The current energy supply crunch and high fuel prices have caused the reviving of coal plants and keeping them operating for longer.
Speaking at the COP27 through a video link, Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky says that Russia’s invasion of his country “forced dozens of countries to resume coal-fired power generation to lower energy prices, ” He added that there is no fight against climate change without peace (Gregory, 2022).
Some European leaders say this is not the case.
UK’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said, “Climate security goes hand in hand with energy security.” While France’s president Emmanuel Macron said, “We will not sacrifice our climate commitments under the energy threat from Russia” (Meredith, 2022).
On the contrary, leaders believed that the crisis showed fossil fuel’s unreliability and vowed to continue investing in clean energy. Looking at the International Energy Agency data, it is fair to say both camps are correct.
Renewable energy investments will reach $2.4 trillion in 2022, an 8% rise from the previous year. The amount also includes the spending on efficiency, which rose 15% in 2022 to a new record of $563 billion.
Meanwhile, fossil fuel investment has also risen to around $852 billion. The investment mainly comes from emerging Asian countries as they fire their coal power plants again to cope with the global energy crisis.
The EU is alone in signing natural-gas deals and building liquefied natural gas (LNG) infrastructure (LNG) – intending it as a “transition fuel.” Still, an investment like this is more likely to be woven into the economy long-term.
The war in Ukraine may have disrupted the energy transition, with some countries pouring more investment into coal and other fossil fuel to address high energy prices.
As some vulnerable countries are now grappling with climate change effects – Pakistan’s record floods and the drought in Africa that led to violence, killing hundreds and displacing thousands, with the climate crises getting worse, hopefully, the increase in fossil fuel consumption is just a temporary response to a crisis, with the word’s leaders intent on keeping their climate pledges to keep temperature rise way below 2°C.
Climate negotiations between China and the USA resume
Meanwhile, the world’s top two emitters, China and the United States, have resumed their climate talks. China froze its climate talks with the US in August 2022 in response to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.
The Economist reports that the decision to revive the climate talks between nations happened in Bali, Indonesia, on 14 November between US president Biden and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping.
The meeting occurred midway through the COP27 in Egypt. the announcement from the two largest economies to resume climate negotiations is considered a significant breakthrough in climate action. Although there was not enough time for the two countries to issue a joint statement regarding the agreement or their ambitious pledge before the summit concluded on 20 November, the two nations agreed to continue the climate talks and cooperation through each country’s key officials.
The article notes that for the collaboration to produce meaningful climate commitments or ambitions, the two countries will need to smoothen some frictions in their relationships, which would involve the US lifting bans on technology export restrictions on China imposed in October this year and some concessions for China.
But the competition between the two countries may drive more climate actions than their cooperation, as both countries are pouring millions of investments into green technology, especially in developing countries.
“China is refocusing its global Belt and Road infrastructure program on greener projects. In June, America and other members of the g7 launched a rival scheme, the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment. It aims to mobilise $600bn of investment in eco-friendly infrastructure in poorer countries by 2027. One project, unveiled on 15 November, is a $20bn package to help wean Indonesia off coal.”
Gregory, A. (2022, 9 November). Putin’s war in Ukraine has destroyed 5 million acres of forest, Zelensky tells COP27. Independent. Retrieved from https://www.independent.co.uk/climate-change/news/cop27-ukraine-zelensky-forests-putin-b2220894.html
Meredith, S. (2022 9 November). World leaders insist Russia’s war in Ukraine must be a reason to act even faster on climate. CNBC. Retrieved from https://www.cnbc.com/2022/11/09/cop27-world-leaders-insist-ukraine-war-must-not-derail-climate-action.html
America and China are talking again about climate change (2022, 24 November). The Economist. Retrieved from https://www.economist.com/china/2022/11/24/america-and-china-are-talking-again-about-climate-change