This year’s climate summit, the COP27, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, which began on 5 November and wrapped up on 20 November, was attended by hundreds of world leaders and thousands of delegates representing nations and organisations to address the climate crises.
So, what took place during the event and are there any significant achievements at this year’s COP?
Climate expert and University of Canterbury professor Bronwyn Hayward commented on the COP27, saying that it was a “lengthy, chaotic and at times deeply divisive fortnight of negotiations”, which has produced one historic win but nothing else (COP27 comes, 2022).
She said little else could be celebrated when it comes to the final text agreed upon at the culmination of the summit. Hayward says there is no apparent commitment by the government to achieve the 1.5°C goals.
“Problems of transparency and accountability also became more confronting at these talks, with over 600 oil and gas industry lobbyists present in negotiations, there was significant unease expressed by many about their influence. While the agreements kept the wording of last year’s Glasgow agreement to ‘phasedown unabated coal power’ and ‘phase-out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies’, there was significant concern that the text overall was ‘watered down’ in negotiations. For example, introducing the term’ low emissions energy’, which some argue provides a potential loophole for increasing use of natural gas with consequences for increased methane and CO2 emissions”, Hayward added (COP27 comes, 2022).
Establishing the loss and damage fund is perhaps COP27’s most notable achievement this year. It represents a hard-won victory for Pacific Island nations and developing countries struggling to cope with the consequences wrought by climate change.
For nearly thirty years, the most vulnerable countries have demanded that big emitters, which they deem responsible for causing climate change, pay them for the damages and loss due to extreme weather.
This year, wealthy countries have finally acknowledged the need to contribute to the costs, and as the gavel went down to confirm the agreement on the Loss and Damage fund, it was a bittersweet moment for the Pacific Island nations.
What more did COP27 accomplish?
We share what the Climate Home News covered and published on this year’s COP.
While “loss and damage” has been the focus of this year’s COP, little was accomplished in confronting the oil and gas sector. Climate change news reports there was little effort to stop polluters from causing more damage, and the language to phase out all fossil fuels was missing in the final text.
Instead, Egypt promoted fossil fuel gas and struck a deal with countries, including like Saudi Arabia and Russia, that made an argument that oil doesn’t cause global warming. Emissions do.
They instead promote “low emissions” energy alongside renewables, gas as less polluting than coal, and fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage.
Loss and damage fund
This year’s wealthy nations agreed to establish a fund to pay for the loss and damage but with conditions that it should go to the most vulnerable developing counties, combined with decisive action to reduce emissions.
Developing countries accepted this offer. Money will be paid through existing funding arrangements like development banks of debt relief and from innovative sources, which could mean taxes on fossil fuels, aviation or shipping.
Negotiators agreed to set up a work programme to scale up mitigation ambition and implementation in this critical decade.
Developed countries wanted to prolong the talks to 2030, but developing countries wanted it to be short or only until 2023, and both camps compromised in 2026.
Developing countries’ wishes on how the mitigation process should go are reflected in the language of the text as “non-prescriptive, non-punitive, facilitative, respectful of national sovereignty and national circumstances” and “not result in new targets or goals”.
Restructuring the IMF for green and climate-resilient investments
Barbados PM Mia Mottley floated the concept. Barbados is one of the smallest nations but came up with big ideas on how the World Bank and IMF can reform financing structures to make funding more accessible to help the most vulnerable countries build resilience, address climate change and meet their development goals.
The idea is known as the Bridgetown agenda, named after Barbado’s capital, where Mottley first gathered the world leaders in July to launch her ideas (Mia Mottley,2022). The plan involves shifting trillion dollars of funding into green and climate-resilient investments.
The Bridgetown agenda has gained traction at COP27 as negotiators have agreed that vast amounts of investments – the IEA estimated $4 trillion of investment is needed in renewables annually by 2030 to reach net-zero goals by 2050. Developing countries need around $5.6 trillion to meet their 2030 goals.
Countries agreed that delivering this funding would require a “transformation of the financial system and its structures”. According to the article, discussions around Mottley’s proposal will continue until next year’s spring.
Carbon Trading Rules
At last year’s COP in Glasgow, negotiators outlined a broad framework for a new global carbon trading scheme, and this year, they filled in the gaps.
This year’s COP27 text creates a two-tier carbon market, applying different rules depending on who buys the carbon credit and for what purposes.
Negotiators have cautioned against double counting carbon credits, corporate greenwashing, and making carbon trades between countries transparent.
Just energy transition
The energy crisis has led some counties to ramp up their fossil fuel production again to deal with the lack of supply.
COP27 has acknowledged this and highlights the need to accelerate the renewable energy transition. Deals between rich and developing countries to finance their transition is one way to speed up the transition.
Partnerships on just energy transition are already underway. South Africa struck an $8.4 billion plan last year at Glasgow with the Just Energy Transition Program (JETP)- composed of donor countries which include the United States, Japan, the United Kingdom and some EU countries.
This year, Indonesia has a $20 billion deal with JETP to transition their energy sector from coal to renewables.
Climate adaptation success is more complicated to measure than counting avoided emissions in climate mitigation.
At COP27, countries develop a framework to guide the delivery of the goal and track progress. This will consider countries’ vulnerability and capacity to cope, including water, food, agriculture, and poverty, and science-based indicators, metrics, and targets.
But the climate adaptation front is poorly funded, and negotiators are calling for developed countries to scale up their provision of climate finance.
Failing to meet wealthy countries’ $100 billion pledge is why talks on a new collective climate finance goal for 2025 had a slow start.
Contributors prefer to lend money for projects that slash emissions, but recipients want public grants for unprofitable but needed adaptation projects.
Developed countries want to expand the donor base for loss and damage funding.
COP27 comes to a close – Expert Reaction. (2022 November 21). Science Media Centre. Retrieved from https://www.sciencemediacentre.co.nz/2022/11/21/cop27-comes-to-a-close-expert-reaction/
What was decided at COP27 climate talks in Sharm el-Sheikh? (2022, 20 November). Climate Home News. Retrieved from https://www.climatechangenews.com/2022/11/20/what-was-decided-at-cop27-climate-talks-in-sharm-el-sheikh/
Mia Mottley builds global coalition to make financial system fit for climate action. (23 September 2022). Climate Home News. Retrieved from https://www.climatechangenews.com/2022/09/23/mia-mottley-builds-global-coalition-to-make-financial-system-fit-for-climate-action/
COP27 was ‘bitter, divisive, chaotic’, climate change expert says. (2022, 21 November). RNZ. Retrieved from https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/479183/cop27-was-bitter-divisive-chaotic-climate-change-expert-says
The images used in creating the composite featured image were taken from https://unfccc.int/cop27/photos