Climate: The good points of the COP27 for vulnerable nations

Countries at the latest UN Climate Change Conference, COP27, reached an agreement on an outcome that established a funding mechanism to compensate vulnerable nations for “loss and damage” from climate-induced disasters after days of intense negotiations that lasted into early Sunday morning in Sharm el-Sheikh.

Countries at the latest UN Climate Change Conference, COP27, reached an agreement on an outcome that established a funding mechanism to compensate vulnerable nations for “loss and damage” from climate-induced disasters after days of intense negotiations that lasted into early Sunday morning in Sharm el-Sheikh.

“This COP has made a significant step toward justice.” “I welcome the decision to establish and operationalize a loss and damage fund in the coming period,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in a video message from the conference venue in Egypt, emphasizing the importance of hearing the voices of those on the frontlines of the climate crisis.

The UN Secretary-General was alluding to what turned out to be the most contentious subject at this COP, which stands for the annual Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Developing nations made strong and repeated calls to create a loss and damage fund to compensate countries that are the most vulnerable to climate disasters while contributing little to the issue.

“Clearly, this will not be enough,” he said, “but it is a much-needed political signal to repair lost trust,” emphasising that the UN system will be there to help every step of the way. 

Before voting on the documents, COP27 President Sameh Shoukry, also Egypt’s Foreign Minister, reminded delegates that the draft resolutions were “a gateway that would scale up implementation and enable us to change to a future of climate future neutrality and climate-resilient development.”

“I urge all of you to see these draft decisions as a collective statement to the world that we have listened to the call of our leaders and current and future generations to establish the correct pace and direction for the implementation of the Paris Agreement and accomplishment of its goals.”

Negotiators were finally able to reach conclusions on the most difficult items on the agenda, including a loss and damage facility – with a commitment to set up a financial support structure for the most vulnerable by the next COP in 2023 – as well as the post-2025 finance goal, and the so-called mitigation work programme, which would reduce emissions faster, catalyze impactful action, and secure assurances from key countries that

However, while agreement on these concerns was viewed as a positive step forward, there appeared to be little progress on other crucial issues, including the phase-out of fossil fuels and stricter language on the need to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Observers have warned that new language that includes “low emissions” energy alongside renewables as future energy sources is a significant loophole, as the undefined term could be used to justify new fossil fuel development in contravention of the clear guidance of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The fight against climate change is ongoing.

Photo: Kiara Worth/UN

Mr. Guterres reminded the world of the world’s goals in climate action, including the ambition to decrease global greenhouse gas emissions while maintaining the Paris Agreement’s 1.5 degree Celsius limit and pulling humanity “back from the climate precipice.”

“We need to severely decrease emissions immediately – and this is an issue that this COP did not address,” he bemoaned, adding that the world still has to take a great leap forward in terms of climate ambition, as well as stop its addiction to fossil fuels by investing “massively” in renewables.

The UN Secretary-General also stressed the importance of fulfilling the long-delayed commitment of $100 billion per year in climate money for developing countries, as well as providing clarity and a credible plan to double adaptation monies.

He also emphasized the significance of reforming multilateral development banks’ and international financial institutions’ business models.

“They must embrace greater risk and systematically leverage private funding at acceptable rates for developing nations,” he added.

Our planet is still in the hospital.

While a fund for loss and damage is necessary, the UN head stated that it will not be enough if the climate disaster wipes out a small island state or transforms an entire African country into a desert.

He underlined his appeal for just energy transition partnerships to hasten the transition away from coal and toward renewables, as well as the call he made in his opening remarks at COP27 for a climate solidarity agreement.

“A Pact in which all nations commit to making further efforts to decrease emissions this decade in order to meet the 1.5-degree target.” And a Pact to mobilize financial and technical support for large emerging economies to accelerate their renewable energy transition, in collaboration with international financial institutions and the private sector,” he added, emphasizing how important this is in order to stay within the 1.5-degree limit.

‘I share your frustration’

The UN Secretary-General also issued a message to the conference’s vociferous civil society and campaigners, saying, “I feel your dissatisfaction.”

Mr. Guterres stated that climate activists, headed by the moral voice of young people, have kept the agenda going even in the darkest of times and that they must be safeguarded.

“People power is the most essential energy source on the planet.” That is why understanding the human rights component of climate action is critical,” he said, adding that the war ahead would be difficult and that “it will take each and every one of us fighting in the trenches every day…we can’t wait for a miracle.”

Dignitaries at the conference. Photo: cba.ca

Kenyan environmental youth campaigner Elizabeth Wathuti echoed this view, saying, “COP27 may be done, but the struggle for a safe future is not.” At the next Global Biodiversity Summit in Montreal, political leaders must fight harder than ever to reach a solid global agreement to conserve and restore nature.

“The interwoven food, environment, and climate catastrophe is right now hurting us all,” Ms. Wathuti said, “but frontline villages like mine are worst struck.” “How many warning bells do we need to sound before we act?”

The clock is ticking.

Mr. Guterres emphasized in his video message that COP27 finished with “much homework” left to be done and little time to accomplish it.

“We’ve already reached the midway point between the [2015] Paris Climate Agreement and the 2030 target.” “We need everyone on board to pursue justice and ambition,” he said.

The Secretary-General went on to say that this includes a desire to put an end to the “suicidal war” on environment, which is contributing to the climate catastrophe, pushing species to extinction, and destroying ecosystems.

“The UN Biodiversity Conference next month is the perfect opportunity to embrace an ambitious global biodiversity framework for the next decade, building on the power of nature-based solutions and the crucial role of indigenous communities,” he suggested.

What was accomplished?

The 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Paris Agreement, was held from 6 to 20 November 2022 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. Photo: UN.org

“At COP27… we’ve determined a path forward on a decade-long dialogue on funding for loss and damage,” UNFCC Executive Secretary Simon Stiell said in his closing comments. Among other good moves, he stated that “we have been given reassurances that there is no opportunity for backsliding” in the document accepted Sunday morning. It sends vital political signals indicating that all fossil fuels are being phased out.”

The COP27 discussions had not been simple. “…It hasn’t been easy. “However, this historic outcome moves us forward and benefits vulnerable people all over the world,” he said.

With that in mind, he stated, “There is no point in putting ourselves through all of this if we are going to participate in an exercise of collective amnesia the moment the cameras move on,” and urged all Parties and delegations to hold each other accountable for the decisions that had just been made.

Mr. Stiell went on to say that he would personally lead the push for Nationally Determined Contributions, or NDCs, which are at the heart of the Paris Agreement and represent each country’s efforts to decrease national emissions and adapt to the effects of climate change.

He went on to remark that civil society should be credited for bringing the world community to this historic turning point in the fight against climate change.

“We would not have gone this far without the voices of individuals, whether they be activists, scientists, researchers, youth, or indigenous peoples…

Your opinions have a direct influence on how we go forward at the global level.”

Over 35,000 individuals attended COP27, including government representatives, observers, and civil society.

Among the meeting’s highlights was the release of the inaugural report of the High-Level Expert Group on Non-State Entities’ Net-Zero Emissions Commitments.

The report slammed greenwashing, which is the practice of misleading the public into believing that a company or entity is doing more to protect the environment than it actually is, as well as weak net-zero pledges, and provided a roadmap to bring integrity to net-zero commitments by industry, financial institutions, cities, and regions, as well as to support a global, equitable transition to a sustainable future.

During the Conference, the UN also launched the Executive Action Plan for the Early Warnings for All program, which asks for $ 3.1 billion in additional targeted expenditures between 2023 and 2027, or 50 cents per person per year.

Meanwhile, with the cooperation of the UN Secretary-General, former US Vice-President and climate campaigner Al Gore released the Climate TRACE Coalition’s new independent inventory of greenhouse gas emissions.

The application uses satellite data and artificial intelligence to display facility-level emissions from over 70,000 sites worldwide, including firms in China, the United States, and India. This will enable leaders to pinpoint the location and breadth of carbon and methane emissions into the environment.

Another feature of the conference was the Egyptian Presidency’s presentation of a so-called master plan to expedite the decarbonization of five important sectors – electricity, road transport, steel, hydrogen, and agriculture.

The Egyptian leadership also announced the creation of the FAST project, which aims to increase the amount and quality of climate financing contributions to change agriculture and food systems by 2030.

About the author

Olivier Noudjalbaye Dedingar

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