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The COP27 climate conference formally took place between 7th – 20th November 2022 and was held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.
With 33,449 delegates present, it was the second most attended COP and it concluded more than 39 hours after the scheduled close as parties were called for a plenary session to finalise the overall agreement of the summit.
This year’s attendees gathered to discuss a series of crises: energy, cost of living, debt, nature loss and geopolitical tensions. However, the need to act against the climate crisis has never been clearer.
Although some progress was made, public consensus is that inadequate advancements were made toward the climate goals agreed at COP26 and the key outcomes of COP27 seemed to treat the symptoms of climate change rather than address the causes.
The key outcomes were as follows:
Funding climate loss and damages – a historic breakthrough
One of the key milestones achieved was recognition and compensation of the loss and damage that climate change has inflicted on developing countries, a promise that was a decade overdue. Calls for this fund dominated the negotiations over the two-week summit and contributed to its delayed conclusion.
By the end of the conference, a decision had been made to establish a fund with funding arrangements to be discussed at next year’s conference. The fund will help developing countries bear the immediate costs of climate-fuelled events such as storms and floods.
According to Anna Aberg, Research Associate at Chatham House, “COP27 will go down in history as the UN climate change conference where the Loss and Damage fund was agreed.”
Global temperature rise – glacial pace
While the final agreement acknowledged “the urgent need for deep, rapid and sustained reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions,” no new targets or commitments were made toward phasing out fossil fuels which threaten the goal established in the Paris Agreement seven years ago, of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C.
This is concerning as ‘The Emissions Gap Report 2022’, which shortly preceded COP27, suggested that without rapid societal transformation, a reliable pathway to the 1.5°C limit does not exist and we can expect more severe weather with each marginal increase in temperature.
Mitigation ambition – insufficient progress
Mitigation ambition refers to actions that reduce or prevent greenhouse gas emissions. The parties agreed to rapidly scaling up clean power generation and energy efficiency measures, including “accelerating efforts towards the phasedown of unabated coal power and phase-out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies.”
Climate adaptation measures – a repeated promise
Increasing the ability to adapt, build resilience and reduce vulnerability by all in response to climate change was initially vowed in the Paris Agreement. Doubling financial support to facilitate this for developing countries was agreed at COP26. This year’s plan urges developed country parties to “urgently and significantly scale up their provision of climate finance, technology transfer and capacity-building for adaptation.”
As with every conference, financial concerns shaped the decisions made. They highlighted that around “USD 4 trillion per year needs to be invested in renewable energy up until 2030 to be able to reach net zero emissions by 2050” and funding this amount would require “transformation of the financial system and its structures and processes.”
Aside from the historic breakthrough of compensating loss and damage to developing countries, few other transformative pledges were made this year. However, countries did not go back on previous promises either. The summit highlights that urgent action is required if we are to keep the 1.5°C Paris Agreement within reach.