TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Every year the world’s nations come together to discuss plans to combat climate change.
This year’s conference (COP 27) has brought together 170 counties in Egypt. It wraps up on Friday. This is the same conference that yielded the Paris Agreement in 2015.
Chief Meteorologist and Climate Specialist Jeff Berardelli spoke to Rep. Kathy Castor from Tampa, who chairs the house select committee on the climate crisis. She was in Egypt for the conference.
“What was hanging over the entire climate change summit is the fact that the world’s top scientists say that we are running out of time – they say there is a rapidly closing window for us to reduce climate pollution and we have to expedite what we are doing,” Castor told Berardelli in a Zoom meeting.
But she says there was a renewed sense of optimism among nations because the US was finally able to pass a meaningful climate bill.
“We passed the largest investment in clean energy and climate resilience in the history of the country,” said Castor, “They were calling it the largest climate investment anywhere from any nation, and you know America has an outsized responsibility because over time we have been the largest emitter of greenhouse gases since the industrial revolution. The other countries look to the U.S. for leadership.”
One of this year’s main themes is something called Loss and Damages. In other words, what, if anything, do rich countries – who are the main cause of climate change, owe to developing nations – who will have to bear the brunt of the damage?
While China is the largest emitter of planet warming climate pollution today – accounting for 30% of greenhouse gases, the US is by far the largest cumulative emitter – accounting for one-quarter of all carbon pollution since 1750. Thus, the US is the biggest contributor to global warming.
So, developing nations argue that they deserve compensation to help them adapt to climate change and transition to renewables. And while rich nations have made plenty of promises in the past, funding has been hard to come by.
“Because it’s often difficult to get climate-focused payments to the UN through a closely divided Congress, what you are going to see is the US provide leadership and resources through transferring the tech on clean energy, on solar, wind, energy efficiency to the developing world,” explains Castor.
Castor went on to say, “So rather than outright payment to a loss and damage fund I think you’ll see a lot of financing through multilateral development banks, the IMF the World Bank. It’s very easy to finance a coal plant, renewables have to become just as easy to finance in those international development banks and so we have going to make progress on that.”
The World is making progress on renewables. This year three-quarters of all newly added electricity capacity comes from clean energy.
But we have a long way to go… with 65% of the existing generation still coming from gas, oil and coal.
Berardelli: “Would it be accurate to say that this tremendous investment (The Inflation Reduction Act Bill – $370 billion for climate) in the transition to renewable energy and technology in the US, ought to make this tech cheaper in a way that its easier for developing countries to adopt?”
Castor: “That is correct and we need to move to affordable clean energy as quickly as possible in the US as well. Florida is the Sunshine State, but we are overly reliant on imported gas to power our homes and businesses and when you have price spikes like we are living through now, that means more expensive AC bills… more expense powering our lives. Plus you add in the unprovoked aggression by Putin on Ukraine that raised the price of oil and gas and we simply can not live through these kind of price spikes dictated by Petrol dictators anymore.”