The European and US media insist that the conclusions of the COP27 summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, do not go far enough and do not address the roots of the problem. However, if we take a look at the Middle East press, even the most US-allied or Africa-focused media, we would see a very different message.
What are the COPs?
The COPs are international conferences organized by the UN.
In theory, the objective of the COPs is to assess and coordinate the greenhouse gas emission reduction policies of the member states. In reality they were created as a multilateral tool for the EU and the US to impose on the different groups of countries their rhythms, forms and interests to implement the Green Deal globally.
In practice, the COPs have been floundering as the US and the EU have found it increasingly difficult to impose themselves through such bodies by guaranteeing or restricting access to capital and markets in third countries. The erosion of the strictly economic mechanisms of domination, which ends with the failure of sanctions against Russia and the outbreak of war in Ukraine, have distanced the COPs from the results that the so-called "Western" bloc intended to impose.
In this last COP in Egypt, co-organized by the United Arab Emirates, for example, the very appearance of the venue was that of an energy fair, not that of a body supposedly dedicated to tackling climate change. During the two weeks it lasted, two dozen macro-agreements were signed on oil and gas sales and barely thirty - much smaller - on renewable energies.
What interests were at stake?
The COP27 slogan was: "together for implementation".
The Green Deal in general only addresses climate change from the rhetoric of emissions... but that is not its core. The Green Deal is about transforming capital markets through a near universal technological change that will lead to the rapid obsolescence of fixed capital. But it is not a matter of devaluing capital but rather, the contrary: impulsing accumulation with a new vigor fueled by a massive transfer of income from labor to capital whose consequences quickly manifested themselves in a tendency to inflation which the Ukrainian war only exacerbated.
Such a brutal and rapid change of rules in the global market can only raise the level of contradictions between the interests of the various national capitals, even if they all, in principle, accept the general framework. After all, it is the conditions of access to markets and capital that we are talking about, the very core of the imperialist interests of each country.
The result is a tangle of contradictory interests and ad hoc alliances that, as crisis and war become globalized, makes it more difficult for broad consensuses and agreements to concretize common objectives. Some examples:
- Coal-dependent India tried to lower the pressure that the last COPs had put to globally ban its use by promoting a longer-term plan to phase out all fossil fuels. But sure enough, the Egyptian presidency omitted its proposal from the conclusions. Egypt and its Saudi and Emirati allies were doing something else: moving the agreements toward promoting "low-emission" sources to increase natural gas sales.
- Semicolonial countries in general make the transformation of their energy structure conditional on a change in the rules of the IMF and the World Bank that would allow them access to credits not only to buy technologies and build power plants, but also to keep afloat industries that, with more expensive energy, would lose the opportunity to sell their production abroad. Obviously, the US and Europe are reluctant. It is one thing to share risks by selling mini-nuclear power plants to Thailand, for example, on account of World Bank credits. It is another, as the Prime Minister of Barbados requested at COP26 in Glasgow, to grant special drawing rights to countries under permanent threat of a currency storm. In Egypt, the proposal has reduced objectives and is now backed by the US and France... although it no longer excites the so-called G77, the group of 77 semi-colonial countries led by China.
- The EU and the US want to close their markets to certain imports, especially Chinese, by imposing the famous carbon border, a special tariff that according to the official argumentation does not do enough to implement the Green Deal. India, China, Brazil and South Africa assure that they would refuse to join any further initiatives of the EU and the US if the implementation of the carbon border is not withdrawn.
- China and the US tried in every possible way to slow down or scuttle what in the end has been the great success of the Summit: the creation of a fund to compensate countries that suffer catastrophes attributed to climate change. The EU and the US aimed to include China among the payers while China in the G77 shielded itself under the label of developing country in order to escape being a contributor to the fund. US did not want to commit under any circumstances fearful that the Republican Senate would roll back any legislation articulating US contributions to the fund. As a result... the fund was finally created, China got off the hook and the US and the EU, for the time being at least, do not pay. The articulation and composition of the fund will be left for a later date.
What remains of COP27?
- The relationship between the Green Deal and emissions reductions to reverse or at least slow Climate Change is increasingly contradictory.
- The positions of the various countries and groups, "poor" or "rich", are more and more openly the product of a simple calculation: they support whatever allows them to place and receive capital in order to ensure access of their products to external markets; they are closed to anything that hinders their conditions for accumulation. A veritable imperialist festival for all, from the last Melanesian island to the US and China, in which the rhetoric of climate change only appears as a liturgical concession or as a marketing slogan.
- The height of cynicism: the EU laments that the "climate target" has not been increased and that "only" the target for average temperatures to rise by 1.5° by 2030 was maintained.... But the reality is that CO emissions continue to rise and there is no sign of a change in trend. With today's data, emissions would have to be almost halved by 2030 to reach the 1.5 of the Paris Agreement by 2050.