An article reprinted by Scientific American has cast doubt on a widespread setting of 2030 greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets by countries at COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, which is scheduled to take place in November this year.
Last year’s climate change conference-of-parties in Glasgow (COP26) postponed most 2030 goal-setting for a year, giving COP27 high importance, as there is a strong risk that the 1.5oC limit to global average surface temperature rise target will be exceeded by the early 2030s without substantial cuts to emissions this decade.
According to the article, a lack of updated 2030 targets will be due to domestic political difficulties, such as the failure in the US to pass the US$2 trillion Build Back Better plan ($550 billion of which was to be spent on promoting clean energy), and the claim that “Australia and Canada are also unlikely to put forward new NDCs”. A kind of political weariness from the domestic effort spent last year in agreeing new targets to COP26 is at play, and high fossil fuel prices are giving an incentive for further exploration and development of fossil resources.
Such factors are undoubtedly at work, but the situation may not be quite as grim as the article paints. Senator Joe Manchin, whose objection to the Build Back Better plan ultimately led to its most recent version being scuppered, is said to not object to certain elements of it, and the Biden administration is reportedly planning to split the plan up and pass it in smaller pieces of legislation. In Australia, a federal election looms, probably in May, and the opposition Labor party, currently ahead in the polls, has pledged to set a 43% GHG emissions reduction goal for 2030, substantially more ambitious than the present 26-28% goal.
Nevertheless, it is difficult to see where a great deal of impetus for COP27 will come from at present, though further natural disasters may sharpen minds.