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COP27: Have we delivered for the people and planet?

Updated: Jul 21, 2023

A powerful message by the Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley from COP27:

“ We’re in the country that built pyramids, we know what it takes to find a vaccine within two years when a pandemic hits us and we know how to put a man on the moon- but the simple political will that is necessary, not just to come here and to make promises, but to deliver on them and to make a definable difference in the lives of the people who we have a responsibility to serve, seems still, not to be capable of being produced. I ask us how many more and how much more must happen?”

The world’s greatest climate conference- COP27- has recently ended, sealing a deal to tackle global climate justice and carbon inequalities. As countries leave the climate summit, forward progress was made for nations most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

From the desire to keep a 1.5°C future alive to the development of environmental mitigation strategies, this year’s conference was driven by two overriding themes: justice and ambition. This year’s conference highlighted that as climate action is moving from target-setting into the implementation phase, the need to build climate justice by enhancing resilience for billions of people living in the most climate vulnerable communities by 2030 is critical.

What is the importance of climate funding?

A historic breakthrough at COP27, after 30 years of delay and inaction, was established by parties to enable a Loss, Damage and Adaptation fund totalling more than USD 230 million. At the heart of these climate negotiations, indigenous leaders were present to advocate for human rights to issue this powerful call to action. This demonstrated their essential role in advancements in climate action, as these representatives shared their knowledge of appropriate and effective nature based solutions to strengthen climate actions at local level.

Adapting to the impacts of climate change can require everything from building sea walls to creating drought-resistant crops that could cost developing countries anywhere from £130 to £280 billion annually by 2030. This number could swell if climate change continues to accelerate, according to the 2022 Adaptation Gap Report.

Failure to deliver on major fossil fuel reductions

While many praised the development of this fund, there is great concern that countries failed to decisively reduce the use of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas. The decision to move away from huge polluting companies to a more renewable and cleaner energy will be significant in staying on target for the Paris Agreement and a below 1.5°C pathway.

Ultimately, the summit did not manage to address the largest polluting nations’ responsibility to demonstrate further detail and ambition within their key emission reduction proposals.

The frustratingly slow progress on the energy transition is a reflection on our continued global dependence on fossil fuel for growth, with private investment fearing loss from stranded assets to national government legislation and bureaucracy in the way of renewable permits and financing.

Nonetheless, several key agreements were made to further drive climate action this decade, but we are left facing a shrinking timeframe for delivery. Here are three agreements made at COP27:

1. Egypt announced a $500 million deal with Germany and the U.S. to reduce their consumption of fossil fuel gas and expand developments in renewable energy, in all three countries. Egypt has changed their climate target by June 2023 under this deal.

2. Indonesia announced a new $20 billion Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP) with major developed countries and private banks to reduce the use of coal electricity and expand renewable energy targets to meet the country’s needs. This partnership will allow Indonesia to enhance their climate target to 2030.

3. Brazil commits to have zero deforestation and degradation which could have significant impact on the 2030 global emission trajectory, given the size of Brazil’s deforestation emission impact. To protect the Amazon rainforest, this will be done by reversing current trends of forestry management and deforestation activities by strengthening enforcement, changing laws and illegal encroachment on indigenous land.

Are we moving one step forward and two steps back?

The European Union (EU) has signalled that it will enhance its 2030 target by changing the emission reduction target from 55 % to 57%. Only two countries presented new or updated national climate plans since the year before, at COP26. Clearly, more climate action is needed to meet the demands of the reduction roadmap set out at Glasgow. The roadmap for climate equity, implementation and ambition puts a spotlight on the critical need for major reforms including multilateral climate finance mobilisation and significant progress on energy transitions in key emitting countries.

As the President of Resources Defence Council (NRDC) and CEO Manish Bapna concluded: “No single climate meeting will solve the climate crisis overnight, but the window to stem the world’s climate impacts is closing quickly. The world must regroup and rekindle its momentum- and never look back.”


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