Sunday, November 27, 2022

The battle to put climate change before war and inflation

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The world is “on a highway to climate hell with our foot on the accelerator”, attendees to the COP27 climate summit in Egypt were told today, as two weeks of talks began to wrestle the international agenda back on to the climate crisis.

UN secretary-general António Guterres said nations had to “co-operate or perish” as he opened negotiations in Sharm el-Sheikh against a backdrop of war in Ukraine, a cost of living crisis and tomorrow’s midterm elections in the US that could see Joe Biden’s administration significantly weakened.

As chief features writer Henry Mance writes in his interview with Kenyan environmentalist Wanjira Mathai, “rich countries are preoccupied by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the rising cost of living”, while poorer countries are focused on climate change after extreme weather conditions in Nigeria, Somalia and Pakistan. “We’re only at a 1.2C world. Can you imagine how much worse it will get?” says Mathai.

But despite the urgent need for climate action, the effect of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine on the global economy means that wealthy nations have not been forthcoming with climate aid. “Their promise to funnel $100bn of climate aid a year to poor countries remains outstanding, as does a commitment to double funding for climate adaptation to $40bn by 2025,” writes Mance.

Former British prime minister Boris Johnson told an event at COP27 today that the UK did “not have the financial resources” to pay “reparations” to low-income countries affected by climate change — despite admitting that, “per capita, people in the UK put a lot of carbon in the atmosphere”.

Instead, he said net zero would have to be achieved through investment from the private sector in partnership with the international community.

The US is working on a plan to harness cash from the world’s largest companies to help developing countries cut their use of fossil fuels. The new framework would be for carbon credits to be sold to business, with the proceeds used to fund new clean energy projects.

The FT editorial board says rich countries need to “dig deep enough into [their] pockets on funding for mitigation and adaptation” in order to “offset increasingly vocal calls from poorer nations for funding to cover loss and damage caused by warming”.

As Mance points out, scientists have forecast that increased warming will make parts of sub-Saharan Africa unlivable this century, while agricultural productivity will fall in many areas. This may lead millions of climate migrants to head towards Europe, where governments are already struggling to handle migration from north Africa.

In Italy, for example, the new rightwing government has pledged to curb illegal migration. Over the weekend it blocked some migrants from disembarking a rescue vessel at the port of Catania and ordered the ship to leave Italian waters.

Migrants aboard the rescue ship Humanity 1 in the port of Catania, Sicily, on Sunday © SOS Humanity/AFP/Getty Images

Need to know: UK and Europe economy

UK chancellor Jeremy Hunt is targeting a £54bn fiscal tightening in his Autumn Statement on November 17, with plans to cut £33bn in public spending while raising taxes by £21bn under draft proposals. Oil companies have hit out at the UK’s “fiscally unstable and complex” regime and warned against raising windfall taxes.

Ukraine has received its first Nasams air defence systems from the US and Aspide units from Spain, as Russia continues its missile and drone strikes on electricity infrastructure that have triggered blackouts nationwide.

In France, the far-right is seeking to move from the political fringe to the mainstream after selecting a party leader from outside the Le Pen dynasty for the first time in its 50-year history.

Need to know: global economy

All eyes are on the US midterms tomorrow and our Big Read explores the Republicans’ strategy of doubling down on Trumpist candidates. Meanwhile, cyber experts are warning of a risk of misinformation on Twitter, presenting a test of how Elon Musk will manage propaganda and hate speech after sacking staff who policed user content.

Listen to our crash course on the US midterm elections in this FT News Briefing special for more insights.

In China, exports have fallen for first time since 2020, highlighting the nation’s exposure to the global slowdown and the effects of its zero-Covid policy. China has also become the top exporter to Russia.

Acts of violence against politicians and a deadly protest in Haiti have led regional neighbours to weigh an intervention.

Need to know: business

Profits have fallen at BioNTech as vaccine demand wanes, with net profit falling from €3.2bn in the third quarter of 2021 to about €1.8bn.

Global law firms have begun to scale back hiring as they prepare for a deep worldwide recession.

Business is looking up for Ryanair as the low-cost carrier swung to a first-half profit and raised its passenger numbers forecast.

Apple has warned of iPhone shipment delays after China’s zero-Covid lockdowns caused havoc at a factory run by its main supplier Foxconn.

The World of Work

British companies have been accused of an “appalling” shortfall of women in executive roles, according to a FTSE board report from Cranfield University and EY. The survey showed there are only nine female chief executives in the FTSE 100.

An all-female mine in Zimbabwe is empowering women from a rural community to become financially independent.

Retirees in the UK are heading back to work to gain additional income and socialise. Colin Serlin, 76, for example, took a masters degree in psychotherapy after 40 years in the property business and will soon set up his own practice offering courses to the recently retired.

Colin Serlin
Colin Serlin: ‘People get bored, depressed and even more seriously ill as they don’t know what to do with themselves. I’m hoping to change that’ © Richard Cannon/FT

Covid cases and vaccinations

Total global cases: 633mn

Total doses given: 12.93bn

Get the latest worldwide picture with our vaccine tracker

Some good news

In keeping with the climate theme, researchers have reported using advanced computing technology and artificial intelligence to design a transparent window coating that could lower the temperature inside buildings, without expending a single watt of energy.

Graphic from journal entry
© ACS Energy Lett. 2022, 7, XXX, 4134-4141

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