These five takeaways from COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh; cover everything from loss and damage to 1.5C to World Bank reform.
The talks in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, came close to collapsing and went over by two days. As delegates were exhausted after a confusing and chaotic 48 hours, lukewarm applause welcomed the historic “loss and damage fund” agreement. Despite that, it’s a big symbolic and political statement from developed nations that have long opposed climate change funds.
RELEVANT SUSTAINABLE GOALS
1: Loss and Damage funds, At Last !
After After 30 years of deadlock, almost 200 countries agreed to set up a loss and damage fund to help nations most affected by climate change. COP27 was extended by a day after negotiators couldn’t agree on the fund – leading to UN Secretary-General António Guterres saying on Friday, November 18, 2022, that the time for talking about loss and damage finance is over. He alluded to a growing breakdown of trust between developing and developed countries.
Speaking in the closing plenary, COP President H.E. Sameh Shoukry noted: “This was not easy. We worked around the clock. Long days and nights. Strained and sometimes tense, but united and working for one aim, one higher purpose, one common goal that we all subscribe to and aspire to achieve. In the end, we delivered.”
The decision regarding the climate damage marked a breakthrough on one of the most contentious issues at United Nations climate negotiations. However, there is still a great deal of uncertainty about how it would work.
2: Least Progress on Fossil Fuels
In Sharm El-Sheikh, COP27 failed to prevent further expansion of oil and gas operations. Almost no changes have been made to the final draft from the previous draft, with the exception of supporting “low-emission energy” as well as renewable energy. This is potentially a loophole for gas (being less polluting than coal, or even fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage (CCS).
As quoted from BBC, attendees connected to the oil and gas industry were everywhere at COP27. Some 636 were part of country delegations and trade teams. The crammed pavilions felt at times like a fossil fuel trade fair. This influence was clearly reflected in the final text.
3: Forest and Climate Leaders’ Partnership launched at COP27
Forest and Climate Leaders Partnership (FCLP), a voluntary partnership of 26 countries committed to halting and reversing forest loss and land degradation by 2030, was launched on November 7th at COP27.
The partnership is co-chaired by the US and Ghana, with member countries committing to lead in FCLP action areas that are then supported, led, established or showcased by the FCLP. These action areas are:
- International collaboration on the sustainable land use economy and supply chains
- Mobilising public and donor finance to support implementation
- Shifting the private finance system
- Supporting Indigenous Peoples’ and local communities’ initiatives
- Strengthening and scaling carbon markets for forests
- Partnerships and incentives for preserving high-integrity forests.
4: The end of hope for Limiting Global Warming to 1.5 Degrees Celsius
Climate conference COP27 in Egypt may be remembered as the moment the world stopped trying to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. This is the most ambitious goal set by the 2015 Paris Agreement.
The U.N. report released just before COP27, the pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions put the planet on a path to heat between 2.1 and 2.9 degrees, which would lead to catastrophic climate impacts, including even more deadly heatwaves, worsening droughts and water shortages, crop failures, as well degradation of ecosystems that could wipe out some species of mammals, insects, birds and plants.
For two weeks, “rich countries have stonewalled, delayed and distracted … trying to kick the can down the road with more demands for assessments, reports and dialogues,” said Teresa Anderson, the global lead for climate justice for ActionAid International, an NGO focused on women’s rights, poverty and climate equity.
5: Over-reliance on offsets and carbon trading
The frustrations about the COP27 negotiations extended to the highest level, with U.N. Secretary General António Guterres expressing concern about so-called net zero targets that rely on carbon trading and offsets to achieve climate goals. Under such programs, countries and companies can keep emitting greenhouse gases by buying credits, planting trees or preserving patches of forest that theoretically absorb those emissions.
The current state of Earth, is rapid depletion of all species of life, including human, and the forces driving that depletion are non-linear, their rates increasing exponentially, as the environment deteriorates, exponentially. The world cannot afford to have another COP like this one that fails to increase ambition, finance and credibility.
Lead image courtesy of @jcomp via Freepik.