US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at Cop27 before President Biden's visit

Study revealed in Sharm El Sheikh shows world now has less than seven years to limit global warming to 1.5°C

US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi gestures during a discussion panel at Cop27 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. AFP
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US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said at the UN climate summit in Egypt on Thursday that she hoped Republicans would co-operate with President Joe Biden's administration in the fight against climate change, regardless of the results of the midterm elections.

Ms Pelosi arrived in Sharm El Sheikh on Thursday, one day before the scheduled arrival of Mr Biden, who will be making a short stopover in the Egyptian Red Sea resort on his way to a week-long Asian tour.

Her visit at the head of a delegation of Democrats comes as Republicans look poised to take control of the House of Representatives after Tuesday's vote, although the final results have yet to be announced.

Win or lose, she said, “we still would like to have bipartisanship in saving the planet”.

US President Joe Biden is expected at the Cop27 climate conference in Sharm El Sheikh on November 11. Reuters

“I think what you saw in this election was young people voting on this subject that took everyone by surprise, not us,” Ms Pelosi said.

The US is the world's second biggest greenhouse gas emitter, behind China.

At a panel discussion earlier on Thursday, Ms Pelosi pointed to the passage in August of the $370 billion Inflation Reduction Act, a bill that included massive investment in renewable energy. No Republican politicians supported it.

On the fifth day of the UN talks, a series of studies were revealed that did not bode well for the global fight against climate change.

Activists hold up torches during a rally commemorating murdered indigenous people and environmental defenders in Quezon city, Metro Manila, Philippines. Getty Images

One of them is a study by the Climate Clock that said the world now has less than seven years to limit global warming to 1.5°C. It also said that high-emitting G20 countries owed developing nations more than $300 trillion in “loss and damage”.

“The Climate Clock’s Loss and Damage calculation is far larger than what is currently being discussed at Cop27 negotiations,” said Ian Mitchell, senior fellow at the Centre for Global Development and the study’s lead author.

The study said that “traditional figures tend to focus only on the damage from individual extreme weather events, or relate only to annual climate finance commitments from developed countries”.

“But our new estimates take into account the full scale of the damage that emissions will cause,” it added.

Climate activists demand climate justice and human rights during the UN climate summit in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. EPA

Loss and damage was added to the Cop27 agenda on Sunday, the opening day, in a victory for developing nations.

Another study presented in Sharm El Sheikh on Thursday said there were limits to how much people and ecosystems can adapt to climate change.

The study, titled “10 New Insights in Climate Science”, said the number of people living in communities at risk from climate change was likely to increase over the coming decades.

Large numbers of people are already dying because of the effects of climate change, delegates were told when the report was unveiled.

Among the report’s key findings were that 1.6 billion people live in “vulnerability hot spots”, or areas highly susceptible to climate-driven hazards, and that this number will double by 2050.

The Middle East is among the regions identified as being home to such hot spots, while others are in the Sahel, Central America, Central and East Africa, and Asia.

Climate activist Victor Gomes de Oliveira of Brazil speaks during a session at the UN climate summit in Sharm El Sheikh. AP

Speaking at a press conference to launch the report, Simon Stiell, the UN’s point man on climate change, described the report findings as alarming.

“Adaptation alone cannot keep up with the impacts of climate change, which are already far worse than originally predicted,” he said.

Meanwhile, Achim Steiner, head of the UN Development Programme, said decades of development progress were at risk as economies are pushed backward by climate change losses, the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic and a growing cost-of-living crisis. He also cited soaring debt and inflation.

“We essentially document a regression — and regression that is virtually universal across the board,” Mr Steiner said.

Progress towards the globally agreed Sustainable Development Goals, which include ending poverty and hunger and are due to be achieved by 2030, is sliding, he said, with some countries finding themselves back where they were in 2016.

Economic pain is making it harder for many governments to find the funding needed to roll out clean energy initiatives and tackle climate change — something that would have been easier when interest rates were still low, Mr Steiner said in an interview with Reuters.

Updated: November 10, 2022, 4:57 PM
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