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CLIMATE CRISIS

Germany says COP27 deal mix of ‘hope and frustration’

Germany expressed both "hope and frustration" over the outcome of a fraught UN COP27 climate summit that wrapped up on Sunday.

Germany says COP27 deal mix of 'hope and frustration'
Annalena Baerbock, Foreign Minister of Germany, speaks at a press conference after the closing ceremony of the UN climate summit COP27. Photo: Picture alliance/dpa | Christophe Gateau

A fraught UN climate summit wrapped up Sunday with a landmark deal on funding to help vulnerable countries cope with devastating impacts of global warming — but also anger over a failure to push further ambition on cutting emissions.

The two-week talks in Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, which at times appeared to teeter on the brink of collapse, delivered a major breakthrough on a fund for climate “loss and damage”.

Pakistani climate minister Sherry Rehman said COP27 “responded to the voices of the vulnerable, the damaged and the lost of the whole world”.

“We have struggled for 30 years on this path, and today in Sharm el-Sheikh this journey has achieved its first positive milestone,” she told the summit.

Tired delegates applauded when the loss and damage fund was adopted as the sun came up Sunday following almost two extra days of negotiations that went round the clock.

But jubilation over that achievement was countered by stern warnings. UN chief Antonio Guterres said the UN climate talks had “taken an important step towards justice” with the loss and damage fund, but fell short in pushing for the urgent carbon-cutting needed to tackle global warming.  

“Our planet is still in the emergency room,” Guterres said. “We need to drastically reduce emissions now and this is an issue this COP did not address.”

‘Stonewalled by emitters’

A final COP27 statement covering the broad array of the world’s efforts to grapple with a warming planet held the line on the aspirational goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels.

It also included language on renewable energy for the first time, while reiterating previous calls to accelerate “efforts towards the phasedown of unabated coal power and phase-out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies”.

But that failed to go much further than a similar decision from last year’s COP26 meeting in Glasgow on key issues around cutting planet-heating pollution.

Germany Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said she was frustrated that the emissions cut and fossil fuel phase-out were “stonewalled by a number of large emitters and oil producers”.

“We have made a breakthrough on climate justice — with a broad coalition of states after years of stagnation,” Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock tweeted.

But a lack of ambition on reducing emissions means “the world is losing precious time on the path to 1.5 degrees”, she added.

Criticised by some delegations for a lack of transparency during negotiations, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, the COP27 chair, said any missteps were “certainly not intentional”.

“I believe I succeeded in avoiding that any of the parties were to backslide,” he said.

‘Loss and damage’

The deal on loss and damage — which had only barely made it onto the negotiation agenda — gathered critical momentum during the talks.

Developing nations relentlessly pushed for the fund, finally succeeding in getting the backing of wealthy polluters long fearful of open-ended liability.

A statement from the Alliance of Small Island States, comprised of islands whose very existence is threatened by sea level rise, said the loss and damage deal was “historic”.

“The agreements made at COP27 are a win for our entire world,” said Molwyn Joseph, of Antigua and Barbuda and chair of AOSIS.

“We have shown those who have felt neglected that we hear you, we see you, and we are giving you the respect and care you deserve.”

With around 1.2C of warming so far, the world has seen a cascade of climate-driven extremes, shining a spotlight on the plight of developing countries faced with escalating disasters, as well as an energy and food price crisis and ballooning debt.

The World Bank estimated that devastating floods in Pakistan this year caused $30 billion in damage and economic loss.

The fund will be geared towards developing nations “that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change” — language that had been requested by the EU.

‘On the brink’ 

The Europeans had also wanted to broaden the funder base to cough up cash — code for China and other better-off emerging countries.

The final loss and damage text left many of the thornier questions to be dealt with by a transitional committee, which will report to next year’s climate meeting in Dubai to get the funding operational.

Scientists say limiting warming to 1.5C is a far safer guardrail against catastrophic climate impacts, with the world currently way off track and heading for around 2.5C under current commitments and plans.

“The historic outcome on loss and damage at COP27 shows international cooperation is possible,” said Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and Chair of The Elders.

“Equally, the renewed commitment on the 1.5C global warming limit was a source of relief. However, none of this changes the fact that the world remains on the brink of climate catastrophe.” 

READ MORE: Germany only has four glaciers left as climate change melts Alpine ice

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WEATHER

‘Clear indication of climate change’: Germany logs warmest year on record

Looking at data from 2,000 measuring systems around Germany, the German Weather Service (DWD) said that 2022 marked the warmest year on record through November.

'Clear indication of climate change': Germany logs warmest year on record

“Never since 1881 has the period from January to November in Germany been so warm as in 2022,” said DWD spokesman Uwe Kirsche in a statement on Wednesday.

The average temperature for the first eleven months of 2022 was 11.3C, according to the weather service in Offenbach. The previous high was set in 2020, at 11.1C for this period. 

The temperature average for autumn alone was 10.8 degrees – an entire 2C degrees higher than it was between 1961 to 1990, which is used by meteorologists around the globe as a point of reference. 

Clear indication of climate change

The period from January to October was already the warmest on record, with an average temperature of 11.8C. For meteorologists, autumn ends with November, whereas in calendar terms, it lasts until December 21st. 

It is “a clear indication of climate change;” that the warmest October months of the last 140 years all fall in this millennium, said DWD.

READ ALSO: ‘A glimpse into our climate future’: Germany logs warmest October on record

Autumn 2022 could have easily been mistaken for summer in some regions of Germany, it said. The mercury reached the highest in Kleve on the Lower Rhine on September 5th, where temperatures soared to a sizzling 32.3C.

weather Germany september

Beach goers in Westerland, Schleswig-Holstein on September 25th. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Frank Molter

Rainy regions

The mild weather extended into November, before temperatures took a dramatic dip in many parts of the country. 

In the Oberharz am Brocken, the mercury dropped all the way to -11.6C on November 20th, the nationwide low for this autumn.

READ ALSO: Germany to see first snowfall after mild November

But despite the early warm spells, autumn was also “slightly wetter than average,” according to DWD. An average of around 205 liters of precipitation per squar metre fell across Germany.

That was about twelve percent more than in the reference period from 1961 to 1990. Compared to 1991 to 2020, the increase was about eight percent.

The Black Forest and the Alps received the most rainfall. Utzenfeld in the southern Black Forest had the highest daily precipitation in Germany with 86 litres per square meter on October 14th. In contrast, it remained very dry in the northeast. 

However, there were also a fair few bright, sunny days for people to enjoy. According to DWD, the sun shone for a good 370 hours this autumn – almost 20 percent more than in the period from 1961 to 1990 and 15 percent more than in the period from 1991 to 2020.

The North German Lowlands saw the most sun, with residents there getting a solid 400 hours of sunshine over autumn. 

Temperatures to drop this week

Just in time for the start of the meteorological winter on December 1st, temperatures will drop significantly into the low negatives in many parts of the country.

On the weekend, there is a risk of permafrost in some regions of eastern Germany. The nights will also become increasingly frosty, with snow expected in many regions by the end of the week.

Roads are expected to turn icy, but with no major snowstorms, said DWD.

READ ALSO: Will Germany see more snow this winter?

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