Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt
CFACT made the rounds among the delegations from the multitude of nations at the United Nations Climate Summit.
The main conference venue contained a series of large makeshift buildings on a sprawling open space just beyond downtown Sharm el-Sheikh. It was a seamless entry to the conference center, as compared to last year’s event in Glasgow, Scotland, which had multiple security checks and Covid still a preoccupation. Absent a handful of people wearing masks, Covid is a non-issue this year; in practice, the pandemic emergency is over.
Participating nations from every continent had pavilions set up throughout the conference facility, some of which had elaborate set-ups. For example, India had a model city on display with electric towers, wind turbines, solar panels, electric vehicles and a section of new forest – call it an “eco-topia” (my description). Not a drop of oil, gas or coal in site and plastic products contraband. In this brave new world, the India delegate with whom we spoke envision strict laws and fines against manufacturers and citizens for using plastic products like shopping bags and straws.
A British display allowed delegates to take a “virtual” look into a sustainable future. By donning 3-D goggles, one got a chance to see in vivid display an eco-Nirvana world where transitions are occurring in energy and waste management toward a net zero planet. Like the climate models, one can’t help but wonder if such computer simulations in any way reflect reality — but the delegates here seem content to just go along with the show.
Several Middle Eastern nations were present and displaying their embrace of alternative energy, notwithstanding their economies operate from copious oil reserves. Most Middle Eastern nations — like Egypt which hosts the conference – rely on fossil fuels to generate 90% or more of their electricity.
Qatar’s pavilion displayed elaborate models of stadiums and buildings the nation was constructing, each of which would be supplied with solar powered electricity to some small, symbolic degree, considering that 99.8 percent of the nation’s energy comes from oil. When we asked why they even bothered with solar considering their vast oil abundance, the Qatar representative wanted no part of that discussion.
Then there were representatives from the Sociocultural Association of Yawanawa of Brazil, dressed in head gear and warrior make-up, who attracted quite a fan base of attendees who wanted their photos (including CFACT). They were seeking public and private investment to develop renewable energy infrastructure. Among the attendees with whom we spoke, they were not exclusively sold on renewable sources; rather, one of them agreed that Brazil also should develop fossil fuel sources that have prospered developed nations like the U.S. for more than a century.
Words of wisdom from the Yawanawa, otherwise woefully absent among the 40,000-person COP27.