a catastrophic climate year that included drought and extreme heat events followed by unprecedented heavy rains that led to a third of the country under water. “Pakistan is a resilient country, we of course want and expect help from developing countries, but realistically we know that this won’t come from loss and damage, that fund is for the future when climate disasters hit Pakistan and other countries.
Some island nations have been pushing for loss and damage funding for 30 years, and face being wiped out by rising sea levels, yet there’s no timeline on when – or if – a loss and damage funding mechanism will be established. “It’s hard to say what an acceptable timeline is, but we must have something clear and tangible on loss and damage for Cop27 to be a success … and a final decision by Cop29 (2024) at the latest. And a recommitment from developed countries to fulfil the commitments they’ve made on climate finance.
The 2015 Paris agreement by wealthy countries to provide $100bn annually in climate finance for adaptation and mitigation for poorer nationals by 2020 has not been met, which Munir says is “technically a default” – even though no single country had agreed a particular amount. Apart from the UK, which has come under particular criticism for failing to deliver the full $300m to the e Green Climate Fund (GCF) by its September deadline. “Britain was unable to come up with that money, so that’s clearly a default,” said Munir.
UN secretary general, António Guterres, has said the international community has a duty to provide more support to Pakistan after flooding devastated the country in July and August, likely made worse by the climate crisis.
Speaking at a joint event in Pakistan’s pavilion along side the country’s prime minister, Shehbaz Sharif, – the words “What goes on in Pakistan will not stay in Pakistan” behind them – Guterres said countries had “a duty to massively support Pakistan in this moment”.
“There are moments in our life that are unforgettable and that mark you deeply. My last visit to Pakistan was one of these moments. To see an area flooded that is three times the size of my country Portugal, to see the loss of life, the loss of crops, livelihoods, to see the dramatic impact in the lives of people all over the country … And at the same time, to see the courage and resilience and generosity of the Pakistani people [stuck with me].
“Women and men, that have decided to leave their property, their essence, to go and rescue other people in the neighbourhood instead of protecting their own… These examples of generosity are examples that should be imitated by the international community,” he said.
Sharif said that the world must “not let helplessness become a death sentence in this race against time. What goes on in Pakistan will not stay in Pakistan. Let’s stand up and say no to this before it’s too late.”.
Huge lakes of stagnant water have transformed the landscape of the south of Pakistan, where crops would have fed millions and livestock would have saved families from destitution. We are picking up the pieces as we speak.
The latest estimates have calculated the loss and damage at $30bn. Our journey to recovery will be held back by increasing public debt, rising global energy prices and no real access to adaptation finance.
We have mobilised every available resource.
At the broader level, we see to add loss and damage to the climate agenda. We hope that all countries come to Cop27 in the spirit [addressing Guterres] you champion of climate justice for all.
While politicians, diplomats and activists from around the world meet in Egypt, the UK government’s net zero tsar is holding a strange summit of his own back on home turf.
Conservative MP Chris Skidmore, who is leading the government’s net zero review, has revealed that he has been meeting with the Net Zero Scrutiny Group; a selection of MPs who believe the country is acting too far and too fast when it comes to climate targets.
Craig Mackinlay, the MP for Thanet, leads the controversial group of around 20 MPs, and told the BBC that he and Skidmore had already “got agreement on some things” related to net zero, such as the need for better home insulation. He said a meeting with Skidmore was in the works.
Opposition MPs have reacted with disgust. Caroline Lucas, the Green MP, said “climate delayers should be nowhere near government policy”, and Lib Dem Wera Hobhouse said the meeting was “worrying” and “sends completely the wrong signal” in the month of Cop27.
Rishi Sunak must come clean on the UK’s climate finance shortfall, the Green party has said ahead of his speech this afternoon.
At Cop26, former prime minister Boris Johnson pledged to boost spending on supporting the nations most at risk from the impacts of the climate emergency. However, figures suggest the UK has only paid £1.3bn of the £2.3bn a year pledged, and the Greens say the “government has refused to reveal exactly how much it has short-changed the countries in greatest need”.
Green party co-leader Adrian Ramsay said:
Ahead of Rishi Sunak’s speech to Cop27 this afternoon, we call on the government to come clean and reveal exactly how far short the UK has fallen in its contributions towards climate finance – a crucial fund to support those poorer countries on the front line of the climate crisis but which have done little to contribute to the problem.
It is suggested that the UK may have short-changed the fund by a whopping billion pounds. But let’s see the figures. What we do know is that collectively the rich nations have consistently failed to meet a $100bn annual target on climate finance, and that the UK government is party to this failure. We also know the government has raided the overseas aid budget to pay for climate finance when it pledged that it would be additional money. And the aid budget itself has already been cut from 0.7% to 0.5% of GDP.
The prime minister must use his speech today to pledge he will deliver the UK’s overdue climate finance. The whole Cop process risks failure unless richer countries deliver climate justice by paying their fair share. Any claims of global leadership by Rishi Sunak will sound hollow when we are failing to meet our own promises to the countries most affected by the climate crisis.
Some cafes and restaurants have run out of food and water at the Cop27, according to delegates, with long queues across the site in Sharm El-Sheikh.
“Everyone is asking where to get food. It’s really hard to find vegetarian food especially. Yesterday there was only meat options,” said one delegate from a European country.
The lack of sustenance is understood to be affecting negotiations, with no food left for delegates on Saturday during overnight talks.
“In the grab and go places, they told us there is no food left. It’s better organised than Glasgow – the queues were terrible in Scotland – but food here is a problem. It really matters!” said a delegate from an NGO waiting in a queue.
Long queues could be seen across the site, with some saying they had been waiting 45 minutes to get a snack.
“This is the third time I’ve tried to queue for food. In some places, the water has run out. I’ve still not got food,” said a woman waiting in a queue. “I’m hoping for something to keep me going for the day but there’s only croissants.”
The Cop27 presidency has been contacted for comment.
Hello! I’m Helena Horton, an environment reporter at the Guardian, and I’ll be taking you through Cop27 for the rest of the day.
While looking at the online agenda for the opening ceremony, my colleague Damian Carrington spotted that King Charles was listed as speaking. Could he be making a surprise video appearance, like that by the late Queen at Cop26 last year?
We asked the Palace, and they said he was listed in error. A spokesperson said: “I’m afraid that information is incorrect, he will not be making an appearance or statement in any shape or form, virtual or otherwise.”
The monarch was earlier advised by Rishi Sunak not to attend the climate event, despite his decades of campaigning on the subject. But the fact he was listed perhaps suggests his attendance was expected.
The king last week hosted a Cop27 event at Buckingham Palace, attended by important figures from around the world, to start off the summit.
The leaders are taking a break, and I will be handing over to my colleague Helena Horton.
A summary of the morning:
The Cop27 high level segment for heads of states and government was officially declared open by the Egyptian president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi.
Before the session opened, Boris Johnson told an audience this is “not the moment to go weak on net zero” or to let Putin get away with his war in Ukraine.
UN secretary general, Antònio Guterres, called for a climate solidarity pact, and warned that we are on the “highway to climate hell”.
Al Gore, the US politician who did so much to raise awareness of this issue, pleaded for leaders to end what he calls “this culture of death” and argued that “Africa can be a renewable energy superpower”.
And the row about oil and gas exploitation in Africa – which will undoubtedly be one of the key themes of this year’s Cop – is under way. The African Energy Chamber believes that natural gas will be vital for a just energy transition, but NGO leaders such as Mohamed Adow argue that Africa must not be turned into “Europe’s gas station”.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/live/2022/nov/07/cop27-egypt-climate-summit-boris-johnson-net-zero-live Cop27: UN chief warns of ‘highway to climate hell’ as Al Gore condemns ‘culture of death’ – live | Cop27