Commentary

COP 27 Egypt: What might it accomplish?

Consideration of contributing factors to our environment's declining health

Photo by Eelco Böhtlingk on Unsplash
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Editor’s note: This is one in a continuing series of guest opinions about fostering environmental stewardship and leadership. The series is coordinated by ACES, the Alliance of Climate and Environmental Stewards.

After the enthusiasm of COP 26’s prospective gains and commitment to climate actions, the COP 27 summit in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, starting this Sunday will take place amid confusion and backsliding in implementation of needed climate action.

When Russia invaded the Ukraine with all its terrible climate harming missile and munitions blasts, the world went into a period of disbelief and shock. Then it scrambled and improvised to cope with the auxiliary economic and health blow back from the war. Many of their responses and strategies crosscut differently in the way they effect climate.

With Russia using oil and gas as a weapon to squeeze Europe forcing them to abandon Ukraine, many market participants sought for ways to cope by urging reductions in energy use, or perhaps to make war time profits by opening up more oil and gas leases, keeping coal generating plants scheduled for shutdown operating for longer.

While these pro-fossil fuel actions seem like a short-term good idea given inflation and the coming cold winter in Europe, in the long run, they are terrible for climate.

Germany continued burning more coal than its plan and its commitment to COP26. Britain changed prime ministers and welcomed a new King Charles. The former a Tory seen as somewhat ‘soft’ on climate issues and the later, a long-time climate advocate. But in the arcane, a least to us Americans, way of British government the prime minister said he wasn’t going to go then changed his mind as is going. And the King face into his obligation to remain a-political and is forecast to not be there and to lower his advocacy voice for climate, at least in public. President Biden will be there and whatever the election noise next week back home, his presence will send a strong signal that America wants to do the right things about climate.

Meanwhile, giant fossil fuel corporations like Exxon Mobil took it as an opportunity to lobby harder for more oil leases and drilling permits. While other companies, like General Motors, decided they are ‘all in’ for electric vehicles and are rolling out a full range of EVs.

In the United States, the COVID relief bills and the Inflation Reduction Act are bringing lots of funding for projects to cope in various ways with global warming and its resulting processes including sea level rise and worsening flooding and droughts. On a regional basis, the Merrimack River’s issues in Newburyport and Lowell are, as of this week, getting project money committed as are many other Massachusetts and U.S. cities and states. It helps that Massachusetts Congressional members, like Richard Neal and Katherine Clark, held key positions in the last session of Congress. It’s another proof point that elections have consequences for all residents of this region.

One is tempted to overuse the quote from “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens about our time being both “the best and worst of times”.

The COP27 sessions start this weekend and lasts until Nov. 18. Coincidentally, between local, regional, and national elections next Tuesday and the final counting and perhaps run-off, you may be hard pressed to see this global gathering at the top of your news broadcast or running in banner headlines in the local papers. But please try to follow it a bit. Please plan to vote if you haven’t already. Every vote for a candidate who understands the importance of pro-active environmental stewardship for the well-being of our future generations – more exactly our children and theirs – is very important.

Accordingly, while you are making your choices, please consider the matter of the long-term health of our planet and the environment as one of your personal priorities.

This column was coordinated by ACES youth corps member Ana Satir. To share any comments or questions, please send an email to acesnewburyport@gmail.com. To learn more about ACES and its Initiatives, visit https://www.aces-alliance.org.


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