COP 27 was each higher and worse than anticipated, say Prof. Felix Dodds and Chris Spence
– It’s lastly over. After the anticipation and build-up to COP27, the largest local weather assembly of the yr is now in our rear-view mirror. The crowds of delegates that thronged the Sharm el-Sheikh worldwide conference heart for 2 lengthy weeks have all headed house to get better. Many will likely be fatigued from lengthy hours and sleepless nights as negotiators tried to seal a deal that will transfer the world forwards. Did all this difficult work repay? In our opinion, COP 27 was each higher and worse than we’d hoped.
Failing to Observe the Science
First, the dangerous information. COP 27 didn’t ship what the science tells us was wanted. With the window of alternative closing quick on our objective of limiting world temperature rise to 1.5C or much less, COP 27 did far too little on the all-important problem of mitigation—that’s, reducing emissions.
The case for pressing motion retains getting stronger. The newest reviews from the Intergovernmental Panel on Local weather Change (IPCC) make for grim studying about what to anticipate if we let temperatures rise an excessive amount of. These days, although, we simply must learn the newspapers to catch a glimpse of the long run.
The pinnacle of the important thing negotiating Group of 77 – 134 growing nations – was Pakistan which has been coping with the worst floods in its historical past, leaving 1717 folks useless and dealing an estimated $US40 billion in harm. In 2022 within the USA, there have been 15 climate-related disasters which every exceeded $1 billion in prices.
In the meantime, in Africa, in response to Carbon Temporary’s evaluation of catastrophe data, “excessive climate occasions have killed at the very least 4,000 folks and affected an additional 19 million for the reason that begin of 2022.”
Since this COP was billed by some because the “Africa COP”, one might count on a robust response to such information.
The stress was subsequently on at COP 27 to answer such disasters. Attending COP27 have been 112 world leaders and over 300 authorities ministers: not as many as at COP 26, however nonetheless quantity. One thing like 27,000 folks from governments, intergovernmental, stakeholders, and journalists additionally attended the COP. This was to the backdrop of the UN Secretary Basic warning us that we would have liked to “cooperate or perish,” to take pressing motion to take us off “a freeway to local weather hell”.
Messing up on mitigation: And but progress on mitigation was modest, at finest. Whereas some delegations pushed laborious for stronger commitments on reducing emissions, the urge for food in some quarters simply didn’t appear to be there. After being pressured to do extra in Paris and Glasgow, China, India, and a number of the oil-producing nations appeared reluctant to take rather more in Sharm el-Sheikh.
They really feel developed nations, that are traditionally chargeable for the majority of emissions, ought to be doing extra themselves, moderately than coercing others. The outcome was a negotiated consequence with little extra on the desk than we had in Glasgow. As an example, delegates couldn’t conform to ramp up their language on fossil fuels, a lot to many individuals’s disappointment.
Finance: Likewise, there was not an excessive amount of to report on the difficulty of local weather finance. The $US100 billion annual assist for growing nations initially promoted by Hilary Clinton on the 2009 Copenhagen COP and enshrined within the Paris COP in 2015 will likely be reviewed in 2024 with a brand new determine being hopefully agreed then for 2025 implementation.
The International South has been speaking of this new sum numbering within the trillions to assist adapt and mitigate towards local weather change. And but there have been few indicators of motion in direction of something of that magnitude.
On condition that the North has nonetheless not met its pledge of US$100 billion by 2020, it’s clear a number of motion is required within the subsequent couple of years. But information from outdoors the convention, such because the US Home of Representatives now having a Republican majority, doesn’t bode nicely.
For a gathering billed because the “implementation COP” the place local weather motion was taken to a different degree, the information on mitigation and finance was subsequently disappointing.
Simply previous to the beginning of COP27 the lead negotiator for Egypt Mohamed Nasr underscored: “science reviews have been telling us that sure, planning is lower than expectations, however it was implementation on the bottom that was actually lagging behind.”
Exceeding Expectations—the Loss and Injury Fund
There have been some shiny spots, nevertheless.
Maybe most shocking was the settlement to create a ‘Loss and Injury’ fund to assist essentially the most weak nations. This has been a key problem for nearly 30 years, notably for small island growing nations.
In Glasgow this regarded impossible to be resolved within the Sharm COP, however with a late change of coronary heart by the Europeans and ultimately by the USA and others within the OECD, that is maybe essentially the most important and shocking consequence from COP 27. Whilst not too long ago as October, the indicators have been that OECD nations weren’t on board with requires a brand new fund. Nevertheless, at COP 27 the “trickle” of earlier motion on this space changed into a flood.
Curiously, it was Scotland at COP 26 that began issues off, with a modest, voluntary contribution. Extra not too long ago, Denmark, Austria, New Zealand and Belgium had additionally monetary commitments to loss and harm, now amounting to $US244.5 million. Mia Mottley Barbados’ Prime Minister has referred to as for a ten% windfall tax on oil corporations to fund loss and harm attributable to local weather change, which might increase round $US31 billion if it had been launched for 2022. Nonetheless, the indicators a fund can be agreed at COP 27 had not been good.
This makes the ultimate consequence all of the extra welcome. The thought, the door is now open for essentially the most weak nations to obtain extra assist. A objective has now been set to completely operationalize the fund at COP 28 in a yr’s time. For essentially the most weak nations, this can not come shortly sufficient.
International Purpose on Adaptation: One other optimistic growth, albeit on a extra modest scale, was within the space of the ‘International Purpose on Adaptation’. Right here, delegates agreed to “provoke the event of a framework” to be out there for adoption subsequent yr.
A number of work will have to be finished on the intersessional assembly of the UN Local weather Conference’s subsidiary our bodies in Bonn in June subsequent yr to organize for this, together with tips on how to measure progress in direction of this Purpose. An method much like the event of the Sustainable Improvement Targets in 2015 could be acceptable, maybe?
Article 6: One other of the Glasgow breakthroughs was that on Article 6 of the Paris Settlement on carbon markets and worldwide cooperation. COP 27 noticed some strong work undertaken on tips on how to operationalize this each in market and non-market approaches.
There are nonetheless a number of sceptics on it will have a real influence and the way to make sure not double counting and even that any offsets are actual. An method that’s extra ecosystem-based than simply timber is gaining momentum. Such a change, if it occurs, additionally gives an actual likelihood to hyperlink the 2 main UN conventions on local weather and biodiversity.
Agriculture: The work on the Koronivia Work Programme on Agriculture went all the way down to the wire. The end result was a four-year open-ended working group reporting at COP31 (2026). Some controversy on the time period ‘meals techniques’ may even see its first workshop tackle this problem.
It’s going to additionally take a look at how we are able to higher combine the programme’s work into different constituted our bodies such because the monetary mechanisms of the conference. The Inexperienced Local weather Fund has given solely $US1.1 billion for adaptation on agriculture. It says one of many main causes for that is the:
“Lack of built-in agricultural growth planning and capacities that take into account maladaptation dangers and funding wants throughout the agricultural sector, local weather data providers and provide chains.”
Whereas these outcomes on agriculture, adaptation and Article 6 could seem modest, they need to be welcomed as steps in the suitable route.
Coalitions of the Prepared: One of many outcomes from the Glasgow COP was the launch of ‘Coalitions of the Prepared’; teams of nations and stakeholders wanting to maneuver faster on a problem than they could beneath the official UN negotiations, that are consensus-driven and contain greater than 190 nations. In Sharm el-Sheikh we noticed quite a lot of nations be a part of the Methane Pledge, together with Australia and Egypt. China joined the assembly on the Pledge and dedicated to its personal nationwide methane technique.
In Glasgow, 137 nations had taken a landmark step ahead by committing to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030. With the approaching return to management in Brazil of President-elect Lula da Silva, there’s renewed hope that actual motion on the Amazon forests is feasible once more. Lula dedicated Brazil to reaching zero deforestation and was hailed as a hero by many when he turned up at COP 27 in the course of the second week.
In the meantime, the Glasgow Monetary Alliance for Web Zero (GFANZ)—the worldwide coalition of main monetary establishments—dedicated to accelerating the decarbonization of the economic system. GFANZ, which incorporates over 550 of the world’s main monetary establishments, has dedicated to scale back their financed emissions according to 1.5 levels C.
With $US150 trillion of mixed steadiness sheets, the accountability mechanism introduced of a brand new Web-Zero Knowledge Public Utility is but to show whether it is efficient in holding the finance sector to their commitments. Nevertheless, if it may ship on its potential, this might be a sport changer.
There was loads extra exercise at COP 27 the place the outcomes are more durable to measure. Most individuals at these giant UN local weather summits usually are not negotiators and COP 27 was filled with “facet occasions” and authorities and stakeholder pavilions every with its personal set of occasions and agendas.
Nation pavilions supplied a venue to speak about their challenges, problem pavilions on oceans, meals, water, well being, schooling, and resilience highlighted their points and the way they match into the local weather agenda. These allow crucial points to be mentioned in a extra open means than might be undertaken in negotiations.
Concepts have been shared, connections made, and partnerships for additional motion shared. The upshot of all of this exercise is difficult to measure, however in all probability appreciable. The thematic days organized by the Egyptian Presidency additionally gave area to those points and helped deliver collectively concepts which will finally discover their means into future UN selections. On this respect, too, the standard of the facet occasions and pavilions at COP 27 exceeded our expectations.
On to Dubai and COP28
Was COP27 successful or failure? In terms of maintaining with the science, the reply can hardly be optimistic. The decision to “preserve 1.5 alive” hangs within the steadiness and remains to be on “life assist”. In that sense, COP 27 had little or no influence on our present trajectory, which is a probable warming of two.4-2.8 C by the top of the century.
Then again, the promise of a loss and harm fund, in addition to modest successes on adaptation, Article 6, agriculture, and actions outdoors the official negotiations, imply COP 27 delivered some shiny spots of success.
Looking forward to subsequent yr, COP 28 will likely be vital because it marks the primary “world stocktake” to guage the place issues now stand. We hope it will focus world leaders to extend their pledges (or “nationally decided contributions”) considerably. It will likely be attention-grabbing to see how the United Arab Emirates, as COP 28 host, performs. As a significant oil producer, it faces some severe challenges in transitioning to a internet zero world.
At COP 27, there have been rumours the UAE was ramping up its workforce and bringing in further exterior experience forward of subsequent yr. That is definitely signal if COP 28 is to ship the sort of groundbreaking outcomes the science now calls for.
Felix Dodds and Chris Spence are co-editors of the brand new ebook, Heroes of Environmental Diplomacy: Profiles in Braveness (Routledge Press, 2022). It contains chapters on the local weather negotiations held in Kyoto (1997), Copenhagen (2009) and Paris (2015).