It’s been two months since COP27 (the latest annual United Nations meeting on climate change) ended and our world is facing so-called “freak storms” and “once in a generation weather events” one after another. Since COP27, the United States has faced the bomb cyclone Elliott with blizzard conditions killing at least 69 people and grounding thousands of flights. A series of deadly “atmospheric rivers” have hit California, causing record rain and massive flooding. Japan faced a deadly winter storm killing at least 17 people. Europe faced an unprecedented heat wave. Australia, the Philippines, Nigeria, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo suffered under massive flooding, and the Great Salt Lake in the U.S. is on the verge of drying up.
Around the world, people are suffering climate catastrophe after catastrophe. And these disasters aren’t lessening, but accelerating, as this COP meeting left us once again with nothing meaningful being done to address the existential crisis we face.
This year’s COP had over 600 fossil fuel industry representatives attending, a 25% increase from last year. A commitment to phase out all fossil fuels was struck down. But a commitment was made to increase “low emissions energy,” a phrase so vague it can mean burning more gas because it has a lower emission rate than other fossil fuels. Along with this, the commitment to have peak emission by the year 2025 was gutted, and the commitment for countries to regularly rewrite their climate commitments was dropped from every year to every 5 years. There was even talk of raising the target global temperature increase above 1.5 degrees Celsius, which has been the agreed goal for years. And 2022 ended being another year with record levels of high temperatures and CO2 in the atmosphere.
In the end, the greatest claim to progress at this COP meeting was the creation of a damage and loss fund for countries in the Global South to deal with the worst consequences of climate change caused by rich countries. But this has nothing to do with stopping global heating. This fund is intended as nothing more than hush money. There are no financial commitments by the rich countries. And, if any money is eventually paid, it will do nothing to prevent those in power from continuing the destruction they are wreaking while those most affected are left to suffer and die.
Ultimately, this COP meeting was simply another demonstration that this system of capitalism, which destroys the environment in its endless pursuit of profits, has no solution to the climate crisis that it has created. The climate catastrophe will only keep getting worse as long as we leave our fate in the hands of those who defend this system.