The Highs and Lows of COP27

The Highs and Lows of COP27 

After just over two weeks, the 27th annual COP is over. The international climate summit took place in Sharm el-Sheikh and saw over 45,000 attendees. Negotiation topics ranged from biodiversity to gender to the now landmark loss and damage fund; and talks extended through to Sunday morning, 40 hours past the original deadline. An agreement has, however, been reached and signed by almost 200 countries. Here’s what you need to know: 

The Agreement reiterates the need to stay within 1.5°C, but notably, the previous commitment to peak emissions in 2025, was left out of the text.  

Commitments on greenhouse gases and the coal phase-down were also left out, despite some countries, such as India, pushing for the phase-down of all fossil fuels. The document instead recognised the need to ‘rapidly transform energy systems’ by ‘accelerating clean and just transitions to renewable energy during this critical decade of action’ but provided no plan as to how this would be achieved or measured.  

For the first time, however, specific chapters on agriculture, oceans and forests were included, encouraging Parties to consider nature-based solutions and ecosystem-based approaches in their climate plans. 

Developed countries were urged to ‘significantly scale up their provision of climate finance, technology transfer and capacity building for adaptation’, as part of a global effort to support more vulnerable countries. Developed countries were also invited to contribute to the Least Developed Countries Fund and the Special Climate Change Fund which work as financial instruments to support vulnerable nations address the negative impacts of climate change. 

The agreement also included the landmark decision to establish, for the first time, new funding arrangements to assist vulnerable, developing countries, in responding to loss and damage. This has been a key demand from developing nations over the last 30 years and was brought to the official agenda for the first time this year. Further details on how this fund will operate will likely be addressed in next year’s COP, to be held in the UAE.  

Some are hailing this decision as the only success of this year’s COP, with many, including the UK’s representative Alok Sharma expressing disappointment that Parties were not more ambitious in their commitments to address carbon emissions. Nevertheless, “This outcome moves us forward,” says Simon Stiell, UN Climate Change Executive Secretary, adding “The next step for change is just around the corner, with the United Arab Emirates’.  

22 November 2022
Catherine Barrett
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