COP27 has drawn to a close. Whilst an eleventh-hour agreement to help developing nations overcome the impact of climate change was achieved, there is still much work to be done. We unpack the biggest takeaways and implications coming out of the conference.
The UN’s 27th annual climate summit drew to a close this weekend. Held in held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, the gathering saw leaders and representatives of more than 190 member states convene to discuss policy and initiatives related to the ongoing climate crisis. For much of the first week, the focus was on forging effective international partnerships and providing a platform for developing nations to be heard.
Despite this progress, an undercurrent of contention and simmering debate threatened to draw the COP27 event to a screeching halt, had it boiled over. Specifically, there were concerns around two topics that were dividing members and could not be agreed upon in the lead up to COP27, with no apparent resolution in sight.
Loss And Damage Fund Finally Passed
The fact that it had finally made it on to the official agenda for COP27 was seen as a huge victory.
Firstly, the contentious ‘loss and damage’ fund, an agreement to provide fiscal aide to developing nations impacted by climate change, had faced scrutiny and criticism from the United States and several European countries. After decades of pushback, the fact that it had finally made it on to the official agenda for COP27 was seen by supporters as a huge victory. Following days of intense negotiation, a deal was struck to ensure the establishment of the fund. The breakthrough is a milestone moment for climate justice with its passing seen as a major achievement for the international alliance of more than 130 countries who helped lobby to get it over the line.
Details of the agreement are the still being finalised between the UN and member states, Pacific Island nations are already rightfully celebrating the huge win, as their countries have faced some of the greatest damage due to the impact of climate change. All eyes are now on COP28, including those of climate activists, who are remaining steadfast in their resolve to see change enacted sooner than later. It is believed that funds would initially be drawn from contributions made my developed countries, who were some of the most notably holdouts of the agreement, along with other international financial institutions and private sources.
The 1.5 Degrees Global Warming Limit Is Still In Jeopardy
The goal of keeping global warming under 1.5 degrees Celsius remains achievable, but only if countries stay the course and work to reduce emissions. In a step forward, policy makers unveiled an official agreement to maintain the 1.5 degree goal. Unfortunately, the decision appears to also include one step back, as there was no progress on the COP26 commitment to phase-down coal usage. Without consensus and majority support to further transition away from fossil fuels, the new agreement delivers less than was expected, a fact not lost on climate activists and concerned environmental experts. Without additional action and buy in from the world’s biggest polluters, scientists are on the fence as to if we will even make the mark, or sail right past the 1.5 degree limit.
Scientists are on the fence as to if we will even make the mark, or sail right past the 1.5 degree limit.
Among the scientific community, there is little doubt that an increase of global temperatures above 1.5 C would significantly alter the climate and devastate our ecosystems. So why then are policy makers baulking on moving forward? Why has the last year seen little progress on reducing global emissions and meeting targets? For now, a major factor could be attributed to the growing energy crisis. Beyond that, hastening the transition to renewables and greener sources of energy should remain the focus, to alleviate both the short-term crisis and our longer-term play of keeping our planet habitable for generations to come. ∎