KEY HIGHLIGHTS FROM COP27

Establishing a ‘loss and damage’ fund for countries that have elevated risks and vulnerabilities relating to climate change.

The fund is considered a historical breakthrough because, for the first time, countries who actively contributed to global emissions after the industrial revolution have finally agreed to take responsibility for the current and upcoming catastrophic effects on developing countries in climate-vulnerable regions.

Although this is a reason to celebrate, there is still very much a “blame game” going on, with exactly who will pay for this fund left uncertain.

The 1.5 degree pledge was reaffirmed

While the world is currently headed for a projected 2.5 degree increase by 2050, during COP27, figures from private and public sectors reaffirmed their goals to stay well below 1.5 degrees.

Many have called into question the validity of their statements, pledges and promises, particularly from the private sector. The term “green washing” was brought up several times throughout the duration of the COP side events. The Bloomberg side event saw women like Kate Brandt, Chief Sustainability Officer of Googlic Inc., and Damilola Ogunbiyi, CEO of Sustainable Energy for All, call out the sub-par efforts from corporations and governments, with Ogunbiyi claiming that Nigeria’s pledge to stick to the guidelines layed out in the Paris Agreement would require extraordinary aid from western countries, leaving it, simply, unattainable.

Holding governments, businesses, institutions, and organizations to account

During the UN Climate Change Executive Secretary, Simon Steill’s opening speech in the first hours of the start of the COP negotiations, he promised a new focus of accountability, saying: “There is absolutely no point putting ourselves through all that we’ve just gone through if we’re going to participate in an exercise of collective amnesia the moment the cameras move on.”

Transparency is the key word with this aspect of the annual event, with Antonio Gutuerres calling for a zero-tolerance policy for greenwashing, stating: “Net zero commitments can’t be a mere public relations exercise if we want to win the fight against climate change” in a tweet.

Although the UN promises transparency to be a main focus for 2023, how will this exactly be enforced? For now, the UN have set up a public platform called the Global Climate Action Portal that is being used to register public transition plans, register pledges, and track annual reporting on implementation. 

Mobilizing more financial support for developing countries

This was a very polarizing topic at the 2022 COP throughout both the public and private sectors. While some argued that developed countries like the US wouldn’t be able to make the shift from brown energy to green while simultaneously aiding developing countries to make the shift, others argued that developing countries simply have no means of developing sustainably, and are dependent on this aid. With finance at the center of the world’s efforts to combat climate change (whether it be mitigation, adaptation, loss and damage, technology), the Sharm-El-Sheikh Implementation Plan layed out the necessary funds: the global transformation to a low-carbon economy is expected to require investments of at least four to six trillion US Dollars a year.

While COP27 forged a pathway to align finance flows towards low emissions and climate resilient development, delivering the cover decision will require a quick and efficient complete remodelling of the financial system.

Once again, the “Green Climate Fund” is called for action, with demands for developed countries to contribute towards the global transformation and efforts on settling a “new collective quantified goal on climate finance” in 2024.

Key outcomes included recent pledges of:

  • The Adaptation Fund, totalling USD 211.58 million
  • The Least Developed Countries Fund, totaling 70.6 million
  • The Special Climate Change Fund, totalling 35.0 million

With the goal of developed country Parties to jointly mobilize USD 100 billion per year by 2020 not being met, the UNFCC’s Standing Comitee on Finance will be expected to prepare a report on doubling adaptation finance for consideration at COP28 in 2023, as well as biennial progress report on the previous USD 100 bn goal starting in 2024.

Implementation

In Simon Stiell’s opening speech, he stated that “Paris gave us the agreement and Katowice and Glasgow gave us the plan, Sharm el-Sheikh shifts us to implementation.” With the goal of 1.5 degrees being insufficiently met, COP27 had a clear message: climate pledges are worth absolutely nothing, unless they are turned into concrete action.

The most notable progress in the direction of implementation was the acknowledgement of a very much needed ‘just transition’, with recognition of equitable and just development towards the transition. Ambitious goals are worthless if they are simply unattainable, especially when considering factors like geopolitical conflict and humanitarian crises in developing countries.

The Paris Agreement referred to the transition not being a set of rules but instead a complex, individualized and coherent effort for “ the imperatives of a just transition of the workforce and the creation of decent work and quality jobs in accordance with nationally defined development priorities.”

In regards to 2024 and how implementation will come into play for each and every person, Stiell finished by stating: “The heart of implementation is: Everybody, everywhere in the world, every single day, doing everything they possibly can to address the climate crisis.”

Allowing the voices of the youth to be heard

Conference of the Youth (GCOY) has been an ongoing event alongside the official conferences since 2012, with YOUNGO (International Youth Climate Movement) being the official voice of the youth in the climate negotiations and UNFCCC processes.

The key components of GCOY include:

  • Policy Document
  • Capacity Building
  • Skill-building workshops;and,
  • Cultural exchange

The aim of the event and the organization, is to give empowerment to the voices of the youth, and COP27 demonstrated support for the cause with the annual conference’s first-ever Children and Youth Pavilion.

The negotiations further prompted the advocacy of youths through article 93 claiming: “Recognizes the role of children and youth as agents of change in addressing and responding to climate change and encourages Parties to include children and youth in their processes.”


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