The headline to come out of COP27 at the end of the second, and final, week is the historical deal that has been agreed on loss and damage financing. It’s the first time that financing has been confirmed for developing nations for the climate change impacts they’ve already experienced, rather than only financing future mitigation and adaptation.
Developing nations are pleased that their impacts from climate change have been recognised, but many rich nations are disappointed about the lack of pledges or targets on reducing fossil fuel use and emissions. In fact, many countries are now viewing 1.5C warming, in comparison to pre-industrial levels, as scientifically impossible and so are losing interest in even trying to achieve it.
As COP27 was held in Egypt, a lot of focus was on implementation and adaptation within Africa. As a result, many financial institutions felt they didn’t have a presence in Africa and so didn’t send delegates to attend.
1. Historic deal declared for loss and damage financing: Almost 200 countries agreed a deal to launch a loss and damage fund to support poor and vulnerable countries impacted by climate change. This has been a contentious issue for nearly 30 years, with poor countries blaming developed countries for their impacts, and developing countries not wanting to support the financing for fear of ultimately accepting the blame.
It was agreed that the fund must go to the most vulnerable nations e.g. Saharan African countries and small island states and it is initially thought that it will be spent on things like destroyed homes from rising sea levels, damaged schools and hospitals from wildfires, and lost income from livestock that have starved. A committee will meet in the next few months to decide the details of who should pay and how. However, it was agreed that it shouldn’t just be developed countries that must pay, but large emerging countries like China and India as well.
2. No additional ambitions on cutting emissions: COP27 was deemed as progressively slow, with no additional targets or pledges for fossil fuels established. The Sharm-El Sheikh Implementation Plan, the Glasgow Climate Pact equivalent of COP27, doesn’t move any further ahead than what was agreed at COP26, and in fact the language around fossil fuel use is almost weakened.
3. Engagement is wavering to keep 1.5C feasible: Countries such as India and China now don’t think that 1.5C is scientifically feasible so their commitment to the idea is wavering, whereas the EU confirmed that they wouldn’t accept any deal if the commitment to 1.5C was lost. Many developed countries encouraged others to remain committed to the 1.5C target. The existing pledge to limit global warming to 1.5C was retained, but there’s concern it’s slipping out of reach. UN chief António Guterres said a “giant leap” on climate ambition is still needed and the planet is still “in the emergency room”.
As a reminder of why limiting warming to 1.5C is so important, the IPCC say that a rise of 2C would mean:
10 million more people would be at risk of coastal flooding;
Up to twice as many people would struggle to access water;
More than a third of the world’s population would be exposed to severe heatwaves once every five years – compared to a seventh at 1.5C;
The Arctic would be free of sea-ice once a decade – compared to once per century at 1.5C;
Coral reefs would become virtually non-existent, compared to declining by 70-90% at 1.5C.
4. A new Global Steel Climate Council (GSCC) launched: The coalition consists of some of the world’s largest steel manufacturers, with commitments already from 14 supporters in the US and 8 in Europe. The aim will be to create a ‘gold standard’ for low-carbon steelmaking, setting strict limits that will force manufacturers and supply chains to decarbonise through improved efficiencies and circularity. The coalition will push governments to formally adopt the standard for public procurement and, in the longer-term, make it mandatory.
5. New WWF report states the Amazon rainforest may die by 2030: This is due to the impacts of the climate crisis and man-made deforestation and would see indigenous communities severely impacted. It’s close to various tipping points and thresholds that could push it into a permanently degraded state that it can’t recover from. It warns that 34% of the Amazon biome areas has experienced at least one of three tipping points (rainfall, dry season length or deforestation). The area currently close to these tipping points equates to 2.4 million km2 which is approximately one quarter the size of Europe.
The Daily Detail:
Day 7 – Monday 14th November – Gender and Water
- Gender was chosen as a discussion point in recognition of the fact that women are disproportionately vulnerable to climate impacts but that they’ve been excluded from contributing to environmental solutions throughout history. As an example, only 7 out of the 110 world leaders to attend COP27 during the first week were women. There was little in the way of new finance or commitments on gender equality though at COP27.
- The Action for Water Adaptation and Resilience (AWARE) initiative was launched in partnership with the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and will be overseen by a new Pan-African Centre for Water Climate Adaptation. Governments are being asked to sign up and the initiative sets out three priorities:
- Decreasing water loss and waste and improving water access;
- Collaborating on water-related climate adaptation;
- Recognising the link between action on water and the delivery of key climate goals, as well as the UNSDG for 2030.
- African Cities Water Adaptation Fund (ACWA) was launched, overseen by the World Resources Institute (WRI). The aim is to implement at least 200 water adaptation projects across 100 African nations within a decade. The focus will be on improving water access as well as improving water stewardship. The Race to Resilience initiative has stated that there is a $66bn backlog in water and sanitation infrastructure investment in sub-Saharan Africa and that even if that backlog were cleared immediately, an additional $9-14bn would be needed each year this decade to ensure reliable supply.
- Last year at COP26, the ‘Glasgow Declaration for Fair Water Footprint’ was launched, with the aim to transform how the global economy interacts with water systems. It recognises the links between water, climate adaptation, biodiversity and human rights and requires signatories to take significant and measurable action this decade. Governments already involved include the UK, Finland, Malawi, Peru, Madagascar and Panama and there was a call for more to sign up.
Day 8 – Tuesday 15th November – Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) and Civil Society and Energy
- The session aimed to showcase the role of civil society in shaping the global climate agenda and implementation of the pledges. There were lots of talks and stories, however little action came out and instead the focus for the day was very much on energy.
- As part of the Global Methane Pledge, the new countries that joined were announced since it was first launched last year. There are now 150 countries that have joined, however notable absences included Russia, India and China, although China did state that they’ll publish their first national methane plan in 2023.
- The commitment to ‘phase down’ rather than ‘phase out’ fossil fuels remains the same, with some countries wanting this to be extended to oil and gas as well, but Russia and Saudi Arabia blocked that proposal. However, as part of the G20 summit in Bali that took place at the same time, a coal phase-out plan was confirmed for Indonesia, where richer countries will provide $20bn in support.
- The Africa Just and Affordable Energy Transition Initiative (AJAETI) was launched, which will run until at least 2027 and aims to facilitate affordable energy for at least 300 million people in Africa, primarily those in Sub-Saharan regions. It also aims to provide universal access to clean cooking fuels and increase the share of renewable electricity generation by 25%.
- Many African leaders tried to get support and funding to use Africa’s vast gas reserves, arguing that gas is less polluting than alternative fossil fuels such as coal and oil. They argue that countries need to exploit these reserves to help generate electricity to make it available for many who currently don’t have access and that Western countries benefitted from dirtier fossil fuels so Africa shouldn’t be prevented. However, the criticism of this is that it will lock Africa into using fossil fuels for many years and that Africa should embrace renewable energy instead, harnessing the vast solar power potential. Africa has 60% of the world’s solar power potential but only 1% of global installed solar capacity.
- The Planning for Climate Commission launched, which is a joint initiative from several major trade associations representing renewables who will work with governments to remove barriers to planning, approvals and development for projects. The Global Wind Energy Council, Global Solar Council, International Hydropower Association and Green Hydrogen Association are all joining this initiative.
- The Global Renewables Alliance launched, bringing together industry bodies and organisations for wind, solar, hydropower, green hydrogen, energy storage and geothermal sectors. It will act as a unified voice that represents the renewables industries and technologies in policy engagement and at UN climate summits.
- Net-Zero Tracker revealed that more than half of cities with pledges to reach net zero emissions have no plan for how they’ll track and report progress, with only 11% of regions and 10% of cities having interim targets to reduce emissions to net-zero. For corporate businesses this was at 20%.
- Hydrogen for Development Partnership (H4D) was launched by the World Bank Group – a new global initiative to boost the deployment of low-carbon hydrogen in developing countries. It will raise and allocate finance for low-carbon hydrogen production and distribution projects. It will also facilitate international knowledge sharing and work with governments to increase low-carbon hydrogen requirements.
Day 9 – Wednesday 16th November – Biodiversity
- Brazil’s new incoming president Lula said that there will be zero deforestation in the Amazon rainforest by 2030 and promised to update Brazil’s Paris Agreement commitments and to appoint a climate envoy. In his campaign, he also stated that Brazil would create a new collaboration with other rainforest nations to coordinate and accelerate conservation. The Amazon Fund will be relaunched when Lula is sworn in, following years of a freeze under the previous president Bolsonaro. A ministry will be created for Indigenous people, to better represent their voices in decision-making and Lula even said that Brazil would like to host COP in 2025.
- Enhancing Nature-based Solutions for Climate Transformation (ENACT) launched, which is an initiative to bring national governments and non-state actors together, including cities and regions, to close the financing gap for nature-based solutions up to 2030, improving climate resilience for 1 billion vulnerable people. Its main aims are to ensure that:
- Sustainable management practices are implemented on an additional two billion hectares of ecosystems;
- 250 million hectares of ecosystems are restored;
- Conservation processes are enhanced on a further 45 million hectares.
- The Nature for Cool Cities Pledge launched, overseen by the Cool Coalition. It’s a collaboration between NGOs and academics to ensure that as cooling needs grow, especially in cities that often experience urban heat island effects, sustainable cooling solutions are scaled up and launched.
Day 10 – Thursday 17th November – Solutions
- The focus for this day was on transport-related solutions, as transport generates around one quarter of annual global emissions. However, the day didn’t deliver any landmark breakthroughs or tangible solutions.
- The UK Government provided its first annual update on the Zero Emissions Vehicles Declaration and confirmed that 214 new signatories have joined. They are required to develop plans to end the sale of light vehicles which are not zero-emission by 2035 in leading markets, and 2040 elsewhere.
- Egypt launched the Low-Carbon Transport for Urban Sustainability (LOTUS) which focuses on transforming urban mobility systems to decrease the use of individual ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles and decarbonise public transport. It will tackle five systemic challenge areas:
- The financing gap;
- Weak policymaking;
- A lack of policy coherence;
- Siloed thinking;
- Difficulty regulating informal transport operators.
- The Collective for Clean Transport Finance was launched by a coalition including the High-Level Climate Champions and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). The Collective will measure the risk profile of investment in zero-emission transport projects and intervene strategically to help reduce risk.
- Sustainable Urban Resilience for the Next Generation (SURGe) was launched – Egypt is leading on this and cities are invited to share targets and co-create a holistic programme of delivery for climate adaptation in urban areas. Focus areas include: decarbonisation, climate adaptation, reaching nature-positivity, preserving culture and promoting human and biodiversity health.
- The Green Shipping Corridors’ annual progress reportwas released, following news that the UK, US, Norway and the Netherlands would be the first nations to commit to operating green shipping corridors. The “Green Shipping Corridor Hub” was created by the Zero-emission Shipping Mission and is the first online hub to outline the development of the corridors. It can be used to track routes and explore the planned green corridors and offers an interactive map to allow interested stakeholders to find collaborative partners.
Day 11 – Friday 18th, Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th November – Final Negotiations
- The negotiations were supposed to end on Friday but lasted long into the weekend, with the final deal being agreed on Sunday. The Sharm-El Sheikh Implementation Plan was agreed and for the first time explicitly looks at food, oceans and forests, demonstrating a recognition of the link between protecting nature and climate change. The deal also stresses the importance of not allowing ongoing geopolitical issues such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to act as an excuse for backtracking or deprioritising climate action.
- The new loss and damage deal was the main, and perhaps only, breakthrough at COP27. However, it’s worth reminding ourselves of the previous $100bn climate funding pledge (per year from developing countries to developed countries) that was established in 2009. This pledge was for mitigation and adaptation, supporting vulnerable and developing countries to deal with the impacts of climate change. However, this commitment still hasn’t been reached two years after the deadline, so there are a lot of developing nations that are wary of the promise of new funding for loss and damage.
Whilst the deal to come out of Sharm-El Sheikh on loss and damage is good, there’s an overwhelming sense that COP27 wasn’t successful, especially as there were no additional pledges or targets in reducing fossil fuel use and emissions. The gap between the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and what we need to reach the 1.5C trajectory at 2030 is a massive 20 Gt. The deal continues to commit to the 1.5C target, however there is concern that some countries are starting to lose interest as they think it is unrealistic.
In early December 2022, COP15 for Biodiversity will be held in Montreal and their main aim will be to agree on a treaty for nature this decade, similar to the Paris Agreement. Then looking onto next year, COP28 will be held in Dubai, UAE. The UAE has grown wealthy largely from oil production and is among the countries with the highest per capita greenhouse gas emissions globally.
The Climate Action Tracker website scores the UAE’s targets and policies as “highly insufficient”, stating that the country is on track for emissions to increase by 30% above 2010 levels by 2030, as it is planning to scale up oil and gas production.
However, it is one of the few countries to have submitted updated commitments ahead of COP27 and is investing in large solar projects. It will be interesting to see what happens at COP28 next year, especially as the UAE was the country with the highest number of fossil fuel lobbyists in its delegation at COP27.
Missed out on key details from the 1st week of COP27 as well? Explore our week 1 catch up here!