Nov 24, 2022
COP27 has ended last thursday. Here are its key takeaways.
First and foremost, what is the COP?
After two weeks of discussions, COP27 in Egypt finally ended on Saturday, November 19. The final agreement of this United Nations Climate Conference has not yet been made public, yet a draft is currently available. Negotiators have been actively engaged in producing impactful results. The final outcome, however, remains mixed. Some positive developments raise hopes, yet a lot of actions still need to be taken.
If you wish to know more about what happened in the first week of COP27, have a look at the highlights we've summerized in our last blog post.
The 2015 Paris Agreement called for limiting global warming to no more than 1.5°C above the pre-industrial era by the end of this century. The Sharm-El-Sheikh Implementation Plan draft declares that nations reiterate that the impacts of climate change will be much lower at the temperature increase of 1.5 °C compared with 2 °C, and resolve to pursue further efforts to limit global warming to 1.5 °C, staying in line with the 2021 Glasgow commitments.
Paradoxically, a growing number of experts consider this goal unattainable and unrealistic. According to UN projections, the planet will warm up by as much as 2.6°C to 2.8°C by the end of the century, taking into account current climate plans, pledges and actions.
Hence, on the one hand, the declaration made through this project gives hope that nations will not overlook or neglect this crucial goal. Yet, on the other hand, actions are still insufficient to achieve it, which highlights the considerable gap between rhetoric and action, as decried by many climate activists.
The least developed or island countries, severely impacted by climate change, are demanding financial transfers for what they describe as the "climate debt" of wealthy countries (those that pollute the most and therefore contribute the most to climate change). However, the most vulnerable countries have so far come up against a refusal front, which has greatly strained negotiations on the terms of the "Loss and Damage" agreement.
A global "loss and damage" fund, which aims to provide financial assistance to vulnerable nations struck by a climate disaster, was nevertheless finally approved and came into existence on November 20, joining a handful of countries that had already pledged funds for loss and damage during the first week of COP27.
In spite of ample evidence from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, there has never been a formal agreement at climate negotiations for the world to reduce its consumption of fossil fuels. The most significant step in this direction was taken last year at the conference in Glasgow, which reached a painful consensus to "phase down" (instead of originally intended "phasing out") coal use. However, progress on this issue remained unchanged this year, and the resolution remained the same as that agreed at COP26.
Some countries committed to doubling the $100 bn a year that wealthy nations pledged in Glasgow for adaptation (to build flood defenses, protect wetlands, regenerate forests, and restore mangrove swamps for helping countries become more resilient to the effects of climate change), wanted to resign from that promise during COP27. It took considerable effort to convince them not to. As a result, the pledges remained the same. Nevertheless, promises still remain unfulfilled, as only roughly 20% of the $100 bn are collected.
The UN Environment Programme makes it clear that the loss of biodiversity is already significantly affecting regional and global changes in climate. While natural ecosystems play an important role in regulating climate and can help to sequester and store carbon, the loss of forests, the draining of wetlands and other environmental degradation has contributed significantly to climate change.
In this regard, the Egyptian COP27 Presidency, Germany and the IUCN announced the launch of the ENACT initiative, which will coordinate global efforts to address climate change, land and ecosystem degradation, and biodiversity loss through Nature-based Solutions (NbS). The initiative will also generate an annual report on the status of nature-based solutions to inform COP28 and subsequent meetings on progress in implementing the NbS commitments (IUCN, 2022).
In response to the growing need for energy, particularly in developing countries, and the need to switch to cleaner energy sources, the COP27 Egyptian Presidency launched the African Just and Affordable Energy Transition Initiative (AJAETI). Its three main objectives are to provide technical and policy support to facilitate access to affordable energy for at least 300 million people in Africa by 2027, as well as to provide access to clean fuels and cooking technologies and to increase the share of renewable electricity generation by 25% (Climate Champions, 2022b).
In addition, the launch of the Global Renewable Energy Alliance reinforced the energy theme during this second week. Organizations representing the wind, solar, hydro, green hydrogen, long-term energy storage and geothermal industries will officially join forces in this alliance. This is the first time that an alliance brings together the technologies needed to ensure an accelerated energy transition. In addition to ensuring that the goals are met, the alliance also aims to position renewable energies as a pillar of sustainable development and economic growth worldwide (Climate Champions, 2022b).
There is growing evidence that global warming is having a much more severe impact on women than on men, yet women are still being left out of the leadership and benefits of climate change adaptation. Ignoring the importance of women in addressing climate change could gravely undermine the progress needed to combat climate change.
“It’s no longer about greenhouse gasses, it’s about the world we are leaving for our children,” said Ko Barrett, vice chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. “Women play an incredible role in bringing that perspective to the conversation.”
Furthermore, climate breakdown and environmental degradation are increasing violence against women and girls according to a tremendous and comprehensive study by International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Yet, besides relevant speeches and talks on women and girls' significance in the climate crisis on the occasion of Gender and Water day, no particular announcements of action plans have been made to tackle this matter.
The COP27 presidency launched on the occasion of Gender and Water Day the Action on Water Adaptation and Resilience Initiative (AWARe) to put push for water and adaptation investments for the most vulnerable communities and ecosystems in Africa. This initiative is planned to catalyze inclusive cooperation to address water as a key to climate change adaptation and resilience including partnerships for early warning systems and early action. It will actively work on decreasing water loss, propose and implement policy methods for adaptation and promote cooperation.
Some 40% of the world’s population is affected by water scarcity; 80% of wastewater is discharged untreated into the environment, and more than 90% of disasters are water-related, as the UN Secretary-General noted earlier this year.
The programme's vision is therefore to build inclusive cooperation for water adaptation by supporting water, ecosystem and land management, water storage, disaster risk reduction, food security, sustainable energy transition and other related sectors by 2030.
COP27 EU parties published the "EU Green Deal: from local to global" declaration, where local and regional authorities declared, among others, their readiness to report progress to the Race to Zero and Race to Resilience, foster subnational cooperation towards a holistic approach to climate action as well as create a GLocal Green Deal (building upon the EU Green Deal approach), leading up to the COP28 roadmap.
Following the somewhat mixed outcome of COP27 which is perceived positive for some and insufficient for others, we must ask ourselves whether climate conservation will in fact mostly come from the private sector. Indeed, the emergence of green business models, increasing measures taken by companies of all sizes and consumer demands for more environmentally friendly products are changing the business landscape for the better.
As corporations, it is now essential to tackle emissions not only for ethical reasons, but also to remain competitive and innovative. As a climate tech company with clear insights into emissions management, we are confident that businesses, and particularly manufacturers, have the potential to fill the gap in meeting climate needs missed at COP27.
Climate Champions (a) (2022, November 14). COP27: Day 7: Water & Gender. Access: https://climatechampions.unfccc.int/cop27-day-7-water-gender/
Climate Champions (b) (2022, November 15). COP27 Day8: Energy. Access: https://climatechampions.unfccc.int/cop27-day8-energy/
European Committee of the Regions (2022). Declaration " EU Green Deal: from local to global". Access: https://cor.europa.eu/en/engage/Documents/Glocal%20Declaration%20towards%20COP28.pdfhttps://cor.europa.eu/en/engage/Documents/Glocal%20Declaration%20towards%20COP28.pdf
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Germanwatch (2022, November 20). Mit großer Mühe: Weltgemeinschaft rettet wesentliche Elemente für globalen Klimaschutz. Germanwatch. Pressemitteilung. Access:https://www.germanwatch.org/de/87658
Harvey, F. (2020, January 29). Climate breakdown 'is increasing violence against women'. The Guardian. Access: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jan/29/climate-breakdown-is-increasing-violence-against-women
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IUCN (2022, November 16). Egyptian COP27 Presidency, Germany and IUCN announce ENACT Initiative for Nature-based Solutions. Access: https://www.iucn.org/press-release/202211/egyptian-cop27-presidency-germany-and-iucn-announce-enact-initiative-nature
Morton, A (2022, November 17). Getting rid of fossil fuels at a climate summit is harder than you’d think, COP27. The Guardian. Access: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/nov/17/getting-rid-fossil-fuels-at-a-climate-summit-is-harder-than-you-think-cop27-egypt
Okai, A. (2022, March 24). Women are hit hardest in disasters, so why are responses too often gender-blind? UNDP. Access: https://www.undp.org/blog/women-are-hit-hardest-disasters-so-why-are-responses-too-often-gender-blind
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United Nations (2022, November 20). Sharm el-Sheikh Implementation Plan. Revised draft decision -/CP.27. Climate Change. Access: https://unfccc.int/documents/621914