CLIMATE CHANGE SUMMIT in Egypt: What Must COP27 Deliver?

Compensation for loss and damage caused by climate change has developed into a major, pressing challenge for COP27. Developing countries in particular are looking for rapid progress

By Felix Dodds and Chris Spence at IPS: Preparations for COP27 in November are proceeding apace and we are now well past the halfway mark between the preparatory meetings in June in Bonn and the start of the summit in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. The agenda for Sharm El-Sheikh is complex and challenging. Furthermore, the meeting is taking place during a time of international turmoil. So, what are the factors influencing whether Sharm El-Sheikh can be a success? And what, exactly, does COP27 need to deliver?

Reasons for Optimism

Those looking for positive signs can name several. For a start, the recent passing of the Inflation Reduction Act in the US dedicated some $369 billion for climate and energy action—the largest investment in US history for tackling climate change.

This will give the market more confidence to invest in green technology, whether it is solar, wind, microgrids, carbon capture and hydrogen, to name a few. It also shows commitment from the world’s largest economy and second largest polluter.

Second, the major weather events of recent months—from heatwaves across Africa, Asia and Europe to the catastrophic floods in Pakistan of the past few days—are a tragic reminder, if any were still needed, of the urgency of the climate crisis and the need for COP27 to deliver some strong, tangible outcomes…

Dark Clouds Loom

Those are certainly reasons for hope. Yet the skeptics arguably have a stronger case. First, while the world’s climate crisis may have affirmed the need for urgency, the geopolitical and economic situation may be pushing in the opposite direction. The war in Ukraine has badly damaged relations between the West and Russia, while tensions over Taiwan have had a similar (if not so extreme) effect with China. These are hardly good conditions for building mutual trust and understanding—usually a prerequisite for a strong outcome in international negotiations.

One major side effect of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the West’s response, has been the energy crisis now engulfing Europe. There is also a predicted food crisis, not just from the war but also the impacts of climate change on harvests. Will this reinvigorate efforts at COP27 to find solutions or distract Western nations beset by inflation and a looming recession?…

Key Topics for COP27 to Tackle

So what does COP27 need to deliver? The main criterion should be whether it produces concrete climate action. COP27 has been pitched as the “implementation” COP, where the goals of the Paris Agreement, helped by the rulebook adopted in Glasgow, begin to be delivered. What should this implementation look like?

Nationally Determined Contributions: Keeping 1.5 Alive: Revisiting countries’ nationally determined contributions (NDCs)—essentially their pledges and plans—at COP27 is important. Many feel it is imperative to maintain the pressure to improve the many NDCs delivered in time for COP26. However, only a dozen or so countries have submitted new or revised NDCs since Glasgow…

Climate Finance: The commitment made in Copenhagen in 2009 for US$100 billion a year for climate finance by 2020 was not achieved. This is particularly disappointing since the $100 billion was intended as a floor not a ceiling. Furthermore, most of the funding that was delivered came in the form of loans, not grants, which recipients would usually prefer.

It is evident, therefore, that we are locked in the basement when it comes to climate funding, and that major progress is needed for us to climb out of the hole.

The reality is that we need trillions, not billions, to address climate change and that government aid will not be enough. Still, progress by government negotiators on a new collective quantified goal on climate finance is needed. While this goal is not supposed to be agreed until 2024, COP27 will need to show significant progress and demonstrate we are heading firmly in the right direction.

Outside the government negotiations, observers will also be looking for progress by other stakeholders. For instance, the launch in 2021 of the Glasgow Finance Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ) as a coalition of the willing will need to play a critical role.

GFANZ represents two-fifths of the world’s financial assets, $130 trillion, under the management of banks, insurers and pension funds that have signed up to 2050 net-zero goals including limiting global warming to 1.5oC. This includes targets for asset managers (halve emissions by 2030), asset owners (by 2030 net zero aligned portfolios covering emissions reductions), banks (net zero emissions from all activities and portfolios by 2050) and insurers (by 2030 net zero aligned investment, insurance and reinsurance underwriting portfolios).

The realignment of the market is critical to achieving our 1.5oC goal. The state of play with GFANZ and what transparency systems have been set up should be critically reviewed by NGOs and other stakeholders at COP27, with clear signs that these goals are real and not just empty promises…

Loss and Damage: Given the number of extreme climate events recently, a long-term issue for negotiators—compensation for loss and damage caused by climate change—has developed into a major, pressing challenge for COP27. While developing countries in particular are looking for rapid progress, the Glasgow Loss and Damage Dialogues in Bonn in June did not set a well-defined narrative.

Clear disagreement could be discerned around the use of existing funding arrangements to address the issue versus the creation of a new loss and damage financial facility, which many developing countries favor. Progress on this issue will be important at COP27.

Global Goal on Adaptation: The development of the objectives and modalities for this goal to support the implementation of the Paris Agreement was discussed in Bonn in June. While it is still early days in this discussion, COP27 should recognize the different levels of development countries are in and the challenges they face and how this might inform the Global Stocktaking process in future.

There was also a commitment in Glasgow to double adaptation funding by 2025. This should raise the amount to US$40 billion annually. Again, COP27 provides an opportunity to give some early signals this goal will be achieved. Read the full article here.

Honorary contributors to DesPardes: Adil Khan, Ajaz Ahmed, Ammar Jafri, Anwar Abbas, Arif Mirza, Aziz Ahmed, Bawar Tawfik, Dr. Razzak Ladha, Dr. Syed M. Ali, G. R. Baloch, Hasham Saddique, Jamil Usman, Jawed Ahmed, Ishaq Saqi, Khalid Sharif, Majid Ahmed, Masroor Ali, Md. Ahmed, Md. Najibullah, Mustafa Jivanjee, Nusrat Jamshed, Shahbaz Ali, Shahid Hamza, Shahid Nayeem, Syed Hamza Gilani, Mushtaq Siddiqui, Syed Hasan Javed, Syed M. Ali, Tahir Sohail