The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen and the Kazakh Prime Minister, Alikhan Smailov, signed the new memorandum on November 7. Image credit: https://ec.europa.eu/.
The annual Conference of the Parties, also known as COP, is currently taking place in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. The conference started on November 6 and will last until November 18. The attendees are all the countries that signed the 1992 UN climate agreement and, since then, have met every year to discuss global environmental issues.
Furthermore, since the Paris Agreement on global warming was signed in 2015, the COPs have acquired a more significant role as one of the main goals is to reduce global warming by decreasing the rising temperatures and setting them to a standard of 1.5 °C.
This year, the focus will be on shifting toward renewable energy sources. Several politicians stressed this. One of these was British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who underlined the importance of moving faster to renewable energies to end overreliance on fossil fuels. This need, the minister says, was made more imperative since the Russo-Ukrainian war and the disruptions generated after the Kremlin cut gas supplies to Europe.
Likewise, the European Union confirmed this trend through the declarations of the President of the Council of Europe, Charles Michel, and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. Charles Michel stated: "We are and will remain champions of climate action. We are determined to protect nature, the oceans and the forests, which make up our lungs and are guarantors of human life on earth and of biodiversity." The main three goals, in his view, are supporting developing countries, helping the new generations, and supporting global citizens in general.
Ursula von der Leyen stressed the need to move onto cleaner forms of energy while phasing out the reliance on fossil fuels, goals summed up in the ambitious and recently launched program REPowerEu. According to this, greenhouse gas emissions should be reduced by 55 percent by 2030. This explains why the EU has recently signed agreements with Namibia, Egypt, and Kazakhstan.
The partnership with Kazakhstan can open new energy routes to the EU and help Astana diversify its exports and detach itself from the traditional Russian sphere of influence. On November 7, Ursula von der Leyen and the Kazakh Prime Minister, Alikhan Smailov, signed a memorandum. The new partnership aims to strengthen the cooperation on raw materials, batteries, and renewable hydrogen necessary for the green energy transition.
The agreement also complies with the new goals set by the Kazakh government in its carbon neutrality doctrine. This doctrine, announced by the Kazakh President, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, in December 2020 aims to achieve total carbon neutrality by 2060. As a result, the new low-carbon economy can be realized through several fruitful collaborations, such as the one recently signed with the EU. In this regard, von der Leyen carefully stressed that the memorandum will benefit both sides: “A secure and sustainable supply of raw materials, refined materials and renewable hydrogen is a key layer to help build a new, cleaner foundation for our economies, especially as we move away from our dependency on fossil fuels.”
Furthermore, this new memorandum is in line with the new green pathway undertaken by the Central Asian country. Accordingly, Prime Minister Smailov stressed the significance of technological development and "the need to introduce knowledge sharing and transfer of clean technologies, including within the framework of the Paris Agreement."
Kazakhstan’s ambitious goal is to establish itself as a green hub and a corridor between east and west. This was achieved recently in the gas and oil sectors by investing more in the so-called "middle corridor," the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline. Shipping larger quantities of gas to Europe through this pipeline would allow Astana to reduce its reliance on Russia, as most Kazakh gas is currently shipped through the CPC pipeline that crosses the Russian city of Novorossiysk. This is a powerful lever exploited by the Kremlin to disrupt the Kazakh economy. A similar incident occurred in July 2022 when a Russian court ordered the pipeline shut down due to environmental concerns.
This new memorandum signed within COP 27 bears a double significance for both signatories. On the one hand, it is a clear sign from Kazakhstan that Russia cannot decide on matters concerning Astana’s economy and cooperation with other external partners, especially western ones. On the other hand, it is a unique occasion for Europe to realize the sought-after green transition set out in the recently launched REPowerEu program and, like Astana, reduce the effects of overreliance on Russian gas.
Edited by: Lou Igounet
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