In the first days of this year’s UN climate summit, COP27, UN Chief Antonio Guterres spoke to world leaders gathered at the summit about the global population nearing the milestone of eight million, asking:
“How will we answer when “Baby 8 Billion” is old enough to ask: What did you do for our world – and for our planet – when you had the chance?”
A question that couldn’t be more timely.
At COP26 last year in Glasgow, the summit’s closing agreement, the Glasgow Pact, included a set of ambitious climate resolutions involving revisiting and strengthening climate plans, building climate resilience, curbing emissions, providing funding to developing countries, and limiting the rise in temperature to 1.5°C.
Yet ahead of this year’s summit, there were calls from the UN for more ambition as climate plans fell short of expectations.
After two weeks of talks, COP27 concluded today with the vital decision to establish a landmark loss and damage fund. However, many have expressed disappointment at the other outcomes from this year’s summit, with some saying this year’s COP is a failure.
A fund for loss and damage is essential – but it’s not an answer if the climate crisis washes a small island state off the map – or turns an entire African country to desert.
The world still needs a giant leap on climate ambition.
— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) November 20, 2022
Two of the topics that have dominated conversations and negotations around COP27 are the loss and damage fund and the “phase-down” and “phase-out” of fossil fuels.
As negotiations continued, the first draft of the new COP27 agreement (this year’s equivalent of the 2015 Paris Agreement, or last year’s Glasgow Pact) was published on Thursday. A breakdown of the first draft from the Guardian can be viewed here.
This first draft disappointed many due to its failure to mention the “phase-down” of all fossil fuels as well as lack of details on establishing a loss and damage fund. Many have also expressed concerns regarding the draft’s content and language across a range of different subject-areas.
New draft decision text out this morning at #COP27 ignores the science of 1.5°C.
🛢️ fails to mention oil, gas
❌ doesn’t end fossil fuel expansion
⛏️ phase down “unabated coal” still in but “unabated” is a loophole big enough to drive a drill rig through.
— Tzeporah Berman (@Tzeporah) November 17, 2022
“The cover text released this morning does not represent the call from both the negotiation rooms as well as the civil society for a just, equitable and managed phase-out of all fossil fuels. Anything less than what we achieved in Glasgow will see COP27 branded a failure by the world.”
There were also some calls for the draft text to be revised.
Young people came together at #COP27 for a Friday Climate Strike — joining the call to revise the draft COP Cover Text. ✊
We need to see the equitable phase-out of ALL fossil fuels, no false solutions, & commitments to Loss & Damage Finance included in the final text! pic.twitter.com/eSrZ3t5Upq
— 350 dot org (@350) November 18, 2022
“The COP27 presidency pushes the pedal to the metal on the highway to climate hell,” said Greenpeace’s COP27 representative, Yeb Saño.
“After initially failing to even mention fossil fuels, the draft text is an abdication of responsibility to capture the urgency expressed by many countries to see all oil and gas added to coal for at least a phase down. It is time to end the denial, the fossil fuel age must be brought to a rapid end,” said Saño.
Calling on negotiators at the summit to provide Pakistan with vital financial support to rebuild the country after it has been devastated by floods, Pakistan’s climate minister Sherry Rehman, warned: “The dystopia has already come to our doorstep.”
However, with only 24 hours to go until completion of the summit (initially intended to close on Friday), talks reached a deadlock on Thursday.
Chief Guterres (who had flown out for the G20 summit a few days earlier) even returned to the conference to call on leaders to act quickly and finalise negotiations.
“The time for talking on loss and damage finance is over,” Guterres said, adding: “We need action.”
This is no time for finger pointing.
The blame game is a recipe for mutually assured destruction.
— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) November 17, 2022
Loss and Damage fund
Early the next morning, on Friday, the EU put forward a proposal to agree on establishing a new loss and damage fund aimed at providing financial aid to developing countries to help them repair after facing climate-related disasters. Developed countries then considered the proposal.
“I have to say this is our final offer,” said European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans on release of the proposal on Friday.
As negotiations spilled over into overtime on Saturday, some EU ministers threatened a walkout from the summit due to worries over the deal being weakened.
“All ministers, as they have told me — like myself — are prepared to walk away if we do not have a result that does justice to what the world is waiting for,” warned Timmermans on Saturday. He told reporters that the EU is “worried about some of the things we have seen and heard” which could put the target of limiting temperature rise to 1.5°C at risk.
#COP27 is in overtime. The EU is united in our ambition to move forward and build on what we agreed in Glasgow. Our message to partners is clear: we cannot accept that 1.5C dies here and today.
— Frans Timmermans (@TimmermansEU) November 19, 2022
The final COP27 agreement
Originally due to finish on Friday, Nov. 18, the summit ended up being extended into the weekend, and the final COP27 agreement was released today.
After much uncertainty, debate, and negotiation, the landmark loss and damage fund was finally agreed upon and signed into the concluding COP27 agreement, though the definition of the finer details of the fund’s design is still ongoing.
Although the agreement revealed important progress in the form of the establishment of this vitally important and landmark loss and damage fund, it also still disappointed many with regard to the 1.5°C target and the phasing-out of fossil fuels.
In his speech at the closing of COP27, UN Chief António Guterres said:
“This COP has taken an important step towards justice. I welcome the decision to establish a loss and damage fund and to operationalize it in the coming period. Clearly this will not be enough, but it is a much-needed political signal to rebuild broken trust.”
But he went on to say:
“Our planet is still in the emergency room. We need to drastically reduce emissions now – and this is an issue this COP did not address. A fund for loss and damage is essential – but it’s not an answer if the climate crisis washes a small island state off the map – or turns an entire African country to desert. The world still needs a giant leap on climate ambition. The red line we must not cross is the line that takes our planet over the 1.5 degree temperature limit.”
Correction: This article (including the title and subtitle and subheadings) has been entirely reworked, refocused and shortened substantially (including content and overall message) to avoid any possible misunderstanding or unfair assumptions, generally, or in relation to individuals, organisations, industries, countries, or intergovernmental organisations.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by the authors are their own, not those of Impakter.com — In the Featured Photo: Protests at COP27 on Saturday November 19. Featured Photo Credit: UNClimateChange/Flickr