Anti-fossil fuel pact launched at UN climate summit

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt – A small island nation leader said the world should face climate change the way it uses nuclear weapons, by agreeing to a nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

Tuvalu’s proposal comes as vulnerable countries have pushed for more action and money at international climate talks in Egypt, while major polluters still remain. division of who should pay for the damage caused by industrial greenhouse gas emissions to the planet.

“We all know that the leading cause of the climate crisis is fossil fuels,” Tuvalu Prime Minister Karors Natano told his leaders.

The Pacific nation has “joined Vanuatu and other countries in calling for a fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty,” Natano said. So prioritizing strategies that work quickly is essential.”

Vanuatu and Tuvalu, along with other vulnerable nations, have flexed their moral authority in the negotiations, in light of recent climate-related disasters. The idea of ​​a non-proliferation treaty for coal, oil and natural gas has previously been supported by campaigners, religious authorities including the Vatican and some scientists, but the Natano’s speech created an even bigger hit in front of a global audience.

A year ago at the climate talks in Glasgow, a proposal calling for “getting rid of” coal – the dirtiest fossil fuel – was changed at the last minute to “diminished” by demand from India. India, causing outrage among small island states and some vulnerable countries.

Since then, the global energy crisis caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has led to a scramble by a number of countries and companies looking to tap new sources of gas and oil.

Pushing back against that, vulnerable countries also called for a global tax on the profits of fossil fuel corporations that are making billions of dollars a day from sky-high energy prices.

“The time has come for these companies to pay a global carbon tax on their profits as a source of funding for loss and damage,” said Gaston Browne, prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda. “The profitable producers of fossil fuels have benefited from profits disproportionate to the costs of human civilization.”

The idea of ​​a tax on carbon gains has gained traction in recent months amid sky-high earnings for oil and gas corporations even as consumers struggle to pay the cost of heating their homes. and refuel. For the first time, delegates at this year’s United Nations climate conference discussed the developing world’s demand that the richest, most polluted countries pay for the damage caused by climate change. caused to them, which in the climate negotiations are called “loss and damage”.

Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley said fossil fuel companies should contribute to those funds, which will provide vulnerable countries with financial aid for the climate-related damage they are doing. have to bear.

Other leaders rejected the idea.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told reporters: “I think this is not the place now to formulate tax rules, but to develop together protections against the consequences of climate change. Queen.

If small islands can’t be taxed globally on fossil fuel profits, then Antigua’s Browne proposes to an international court to order polluters to pay for what they’ve done. Scientists from Dartmouth College have calculated the specific damage for all countries in the world and the extent of damage caused by other countries, saying it will work well in international courts .

Browne cited William Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” to share his frustration with the lack of action.

“Tomorrow, tomorrow, and tomorrow pass in this petty pace from day to day until the last syllable of recorded time. And all of our past days illuminate the dusty path to death,” Browne said.

Despite 27 climate summits, “tomorrow has not yet come,” he said.

Speaking about a country suffering from the consequences of climate change recently, the Somali president said the country faced “one of the worst droughts in modern history”.

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said more than 7 million Somalis, or about half of the population, were unable to meet their basic food needs as the Horn of Africa region has seen two years of erratic rain.

“We’re trying desperately to accommodate,” he said. Drought has killed thousands of people, including many children. It is also reshaping Somalia’s landscape as the country grapples with one of the fastest rates of urbanization in the world as many people flee the arid regions.

Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif has told leaders his country has suffered catastrophic floods in recent months, affecting 33 million people and causing economic losses of more than $30 billion.

“All of this happened despite our very low carbon footprint,” Sharif said, emphasizing: “Of course it was a man-made disaster.”

Sharif called for additional financial support for his country and others affected by climate change, saying money to help Pakistan rebuild after the floods should rest on other aid and not must be in the form of a loan. The ensuing debt, he said, “will be a deadly financial trap.”

The President of Malawi, meanwhile, praised the leaders present in Egypt for simply showing up.

President Lazarus Chakwera said: “The temptation to waive this year’s COP is great,” said President Lazarus Chakwera, referring to the negotiations by the abbreviation of the United Nations, “because of economic difficulties. enormous and unprecedented economic crisis that your citizens are experiencing in their own countries.”

“But you resisted this temptation and chose the path of courage,” he said.

Chakwerea said any agreement reached at the two-week meeting should recognize the different capabilities of countries like the United States and China, and developing nations like his own.

So far, China has maintained that it cannot live up to the same standards as developed economies like the United States or Europe because it is still lifting millions of its citizens out of poverty. However, pressure is growing on Beijing to step up climate efforts given its huge economic clout.

Jochen Flasbarth, a senior German official and climate negotiator, said China only officially meets the criteria of a developing country.

“In fact, it is the leading emitter worldwide and it is also an extremely prosperous economy,” he said. “That’s why we expect … more responsibility will be taken (by China), nationally and internationally.”

The US midterm elections postponed talks on Tuesday, with many environmental campaigners concerned that a defeat to Democrats could make it difficult for President Joe Biden to pursue a full-blown agenda. its climate ambitions.

Also hanging over the conference was the fate of one of Egypt’s most famous pro-democracy activists, Alaa Abdel-Fattah, who has been jailed for most of the past decade. He even stopped drinking on Sunday, the first day of the conference, swearing he was ready to die if not released, his family said.

Many world leaders raised his case during meetings with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi and the head of the United Nations human rights office calling for his immediate release.

Egypt’s long history of suppressing dissent has sparked controversy over the country’s hosting of the annual conference, with many international climate activists complaining that the country’s restrictions host country is stagnating civil society.


Seth Borenstein and Samy Magdy contributed to this report.


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