Press release

Planet “doomed” if politics reign supreme at COP27

Published on 2 November 2022

The planet is “doomed” if political differences brought to light by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine cannot be put aside by global leaders at next week’s COP27 summit.

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Dr Janet Liao, a Senior Lecturer in International Politics at the University of Dundee, has warned that divisions brought about by the conflict in Eastern Europe could thwart efforts to achieve a consensus on climate.

The relationship between the world’s two largest polluters – China and the United States – has been strained due to the conflict, as well as Washington’s support for Taiwan, while Europe is wrestling with the prospect of a winter of gas shortages.

As leaders prepare to gather in Egypt for the United Nations Climate Summit, Dr Liao says that the fate of the planet depends upon differences being put aside.

She said, “COP27 is expected to boost support for adaptation to the inevitable impacts of climate change, along with the necessary financial support, and to enhance national emissions-reduction targets to keep the 1.5C commitment within reach.

“However, these being agreed are far from certain, largely due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“On the one side, the war has triggered severe threats to European energy security, prompting the EU – the world leader in the fight against climate change – to revisit its energy strategy and to raise the possibility of using coal to help with the winter.

“On the other, the Russian-Ukraine war has intensified the US-China confrontation. Being the largest CO2 emitters, if the two countries do not cooperate on climate governance, the world will be doomed, and so is COP27.”

Last year’s COP26 summit in Glasgow has been viewed as largely unsuccessful, and while an agreement was ultimately reached, the wording on the use of coal in power stations has been criticised. However, as leaders prepare to meet again, Dr Liao believes that there were many positives that can be built upon in Egypt.

“The COP26 in Glasgow ended with noticeable success symbolled by the Glasgow Climate Pact, which pledged to continue working to limit global warming to no more than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.

“While there can be no doubting that there are many differences between the delegates attending COP27, there is hope that a focus on that single, fundamental goal, could be decisive if our politicians really are determined to protect our planet for generations to come.”

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j.s.watson@dundee.ac.uk