Updates continued

This section serves as a list of brief and important updates related to green transition. Content is collected via open sources, cross-checked and subsequently re-shared here. All content is handpicked by the Green Transition Observatory Team.

1The Washington Post takes Climate Change very seriously (1 Dec. 2022)

The Washington Post recently announced a significant increase of its climate coverage, making this a watershed week for climate journalism. Sally Buzbee, the executive editor of the Post, wrote in a statement to readers, "We have nearly tripled the size of our Climate team — totaling more than 30 journalists — part of a newsroom-wide commitment to reporting potentially the largest story of the century." This initiative by the Wahington Post has been applauded by several agencies (e.g., Covering Climate Now) in hopes that other newsrooms will take note of its approach. Since the Post is owned by billionaire Jeff Bezos, not every news outlet has the financial resources that the Post possesses. However, as Buzbee pointed out, every media can acknowledge that climate change is a topic relevant to every journalism beat and warrants daily coverage.

This lesson is particularly important following the COP27 climate meeting. The establishment of a "loss and damage" fund was a historic accomplishment for COP27, but the absence of stronger measures to keep temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels was an unquestionable failure. Journalists must now investigate both themes.

As a recognition that the nations whose emissions have disproportionately contributed to climate change should compensate the nations that are experiencing its most severe effects, the decision to establish a loss and damage fund is a triumph for climate justice. But precisely which nations will contribute? What will they be paying? Journalists should follow any developments on these and other relevant issues as they are negotiated in the months leading up to the next COP. The loss and damage fund was established to aid individuals and communities in recovering from devastating weather catastrophes, and climate reporting should serve as a reminder to audiences of this. But if the world doesn't do much more to keep temperature rise to the 1.5-degree-C goal supported in the 2015 Paris Agreement, the loss and damage fund "will become a money pit," as the Los Angeles Times editorial board noted in a column. However, Fatih Birol, the director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), stated in an interview with the Guardian that this setback categorically does not mean that the international community should lose up on the 1.5 degree C target. In addition to being politically improper, it is factually erroneous, according to Birol. He continued, saying that although the likelihood of 1.5C is decreasing, it is still possible, and cautioned that fossil fuel industries "would be the beneficiaries if the obituary of 1.5C is written."

The IEA came to the conclusion last year that no additional fossil fuel development is possible if the 1.5 degree Celsius target is to be attained. But the reverse is taking place. Numerous "carbon bomb" projects are being planned by oil and gas companies around the world, as the Guardian investigation earlier this year found. New fossil fuel projects in 48 African countries are listed in a new study by the climate campaign group Reclaim Finance, along with the investors supporting them. Journalists and news organizations from throughout the world need to examine these programs closely and hold them accountable. As UN Secretary-General António Guterres stated at the opening of COP27, the world is currently "on a highway to climate hell with our foot on the accelerator." By enabling the populace to demand better from leaders before it is too late, diligent and outspoken news coverage of the kind The Washington Post promises can help reverse this trend.


2What we read regarding COP27 results (25 Nov. 2022)

A contentious agreement was achieved on the establishment of a loss and damage fund to compensate developing nations for the catastrophic and irreparable damages brought on by climate change as the UN climate conference COP27 came to a conclusion in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

The breakthrough happened on the final day of the two-week summit, after the US decided to change its position about the establishment of such a fund. The most climate-vulnerable poor nations have been battling for wealthy nations to foot the bill for damage brought on by severe storms, heat waves, and droughts linked to rising temperatures for decades.

Although many diplomats and environmentalists applauded the historic agreement, which is anticipated to be finalized in the upcoming year, the summit's outcome was widely seen as a failure on attempts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, according to the Guardian. UN Secretary-General António Guterres declared that "our planet is still in the emergency room." "We urgently need to cut emissions, and this COP did not address this issue. In terms of climate ambition, the world still needs to make a huge leap."

Justin Worland explores the "ground-breaking shift" that the new loss and damage fund symbolizes for TIME magazine. According to his writing, the agreement marks the beginning of a new era in climate policy, in which compensating developing nations for climate impacts "receives top billing in international climate discussions—and questions of how to pay for it enter the conversation in capitals of developed countries around the world."

The Washington Post: The editorial board of the newspaper sees a "good moral argument" for establishing loss and damage financing, but adds that getting legislative approval from the US and other developed countries for the fund will be difficult, especially given the fact that rich countries have not yet fulfilled their $100 billion commitment to assist poorer countries with climate change adaptation. The board requests that the UN "maintain its principal focus on persuading major countries to meet their present emissions promises and to enhance their ambition."


3"COP27 marks a small step towards climate justice but much more is needed for the planet", EC President von der Leyen on the outcome of COP27 (21 Nov. 2022)

On the 20th November, the 27th UN Climatic Change Conference (COP 27) came to an end with the historic decision to create a loss and damage fund for weaker nations who have been severely affected by climate calamities. Nonetheless, despite expectations that the high-level summit would establish a more aggressive schedule for shipping to decarbonize, the progress on climate ambition was largely viewed as being insufficient.

The Conference brought together more than 45,000 people in the Egyptian coastal city of Sharm el-Sheikh from November 6 to 20, including more than 100 Heads of State, government representatives, scientists, policymakers, and activists. The purpose of the conference was to discuss the future of climate action globally and across various sectors.

"We have treated some of the symptoms but not cured the patient from its fever." President Von der Lyen stated for the outcomes of COP27. The COP27 has established the framework for a new system of solidarity between those in need and those in a position to assist, as well as opened a new chapter on financing loss and damage. The 1.5C target was preserved but it hasn't followed through on pledges to phase out fossil fuels or new commitments to combat climate change made by the world's major emitters.

Some most important outcomes were firstly that there is still no consensus on how and where the financing should be obtained, also a rise of 1.5C marks the point at which global warming becomes extremely dangerous. However, there has been significant concern that the idea's support would be weakened, particularly because India and China were concerned that it was no longer scientifically possible. Moreover, The provision to promote "low-emissions energy" was included in the final version of Cop27. That could refer to a variety of things, including wind and solar farms, nuclear power plants, and coal-fired power plants with carbon capture and storage systems. It might also be taken to indicate gas, a major fossil fuel while having fewer emissions than coal.
Finally a pledge to gradually reduce the usage of coal was made last year in Glasgow. During the 30 years of climate change conferences, it was the first time a resolution on fossil fuels had been included in the final text. Some nations, led by India, sought to go farther at Cop27 and include a pledge to phase out all fossil fuels. Intense debate continued on that topic far into Saturday night, but it ultimately came to naught, and the resolution included was the same as that in Glasgow.


4Team Europe implements two programs in Central Asia focused on energy and digital connectivity as part of the Global Gateway (20 Nov. 2022)

At the EU-Central Asia Connectivity Conference for Sustainable Development held on 18 November in Samarkand, co-host Josep Borrell, the High Representative and Vice-President, announced the launch of two flagship initiatives for the EU Global Gateway on water, energy, and climate change as well as digital connectivity. These Team Europe programs will support the resilience, prosperity, and regional collaboration outlined in the EU Strategy for Central Asia while also having the potential to make a significant contribution to the region's sustainable economic and human development.

The Team Europe Initiative on Water, Energy, and Climate Change will help five Central Asian nations manage their water and energy resources responsibly, handle environmental issues, and combat climate change.

There will be a combined initial investment of €700 million from the EU, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Romania, Slovakia, the European Investment Bank (EIB), and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), including €200 million from the EU budget. This includes brand-new initiatives like the Regional Action for Central Asia in 2023 Europe and the two bilateral water and energy programs with Tajikistan for 2021 and 2022.

The development of a regionally integrated power market, the control of transboundary water resources, and the incorporation of climate change in the regional political discussion on water, energy, and the environment will be the main areas of attention.

By balancing the needs of upstream hydroelectricity generation with downstream water needs for agricultural output, Central Asian countries will be assisted with managing and sharing their scarce water and energy resources responsibly and fairly. The International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea will be improved as part of this project, along with the National Policy Dialogues on Integrated Water Resources Management in Central Asia and the investigation of novel approaches to better manage the water-energy nexus.


5Australia-EU leaders emphasised their shared commitment to taking urgent and ambitious climate action at G20 meeting (16 Nov. 2022)

Charles Michel, President of the European Council, and Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, held the second Australia-EU leaders' meeting with Anthony Albanese, Prime Minister of Australia, in the margins of the G20 Summit in Bali, Indonesia.
The leaders emphasised their shared commitment to taking urgent and ambitious action: to address climate change, natural disasters, biodiversity loss and environmental degradation to support small, developing and vulnerable states, including Pacific island countries The EU and Australia are committed to developing closer cooperation on climate change and global just energy transition towards climate neutrality pathways.
The relevant ministers will meet in the first half of 2023 to push for high impact opportunities for cooperation. The next Australia-EU High Level Dialogue on Climate Change and High Level Dialogue on Energy will take place in 2023.

The leaders also agreed to cooperate on building resilient, ethical and sustainable critical minerals supply chains, specifically through the future Australia-EU trade agreement.

They highlighted the importance of promoting best practice and alignment on sustainable finance, and the EU welcomed Australia’s interest in joining the International Platform on Sustainable Finance.


6COP27: ILO introduces efforts on finance tools for a Just Transition and Green Jobs for Youth. (13 Nov. 2022)

The ILO presented a daring cooperation to hasten the creation of green jobs for young people during the first week of the UN Climate Change Conference. It also unveiled the Just Transition Finance Tool on Banking and Investment Activities and unveiled the Just Transition Pavilion.

A collaboration with the UN and other organizations, known as the Youth Pact, seeks to eliminate the skills gap for young people in developing nations and concentrate on sectors that are sensitive to climate change. One million new green occupations, one million current jobs that are greened, and supporting 10,000 green entrepreneurs are among its objectives.

The Pact is a component of the ILO's efforts to encourage a Just Transition to a more sustainable and environmentally friendly future. It brings together the ILO, LinkedIn, the European Commission, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), and the Children and Youth Constituency of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The Just Transition Finance Tool on Banking and Investment Activities was introduced by the ILO and the London School of Economics Grantham Research Institute for Climate Change and Environment on November 10.

The effort intends to give financial institutions useful guidance, cutting-edge techniques, and links to pertinent materials on how to integrate a just transition lens into their operations in accordance with the Paris Agreement. It highlights entry points for a methodical integration of social considerations in financial institutions' approach to a just transition and concentrates on banking and investment activities.

During the launch, Vic Van Vuuren, Director of the Enterprises Department at the ILO, said, “we are seeing first movers, we are seeing concrete actions coming from the financial sector. But to move from the current nascent stage into mainstream, the sector can benefit from further guidance. We trust that the tool will support implementation of tangible measures.”


7Cyprus presents a regional climate change program (11 Nov. 2022)

On November 8 at the United Nations World Summit on Climate Change (COP27), in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, Cyprus presented a near-completion plan which alleviates the regional effects of climate change.

“The initiative of the Republic of Cyprus, after holding a series of regional meetings and two Ministerial Meetings with the establishment of an interim Secretariat, is in its final stage of implementation with concrete actions”, President Nikos Anastasiades affirmed.

The president also stated that “A declaration which aims to implement the regional action plan and cross-border activities to halt the climate crisis and mitigate its devastating effects. With the assistance of all the ministries involved, especially the ministry of agriculture and the significant contribution of the Cyprus Institute, we can now boast that we have coordinated and developed an effective, scientifically based, and targeted regional action plan”.

The initiative's goals include lowering greenhouse gas and carbon emissions, guiding the switch to cleaner, renewable energy sources, encouraging companies to invest in green technologies, and generating new jobs in the green sector.

The regional plan involves more than 240 scientists and technocrats from the wider region and comprises focused projects in 13 theme areas on topics like energy, technology, migration, cultural heritage, water resources, research, tourism, and water and forestry resources.

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi expressed his appreciation for President Anastasiades’s commitment to achieve outcomes that could result in the realization of climate pledges.

He also emphasized that one of the most crucial instruments for international climate action is the Voluntary Initiatives (VIs), which were created to mobilize efforts to combat climate change.


8“We are on a highway to climate hell”, UN Secretary General says at COP27 (8 Nov. 2022)

With a clear message that the world is on a highway to climate hell, unless fast and bold climate action is taken, the UN Secretaty General Antonio Guteres initiated today the COP27 Summit in Egypt.

According to the UN Secretary General “the science is clear, any hope of limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees means achieving global net zero emissions by 2050… We need all hands on deck for faster, bolder, climate action. A window of opportunity remains open, but only a narrow shaft of light remains. The global climate fight will be won or lost, and one thing is certain, those that give up are sure to lose.”

From November 6 – 18, 110 world leaders and ministers gathered in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt for the biggest annual conference on climate action, COP27. The key aim of COP27 is to ensure the implementation of the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, and builds upon the results of COP26 to fulfill commitments to finance climate action in developing countries, as well as to act on a number of other issues crucial to addressing the climate emergency, such as rapidly reducing greenhouse gas emissions, fostering resilience, and adapting to the unavoidable effects of climate change.

The Conference takes place within a deteriorating geopolitical environment, with millions of people around the world currently dealing with the effects of concurrent energy, food, water, and cost of living crises. In this unfavorable environment, some nations have started to stall or reverse their climate policy and increased their reliance on fossil fuels.


9Converting Cyprus to a green, integrated, market-based energy model (1 Nov. 2022)

As Cyprus is urged to transition to follow a one-way road towards the investment of renewable energy resources and interconnectivity, The Mediterranean Growth Initiative (MGI), PRIO, and Alma Economics examined the situation in Cyprus and established a general course for the future of the country's energy market and interconnectivity in the area.

Humanity risks a future of disastrous climatic effects and instability if urgent and serious action is not taken in the energy sector. Only 15% of Cyprus's electricity was produced by renewable sources in 2021, demonstrating the country's heavy reliance on fossil fuels. Cyprus is not yet connected to other nations' grids in terms of grid interconnectivity, though there are plans for the EuroAsia Interconnector to start up in 2026. Cyprus is also anticipated to implement a competitive electricity plan by the end of 2022. Norway, which is connected to other nations, mainly relies on renewable energy sources, and utilizes a market-based and adaptable energy plan, can teach Cyprus vital lessons.

It is necessary to realize present goals and make new arrangements in order to move toward a green linked market-based paradigm. Physical interconnection, energy storage systems, grid modernization, complete liberalization of the electricity market, cross-border trading, and transparency are some of the essential components of such a model. A scheme like this would assist Cyprus by lowering CO2 emissions, ensuring the security of its energy supply, and lowering electricity prices. The typical electricity user might reduce their annual energy costs by €200.


10Cyprus hosted the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum: Prospects for a regional energy security (15 Oct. 2022)
The Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF) was held in Nicosia, Cyprus on 14 October 2022. Minister of Energy, Commerce and Industry Natasa Pilides led the conversation as Forum President.

EMGF focused on the European Union’s efforts to distance itself from Russian gas due to the ongoing invasion of Ukraine by Russia. Major gas discoveries in offshore areas in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Levant have brought renewed interest to stakeholders, particularly since the disruption of gas flows from Russia following its invasion of Ukraine.

Should the EU wean itself clean off Russian gas, then all regional gas-producing countries and numerous key stakeholders may be affected, hence the discussion centred on the matter.

Participants included the EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson, the Energy Ministers of Egypt, Jordan and Greece, as well as the Secretary General of the forum, Osama Mobarez. Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, Israel, France, Italy, Jordan, and Palestine all equally participate as members of the EMGF. The EU, the World Bank, and the United States also retained their observer status at the Forum.

The discussions during the forum focused on how the Eastern Mediterranean region can be utilised better for the EU's own energy security challenges in the long run.

Nonetheless, while funding from institutions like the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the European Investment Bank will be required, both the EBRD and the EIB declared that investments in oil and gas projects would be scrapped, in order to align with the EU's climate change goals.

Countries such as Egypt reacted to this specific position, arguing that the green transition can be run in parallel with regional investment in hydrocarbons, with the latter acting as a catalyst for building greener technologies.


119th Ministerial Conference on the Environment for Europe (9 Oct. 2022)
On 5-7 October 2022, the 9th Ministerial Conference on the Environment for Europe, organised by the Republic of Cyprus with the support of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) took place in Nicosia, Cyprus. It was preceded by the Special Session of the Environmental Policy Committee on 3-4 October, as well as the Special Session of the Steering Committee for Education for Sustainable Development on 4 October.

The 2 main topics of this conference were the following:

  • "Greening the economy in the pan-European region: working towards sustainable infrastructure?"
  • "Applying principles of circular economy to sustainable tourism"
Moreover, the Conference was presided over by the high-level officials in charge of the issues of environment and education in Cyprus. It concluded with the ministerial declaration regarding the confirmation of the countries' commitment to the transition to a green economy based on sustainable infrastructure.

Furthermore, the countries were invited to participate and undertake actions within the framework of the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative. The need for greater education regarding sustainable development issues was also highlighted.