Dubai (United Arab Emirates)
From our special correspondent
King Lee is delighted. In his flocked “carbon-neutral nuclear” stand, this London-based lobbyist has just returned from a conference dedicated to the atom, at the Dubai Exhibition Center, where the 28th UN conference on nuclear power is being held. climate. This Saturday, December 2, around twenty countries, including France, announced a goal of tripling nuclear capacities by 2050.
“This is a strong political signal, which shows that this energy has a significant role to play in the transition,” rejoices this head of the World Nuclear Association. If France’s position is not a secret, that of countries like Sweden or Ghana is, in his eyes, clarified. Which should help reassure investors… and attract financing.
Proof that the commitments made during the COPs are not without consequences. But beyond the criticisms that can be made about the content of certain commitments, observers emphasize that they are far from having the same scope, at a time when journalists’ mailboxes have been swamped with announcements since the start of the conference, November 30. “We must distinguish between what concerns the negotiations themselves on the one hand, and voluntary agreements on the other,” explains Yann Briand, head of climate and transport research at the Institute of Sustainable Development and International Relations ( Iddri). The announcement of a fund to finance the damage caused by climate change in the countries of the South, which caused a lot of noise on the first day of the COP, is part of the first category. Demanded for thirty years by vulnerable countries, this is a key element: it must appear in the final declaration of the COP, the text on which the 197 countries must agree and which is the main objective of these climate conferences.
“The agreement reached from the start will therefore have a direct influence on the rest of the negotiations,” continues Yann Briand. But the following two days, the arrival of 140 heads of state resulted in a multiplication of commitments from all sides, such as that on nuclear power. These are proposed voluntarily, outside the framework of negotiation. For what result? On the financial side, it is still difficult to see clearly. Observers systematically ask: for what duration? Which destination ? Are these donations or loans? In which case, are the rates advantageous? For example, due to a lack of guarantees on this last point, observers were suspicious after the creation of an investment fund for the transition of countries in the South with 27 billion euros, by the United Arab Emirates. . These international meetings can, however, be an opportunity to bring certain discussions on financing to fruition because they create a deadline, and therefore pressure.
What about the other promises? “Many commitments only survive until the COP,” regrets Anabella Rosemberg, of the International Climate Action Network. In most cases, there is no organization set up to ensure monitoring and implementation, no annual review or consultation of civil society. »
During COP26 in 2021, a coalition of around a hundred countries against deforestation made a lot of noise. Two years later, deforestation is still increasing and the coalition has disappeared from the radar. Conversely, others are strengthening, such as that relating to a 30% reduction in methane (a powerful greenhouse gas) in 2030, joined this year by Turkmenistan, a major emitter.
“These coalitions can create collective pressure and dynamics,” notes Yann Briand. When there is a very concrete objective and not just a vague promise. This is how we must understand the coalition on the tripling of renewable energies, led by the United Arab Emirates and signed by nearly 120 countries. The host country is pleading to include the objective in the final COP agreement even if, for the moment, neither China nor India have joined the coalition. “Indirectly, these coalitions create transparency,” notes Yann Briand. They give clues about the position of countries, while negotiations are held behind closed doors. »
Beyond the display, we must not be fooled by certain promises or at least their perverse effects, according to observers. “When the countries of the North created coalitions on the exit from coal, the countries of the South saw it as a way of eclipsing the subject of oil and gas,” recalls Anabella Rosemberg. Alerts are also increasing on the renewables objective supported by the United Arab Emirates, seen as a strategy to sweep criticism of fossil fuels under the rug. The same goes for France’s advocacy in favor of nuclear power: when investors wonder about the direction of their financing, it is far from trivial.