The 27th Conference of the Parties, COP27, came to a close 2 days later than expected. How those poor delegates survived an extra two days at the resort town of Sharm El-Sheik, I’ll never know. Oh, the horror!
The conference, with the theme of Together for Implementation, started with Al Gore giving a rousing speech full of scientifically backed facts.
Just kidding. Of course, that didn’t happen.
Instead, in perfect, prepared cadence, he claimed “things are getting steadily worse”. He implied fossil fuels are a curse. He wants governments to “stop subsidizing the culture of death” to end our addiction to fossil fuels. He predicts the end of self-governance due to the billion people migrating because of climate change – he hasn’t been very good at predicting the future, though.
IT IS NEVER ENOUGH
It seems very few were happy with the conference’s outcomes. Most frustratingly for the climate zealots was the failure to progress the commitment from COP26 to phase down coal use, let alone come to agreement to phase down the usage of all fossil fuels.
The final agreement that called for an “increase in low-emission” energy and renewables, really caught their ire. Fossil fuels may still be produced with the help of carbon capture initiatives, and that is simply unacceptable to those solely focused on the destruction of those industries.
It’s almost as if governments are leery of turning off the taps to reliable energy sources during an energy security crisis. Who could have guessed? And if emissions reductions are the ultimate goal of the COP, shouldn’t the proven use of carbon capture technology receive a standing ovation? It’s almost like it isn’t actually about emissions reductions…
EU Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans fretted that the final agreement was “not enough of a step forward for people and planet”, claiming, “It does not address the yawning gap between climate science, and our climate policies.” Perhaps he’s not aware that their current climate policies are not doing much for people or the planet right now as energy security concerns cause citizens to burn wood to stay warm as temperatures plumet. Where’s the compassion for the most vulnerable? Below 10C, the body starts to shut down to focus on keeping the core functioning.
The EU wanted major economies to enhance their climate goals, fancifully called Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Are they like an NFT – non-fungible token – an intangible that represents something, but isn’t anything, and is bought and sold for exorbitant amounts of money as if it was worth something? They all appear to be made up to me.
WALK OUT, DON’T STAND
Some were more unhappy than others. Unsurprisingly, there was more political posturing and PR stunting than progress. Those who scream the loudest about the need to reduce emissions tend to reach tortured hyena-level screeching when oil and gas companies have actual technological plans to reduce emissions. It’s almost as if it’s not actually about achieving emissions reductions…
In a daring act, Canada’s oil sands producers sent representatives to the confab to talk about their Pathways to Net Zero Alliance. But, of course, that cannot be allowed. “Big Oil” cannot be allowed to speak, certainly not somewhere where people can hear them!
The overt disgust by environmentalists was in turbo mode. How dare the experts and solution-providers show up to talk about the technology of energy!
Stand.earth staged a walkout from the Canada Pavilion just to prove it. Maybe their followers should have stayed and learned something? Nah, informed people are harder to control.
I, for one, commend the oil sands producers for having the courage to attend the conference knowing that it would be a hostile environment rife with grifters willing to use their attendance to bring publicity to their own cause at the expense of thoughtful, fact-based dialogue that may produce solutions.
I believe that the majority of the 35,000+ attendees could have easily participated virtually, and I wish they would have; however, I support Alberta’s decision to send delegates. A different conversation occurs when people are face-to-face, and it was valuable to send a small number of influential industry decision-makers and policymakers.
As much as I find the COPs and other UN-affiliated conferences to be too much talk at too much expense, I believe the benefits gained by Alberta’s oil and gas industry sending representation outweighed the costs. Not being present when decisions are being made that affect you (or the province and industry, in this case) rarely results in a preferred outcome.
MONEY, MONEY, MONEY
Two of the world’s most indebted countries – USA and Japan – led a coalition of countries that pledged $20 billion to shift Indonesia’s power sector to clean energy sources through a public/private-financed program called the Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP). Canada couldn’t not be a part of it, of course.
This pledge is in addition to the crowning achievement – the reason for the conference extension – the “loss and damage” agreement. Developed nations committed to pay into a fund that will compensate for climate change-related damages in poorer, vulnerable countries. With no details finalized, including which side of the ledger China would be on, the cost burdens are unknown. Specifics will be sorted out another day. It was late and there was a swimming pool waiting…
CANADA’S PLEDGES AND COMMITMENTS
In an unexpected twist, Canada’s Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault would not agree to the inclusion of a commitment in the final agreement to phase out all fossil fuels – this means oil and gas too. With the myriad of existing and forthcoming regulations and restrictions on Canadian oil and gas, there’s hardly a need for Canada to capitulate to global requirements. Turns out it’s much easier to climb towers and make proclamations than it is to govern.
But don’t fret, Canada’s climate-focused federal government didn’t leave without making some headline worthy promises.
Canada pushed for global carbon pricing. We joined the Joint Declaration from Energy Importers and Exporters on Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Fossil Fuels and the International Methane Emissions Observatory to help monitor and share methane emissions data gathered by satellites.
We generously announced $84.25 million in funding for initiatives through the $5.3 billion international climate finance commitment, including $24 million for loss and damage. If the government kills the golden goose laying the oily egg, where will this money come from?
That’s for another day. We’ll see you all in Montreal for the UN conference on biodiversity (COP15) in December.