The failure of COP27, and what Scientist Rebellion says about 1.5°C

Joseph Green

About the failure of the 2022 UN environmental conference (excerpts).

The full text and reference notes can be found at

- COP27: Greenwashing the road to disaster
- Scientist Rebellion and 1,000 academics declare that "Continuing to say
publicly 1.5°C is still alive is no longer defensible"

COP27: Greenwashing the road to disaster

The UN climate conference, COP27, has come to an end. It has taken place
during a year which has seen climate disasters that have affected entire
regions, such as the Pakistan floods that affected over 30 million people. It
is taking place when many climate scientists are saying that considerable
permanent damage is almost certainly inevitable, no matter what we do. The
goal of the Paris Agreement of 2015 (COP21) of restricting global warming to
1.5 degrees Celsius (almost 3 degrees Fahrenheit) is not going to be met.

... But the world bourgeoisie is complacent; it is still doing business as
usual. Indeed establishment news accounts even echo the UN saying that it
was a "historic achievement" that COP27 established a fund for the richer
countries to pay for some of the environmental "loss and damage" suffered
by the poorer countries of the Global South. But in fact there was only an
agreement to negotiate further on how to set up the fund and who would pay
for it. Meanwhile the damages are going to get worse and worse, and
eventually affect rich and industrialized countries too, as the climate

Thus COP27 was a conference of greenwashers, who spout environmental
words while continuing to let the situation decay ...

Times's Up

COP27 should have been an emergency conference. It met at a time when
it is unlikely that the world can avoid a good deal of permanent
environmental damage. The threat of global warming has been known for
half a century. [1] Had measures been taken in a timely way, they could have
been gradual and incremental, and major climate change could have been

But the situation now is that the world faces the likelihood that one or
more major "tipping points" will be passed, in which environmental damage
causes irreversible changes, or has already been passed. Recent reports
indicate that "At 1.5C of heating,....four...tipping points move from being
possible to likely ... Also at 1.5C, an additional five tipping points become
possible, including changes to vast northern forests and the loss of almost all
mountain glaciers." [2]

And there is little doubt that the world is going to pass 1.5C. Many
academics have signed a letter which holds that "continuing to say publicly
1.5° C is still alive is no longer defensible" (see the appended letter from
Scientist Rebellion). ...

Market measures must be replaced by
overall economic planning and regulation

The present environmental disaster is the result of the failure of market
fundamentalism and of the increasingly market-oriented state-capitalist
regimes. By the time of the first major world environmental treaty, the
Kyoto Protocol, the world bourgeoisie had moved to replace strict
environmental rules with market measures such as carbon trading. This
went along with the move to privatize government functions, rely on
corporate self-reporting, work through public-private partnerships, and
allow the big polluters to capture the agencies supposedly regulating them.

The only way to have the needed rapid cuts in carbon emissions is to have
direct regulation of the entire economy. ...

A different type of planning

This will mean a different type of planning than what has existed before.
[3] Some changes will eventually be forced on governments by the
emergency conditions and economic crises caused by repeated environmental
disasters. But the governments will still enforce the narrowest corporate
interests, harming both the environment and the people's livelihood, unless
the workers are able to exert constant pressure. For example, it is impossible
to ensure that companies are producing in a clean way unless there is the
mass involvement of their workers in checking how the production is carried
out at workplaces. Also, both companies and government agencies must be
required to produce reports that are comprehensible to people. As it is now,
not just company reports, but government and UN environmental reports are
needlessly obscure, so that readers aren´t able to see what is really going on
and exercise some supervision over the government agencies.

Under capitalism, government agencies will serve the overall interests of
the capitalist class. So the transformation to a new type of planning can only
be partially done. But some change in this direction is essential if there is to
be progress in dealing with global warming and the other environmental
catastrophes that are facing us. The fight over how far such changes are
made will be an important part of the coming class struggles around the
world, and it will be an essential part of building a movement towards
socialism. ...

The belief that money solves everything

So COP27 shows again the world bourgeoisie doesn´t see the need for
major change. It still believes in business-as-usual, and thinks that the
climate crisis isn´t going to lead to major change, but just to some special
surcharges to pay for some environmental projects. ...

Loss and damages

Thus the main debate at COP27 was over whether the rich countries
would pay loss and damages to poorer countries who were desperate when
hit by major floods or droughts. The world bourgeoisie still believes that
money solves anything, and the richer countries still use financial aid to
demand that the recipient countries either pay off loans or adjust their
economy to market fundamentalist dogma.

It is just for the poor countries to receive aid, but not only aren´t they
being given much, but the discussion over loss and damage avoided dealing
with the main issues brought forward by the climate disasters. For example:

* There are no promises about how to help the millions of climate
refugees who can be expected in the future.

* There are no promises to provide the needed technical knowledge for
poorer countries to be able to rebuild by themselves.

* There is no promise to stop putting burdensome conditions on aid, and
no recognition that various countries will be forced, one by one, to abandon
the market fundamentalist regimen of the present world economy.

* There is no attempt to judge what material resources will be available
in the future to help victims of climate disasters, victims who will be in all
the countries of the world. There needs to be planning to ensure material
needs. One can´t eat money; money allows the rich to dominate the poor, but
it won´t allow one to buy food stocks that no longer exist. ...

by Joseph Green, Detroit Workers' Voice

Continuing to say publicly 1.5°C is still alive is no longer defensible

Below are excerpts from the text of an open letter
( being circulated by Scientist
Rebellion for signatures from the academic community. SR states that "Over
one thousand academics from more than 40 countries have now signed,
including prominent scholars and IPCC contributors." (A previous open letter
from Scientist Rebellion is discussed at "Scientists organize protest against
climate change inaction" and "What Scientist Rebellion wants the world to
hear", May 15, 2022

Dear Reader,

Forty years after the first climate summit in Geneva in 1979, 11,000
scientists published a manifesto in 2019
( to clearly
warn humanity of any catastrophic threat and to "tell it like it is".

... How do we honor the public's growing trust in our expert community in
the face of looming catastrophes of climate and ecological breakdown? It is
simple: academics must share with the public what they share with each
other about the world's response to climate change and biodiversity loss.

The Paris Agreement´s goal of restricting global average temperature rise to
below 1.5°C is a case in point. Senior academics accept there is no plausible
pathway to 1.5°C. This requires global emissions to peak before 2025 and be
reduced by 43% by 2030. Even that would likely lead to 1.5°C being exceeded
within the next ten years. The most optimistic scenario reported by the IPCC
rests on the hypothetical deployment of large-scale carbon dioxide removal
technologies to drag temperatures back down by the end of the century.

A 2021 anonymous survey
( of world-leading
climate scientists by the science journal Nature, revealed just 4% of
respondents thought limiting warming to 1.5°C was likely. The majority
thought the world is heading towards a catastrophic 3°C of warming by the
end of the century.

Continuing to say publicly 1.5°C is still alive is no longer defensible ...

And so we academics must act. As signees to this letter, we compassionately
call upon the community of scientists working across all aspects of climate
change to make a clear public statement ahead of COP27 in November,
consisting of the following:

* First, make clear the inevitability of missing the 1.5°C goal as laid out by
the IPCC in its latest assessment.

# Second, set out the challenge of restricting temperature rise to `well below
2°C´ (in line with 2015 Paris Agreement) using the most conservative
assumptions about the potential of negative emissions technologies. This is
to reflect scientific uncertainty on the subject, and to show the public the
enormity of reducing carbon emissions in line with scientific findings.

# Finally, and in direct response to the above, call for the three pillars of
climate policy - mitigation, adaptation, and compensation (i.e. loss &
damage) - to be effective. This means rich nations treating a still unmet
pledge to deliver $100 billion per annum to help poorer countries to cope
with climate change, as a minimum starting point. ...

Our first responsibility has not changed: tell the truth - as far as we can
discern it. Academics cannot fix decades of delay, but we can help societies
take the radical action now needed to limit even worse outcomes. In
remembering our humanity, we can act to restore it.


Featured signers .... <>

Barry Brooks

Setting zero to whatever number you like is an old trick.
The Paris Agreement called for a special report by the IPCC on the
impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and
related global greenhouse gas emission pathways. In the report, the
IPCC first defines pre-industrial as "the multi-century period prior to
the onset of large-scale industrial activity around 1750". Yet, the
IPCC then proceeds to use the period 1850-1900 to "approximate"
pre-industrial. This raises the questions, has the IPCC been
downplaying the temperature rise and is this continuing?