“With COP27 we have lost a year. The target of 1.5°C is doomed”

Frans Timmermans, Dutch Vice President of the European Commission responsible for the Green Deal, expresses his “big disappointment” after the climate conference (COP27) in Sharm-El-Sheikh, Egypt, and outlines the prospects for environmental action in Europe.

“The world will not thank us,” you responded at the end of COP27. Do you think the results are no match for the climate crisis?

This COP27 was very disappointing. No mention of the end of fossil fuels, no mention of a date for the peak of greenhouse gas emissions, no update of the so-called national reduction commitments… Nothing has been done about reducing emissions. We’ve lost a year. We even had to fight like crazy not to go back, to save COP26’s performance in Glasgow [Ecosse]. It’s not enough.

In Glasgow we said goodbye to the commitment that the most emitting countries would launch more ambitious projects to further reduce emissions. Most don’t. If we lose more time, it means that we have even more to do in the time that remains. It is becoming increasingly difficult politically and technically.

Does this mean that the goal of limiting global warming to less than 1.5°C has become unattainable?

The target of 1.5°C is doomed but still alive. The more time passes, the harder it becomes to hold on. And the more the measures to be taken will be costly and painful. That is why we must use all the time we have left: every year, every month, every week, every day. This target depends not only on Europe, but also on the G20 countries, which are responsible for 80% of global emissions. So if there is no real change in China, India and the other G20 countries, we will never get there.

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When we look at the investments these two countries are making in renewable energy, it is still remarkable, especially in China. I still have hope that the latter can reach the peak of its emissions well before 2030. In this case, 1.5°C remains possible. So we have to work with the Chinese to get there.

The agreement on financing “losses and damages” for the countries most vulnerable to global warming was nevertheless described as historic…

This is the great success of this COP27. And we owe that in part to the European Union [UE], because it was our proposal that was accepted. This means that we can restore relations between North and South.

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