COP27: Sunak attends climate summit

Climate leadership needs action, not words
  Published:  07 Nov 2022    |      5 minute read
  • Friends of the Earth spokespeople available in the UK and Egypt.

As Rishi Sunak prepares to address the international community at the UN summit on climate change [COP27], Friends of the Earth is urging his government to show real leadership on this crucial issue.

Despite hosting last year’s climate summit in Glasgow and holding the current COP presidency (until Sunday) the UK government is falling short on climate commitments. Last week, Lord Deben, chair of the Committee on Climate Change, the UK’s independent climate advisor, warned the UK’s delivery on climate change has been “appalling”.

The UK is currently way off-track for meeting its legally binding climate targets. And following a legal challenge by Friends of the Earth and others earlier this year, the government’s Net Zero Strategy was ruled to be unlawful because ministers hadn’t shown how legally binding targets will be met.

Rachel Kennerley, international climate campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said:

“With the climate clock ticking ever closer to midnight, tougher action to slash planet-heating emissions is now more urgent than ever.

"Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s decision to attend the summit is a welcome step, but he must back it up with bold government action.

“This must include rejecting a new coal mine in Cumbria, ending UK funding for a hugely damaging gas project in Mozambique, and committing more money to poorer nations on the frontlines of a crisis they have done the least to cause.

“Fast-tracking the transition to a cleaner, greener future will also bring huge benefits for people and the economy and help provide long-term solutions to the cost of living and energy crises.

“The Prime Minister must also remove the barriers to onshore wind and solar, which are cheap, quick to build and popular with the public, and roll out a street-by-street home insulation programme to cut gas use, reduce bills, and help keep people warm.”

Friends of the Earth welcomed Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s decision last month to reintroduce a ban on fracking and is urging him to go much further to make the transformation to a fairer, green future a top priority. This should include:

  • Ending funding for an environmentally damaging gas mega-project in Mozambique.

Despite promising to stop funding overseas gas and oil projects, the UK government is continuing to help fund the project with over $1bn of UK taxpayers’ money through UK Export Finance (UKEF). A Friends of the Earth judicial review against the government’s decision will be heard by the Court of Appeal in December.

  • Rejecting a planning application for a new coal mine in Cumbria.

A decision on the controversial mine was due in the run up to the Climate summit in Egypt, but it has been postponed until after the talks and is now due “on or before 8 December”.

  • Committing significant funding to help poorer nations to deal with the growing impacts of the climate emergency – a crisis the UK and other wealthy industrialised nations have done the most to cause.
  • Ending the licensing of new gas and oil projects in the North Sea
  • Removing the planning barriers to onshore wind and solar and investing in a nationwide street by street home insulation programme – part funded by a bigger, bolder windfall tax on soaring fossil fuel firm profits.

ENDS

UN COP27 CLIMATE TALKS

The UN COP27 climate talks are taking place in Sharm el Sheikh from 6-18 November 2022.

The UK government, which hosted last year’s COP26 in Glasgow, will hand over the presidency to Egypt at the beginning of the negotiations.

The summit will bring together 197 countries and global civil society to negotiate how to deal with the climate crisis. At these talks, governments negotiate the actions and rules for addressing climate change.

With scientists warning that there’s no credible pathway in place to limit global temperature rises below 1.5 degrees tougher action is needed more than ever.

There are a number of key issues on the COP27 agenda including gas extraction in Africa, emission cuts that don’t go far enough or fast enough, and the provision of financial support for people, communities and countries to deal with the negative consequences of climate breakdown, otherwise known as ‘loss and damage.’

Friends of the Earth is urging wealthy industrial nations to take a lead by acting fastest and with the most impact, as they bear most of the historic responsibility for creating this crisis.

Friends of the Earth is calling for the summit to lead to bold action on the following issues:

· Finance for ‘loss and damage’

‘Loss and damage’ is set to be one of the key issues at this year’s climate summit.

The debate centres around the amount of financial support that rich countries should provide to developing nations to help them deal with, and adapt to, the impacts of the accelerating climate crisis.

Wealthy countries, like the UK, have contributed most to the historic climate emissions that have exacerbated climate change, while poorer nations, that have emitted the least, are facing the biggest impacts. At last year’s climate summit in Glasgow, demands for a loss and damage finance facility were put forward by many countries suffering the worst impacts of climate change. This proposal was blocked by rich, global north countries like the US and Germany, that pushed for three years of talks, called the Glasgow Dialogue, and suggested other solutions like insurance schemes.

Friends of the Earth is calling for rich nations to take responsibility for their huge impact on climate change and stop trying to wriggle out of compensating poorer countries for loss and damage.

· End the dash for gas in Africa

The new dash for gas in Africa is shaping up to be a major issue at COP27. European governments – using attempts to reduce their reliance on Russian gas, the energy price crisis and the argument that gas is necessary for development as justifications – are striking new deals with African countries to supply gas and encourage the building of new gas infrastructure.

Friends of the Earth says the rich industrialised nations should be encouraging African nations to develop clean and sustainable economies and energy infrastructure to help them deal with the challenges and opportunities of developing a zero-carbon future. This should include funding and investment to help the continent take advantage of its huge renewable energy potential, as well as better access to renewable energy technology without intellectual property patents, and education on these technologies.

Two years ago, the UK government committed to stop funding overseas gas and oil projects, a move welcomed by Friends of the Earth. But astonishingly, the UK government is continuing to fund a massive Liquified Natural Gas project in Mozambique with $1.15 billion of taxpayer's money through UK Export Finance (UKEF).

The highly controversial scheme will have a massive climate impact. The construction phase alone was estimated to increase the greenhouse gas emissions of Mozambique by up to 10% by 2022. On top of this the project is already driving displacement, conflict and horrendous human rights and environmental abuses.

Friends of the Earth is urging ministers to end financial support for the gas project and is challenging the government in the courts. A judicial review into the government’s decision to fund the project will be heard by the Court of Appeal later this year (6-8 December).

More information on Friends of the Earth’s legal challenge is here.

A Just Recovery Renewable Energy Plan for Africa, by Friends of the Earth Africa is here

  • Leave coal in the ground

Friends of the Earth says the case against the mine is overwhelming. It will increase emissions, will not replace Russian coal imports, and the market for its coal is rapidly diminishing with steel plants across Europe (the intended market for the coal) moving to greener production methods.

The mine is opposed by the UK COP26 president Alok Sharma, while the chair of the UK’s Committee on Climate Change, Lord Deben has described it as “absolutely indefensible.”

A Friends of the Earth briefing on the Cumbrian coal mine is here.