COP27: experts warn dash for gas endangers climate

COP27: experts warn dash for gas endangers climate
As day five of the COP27 conference began, researchers warned that the world's dash for natural gas could be harmful to climate goals.
10 min read
10 November, 2022

Experts have warned that the world's dash for natural gas could be harmful to climate goals, on day five of the UN COP27 climate summit.

Countries scrambling this year to source more natural gas to replace supplies from Russia are risking years of emissions that could thwart climate aims, the research collaboration Climate Action Tracker said on Thursday.

Efforts to stave off disastrous climate change collided this year with a global energy crisis of scarce gas and soaring fuel prices, as Russia sharply cut gas deliveries to Europe following its Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine.

"We're witnessing a major push for expanded fossil gas LNG production and import capacity across the world – in Europe, Africa, North America, Asia and Australia – which could cause global emissions to breach dangerous levels," said Bill Hare, CEO of research institute Climate Analytics, which together with NewClimate Institute forms Climate Action Tracker (CAT).

The planned projects could emit 10% of the world's remaining carbon budget - the cumulative amount that can be emitted if warming beyond 1.5C is to be avoided, CAT said. Among the projects are new gas drilling in Canada and liquefied natural gas (LNG) import capacity in Germany and Vietnam.

During the COP27 conference several global leaders have issued dire warnings for the future of the climate. 

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told countries gathered at the start of the COP27 on Monday that they face a stark choice: work together now to cut emissions or condemn future generations to climate catastrophe.


5:30 PM
The New Arab Staff

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4:29 PM
The New Arab Staff

Sister of Alaa Abdel Fattah accused of espionage and spreading misinformation

Sanaa Seif, the sister of jailed Egyptian-British activist Alaa Abdel Fattah has been accused of espionage and spreading misinformation. 

Egyptian pro-government lawyer Tareq Mahmoud reportedly filed a case accusing Seif of 'conspiring with foreign agencies hostile to the Egyptian state and turning to forces outside Egypt for support, and incitement against the Egyptian state and its institutions and deliberately spreading false news,' according to a press release from the FreeAlaa campaign. 

Sanaa Seif is Abdel Fattah’s younger sister, and has been relentlessly campaigning alongside her family for her brother’s release. 

The move comes days after Sanaa spoke to reporters and activists at the COP27 climate summit being held in Egypt where she campaigned for the release of her brother. She was interrupted and harassed during her presentation by Amr Darwish, a pro-government Egyptian MP who was later escorted out by security. 

"Anybody can submit a complaint to the General Prosecutor’s office and it’s up to him to decide whether or not to proceed with it", Mona Seif, Sanaa and Alaa Abdel Fattah's sister. She expressed concerns that the Egyptian state was preparing a case against her sister. 

"But with our experience in our family it is usually the case that complaints that we submit about crimes committed against us are ignored, while complaints that are filed against us by random people we don’t know, is usually the Egyptian state’s way of starting a new case against one of us. So there’s a very strong possibility that this is what they’re preparing next for Sanaa."

Abdel Fattah is one of Egypts most well known political prisoners.

Local and international human rights groups estimate that Egypt has been holding as many as 60,000 political prisoners and detainees behind bars since president Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi took office.

3:39 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

UN food agency aim to launch sustainable food system plan

The UN food agency aims to launch a plan within the year to make the world's food system more sustainable, a senior executive told Reuters on the sidelines of the COP27 climate talks in Egypt.

The plan would show how the food industry and farming can align with the world's goal of capping global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius, Food and Agriculture Organization Deputy Director Zitouni Ould-Dada said.

The hope is that such a plan would act in a similar way to the release of a report for the energy sector by the International Energy Agency, which spurred investment into companies, projects and technologies aligned with the plan.

"It's much needed because for the energy sector there are clear roadmaps which really attracted a lot of investors... but for agriculture we don't have such a map," Ould-Dada said.

More than forty investors managing a combined $18 trillion urged the FAO in June to create a plan to curb emissions in the sector, often overlooked in global warming debates yet one of the biggest sources of climate-damaging emissions.


2:25 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

US Democratic lawmakers concerned Republican gains will hurt climate

US Democratic lawmakers at the UN climate summit in Egypt expressed concern on Thursday that Republican gains in the midterm Congressional elections could spell trouble for America's efforts to fight climate change.

The administration of Democrat US President Joe Biden is hoping the United States, the world's second-biggest greenhouse gas emitter behind China, can be a world leader in slashing emissions but has faced political opposition from Republicans who argue his environmental policies are unwarranted.

Kathy Castor, the Chair of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, told an audience at the COP27 summit in Sharm el-Sheikh on Thursday that if Republicans take control of the Congress it could reduce the chances for additional legislative action to fight global warming.

"It's quite likely if for some reason the GOP ekes out control of the House of Representatives, they will nix the Climate Committee," she said during a panel discussion. "They have not really been partners in tackling the climate crisis."

Speaking on the same panel, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi criticised lawmakers who disagree global warming is a real problem, and said Democrats and Republicans would have to work together to combat climate change.

"We have to get over that," Pelosi said of lawmakers who have claimed climate change is a hoax. "I place my confidence in their children who hopefully will teach their parents that this is urgent, long overdue. But again, how we will address it is to get working together," she said.


1:06 PM
The New Arab Staff

Sea of white in solidarity protest for Egyptian political prisoners at COP27

Activists wore white in solidarity with Egyptian political prisoners during a protest at COP27, they shared on Twitter.

Protesters held signs reading 'there can be no climate justice without human rights,' at the UN climate summit in Sharm El-Sheikh.

World leaders and activists have repeatedly called for Egyptian authorities to release Egypt's most prominent political prisoner Egyptian-British activist Alaa Abdel Fattah, ahead of COP27.

"If only @alaa could see this," activist Khalid Abdalla tweeted alongside an image of the demonstration.


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In a country where protests are virtually banned, the government has set up a specific venue for climate protests. Notifications are required 36 hours in advance.

For decades, Sharm el-Sheikh has been the government’s favourite spot for conferences and high-level summits precisely because it is so easy to control. 

Journalists and activists have reported online surveillance and censorship while covering the climate summit.

12:35 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Experts say 'unstoppable' renewables help climate

Russia's war in Ukraine has forced a short-term scramble for fossil fuels but the rise of solar, wind and other clean energies is "unstoppable", the head of International Renewable Energy Agency told AFP.

Speaking at the UN COP27 climate summit in Egypt, Francesco La Camera said market forces now all but ensure renewables will keep growing fast -- but also warned that the pace will need to double to prevent a climate catastrophe.

The Ukraine war has led to a serious energy supply crunch and oil and gas price spikes that have forced especially European countries to quickly search for new suppliers as they head into winter.

"In the short term, this will have an impact," said La Camera, director general of IRENA.

"But in the medium and long term, there is no other way than to accelerate decarbonisation. Because ultimately renewables are not only good for the climate, jobs, GDP, but are a real way to ensure energy independence."

11:31 AM
The New Arab Staff

Lawyer granted permission to visit Alaa Abdel Fattah in prison

Egyptian-British Alaa Abdel Fattah's lawyer has been granted permission to visit the activist in prison, according to Abdel Fattah's family.

Lawyer Khaled Ali is "on his way" to the prison, according to the activist's sister Mona Seif.

"Let's hope they actually allow him to visit and he gets to see Alaa today and update us on his health," Seif tweeted.

11:12 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Alaa Abdel Fattah hospitalised in 'intervention', family says

Egyptian prison authorities have intervened medically with jailed pro-democracy activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah, who this week escalated a food and hunger strike demanding his release, coinciding with Egypt’s hosting of the UN climate summit, his mother said.

The nature of the intervention was not known, but the family has expressed fears prison officials would force-feed Abdel-Fattah, which they said would amount to torture. Abdel-Fattah said in an earlier letter that he was prepared to die in prison if not freed.

Abdel-Fattah's mother, Leila Soueif, said she spoke to prison authorities by phone and asked them if her son was undergoing any medical procedure and they said he was. She asked “if it was by force, and they said no" and told her, “Alaa is good,” she told The Associated Press.

For more on the story click here.

9:48 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

President Biden begins week-long trip to Egypt, Asia

President Joe Biden starts a week-long trip to Egypt and Asia on Thursday to grapple with some of the United States' thorniest foreign policy issues, boosted by a better-than-expected showing by Democrats in the midterm elections.

Biden hops from an international climate summit in Egypt on Nov. 11 to an ASEAN meeting and the East Asia Summit in Cambodia on Nov. 12 and 13 to the annual gathering of the G20, or Group of 20 industrialized nations, in Indonesia from Nov. 14-16.

In remarks on Nov. 11 at the COP27 summit in Egypt, Biden is expected to remind the 196 parties who signed on to the Paris Climate Agreement to keep their eyes on the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, senior administration officials said.

Biden is expected to discuss in a speech and bilateral meetings how Washington is partnering with developing countries to lower emissions by tapping into public and private partnerships, US efforts to decarbonize sectors such as shipping and the pledge to lower methane emissions, the officials said.

During his visit to Egypt, Biden will also have a bilateral meeting with Egyptian president Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and "human rights will feature prominently in those discussions".

The US has "raised repeated concerns" about jailed activist Alaa Abd El-Fattah, whose case has attracted global attention, with his health deteriorating during a 200-plus day hunger strike.


9:44 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

UN nuclear chief warns recycling radioactive waste is challenging

Recycling radioactive waste from nuclear power has security and cost challenges but the UN International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) would be able to monitor the process should the United States take that path, Reuters on Thursday reported the IAEA head as saying.

The administration of US President Joe Biden sees the expansion of nuclear energy as a critical in tackling emissions linked to climate change in the world's second-biggest greenhouse gas emitter, and views recycling as a smart way to both boost domestic nuclear fuel supplies and reduce waste.

The US Energy Department's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, or ARPA-E, aims to develop a dozen projects to recycle spent nuclear fuel. Last month it granted $38 million for reprocessing to companies including GE Research, the development part of General Electric Company.

When asked about the US exploration of reprocessing, IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi downplayed the chances it would become a reality anytime soon.

"I don't see many really looking seriously into reprocessing," Grossi told Reuters in an interview late on Wednesday at the COP27 climate summit in Egypt.

"Reprocessing is a very difficult technology that requires a lot of infrastructure," Grossi added.