The UN climate change conference was another historic event on climate change and the steps world leaders and organizations are taking to address climate change. The recently concluded 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27) took place in the Egyptian coastal city of Sharm el-Sheikh with over 100 world leaders and roughly 35,000 delegates in attendance. Heralding several commitments, statements, and decisions that are expected to turn the tide against climate change in the coming year
“We need all hands on deck for faster, bolder climate action.” A window of opportunity remains open, but only a narrow shaft of light remains… We are getting dangerously close to the point of no return. The global climate fight will be won or lost in this crucial decade—on our watch. One thing is certain: those who give up are sure to lose. “So, let’s fight together—and let’s win.”
There were the words of United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, who spoke passionately about how critical this decade is in determining the future of our planet and our fight against climate change. Much of the COP27 decisions and commitments centre on emphasizing key policies that can have a long-term impact on our fight against climate change.
Recapping key details from the COP27 summit at Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.
Much like previous COP summits, this one saw the discussion and resolution of several significant issues. Here are some of the most notable takeaways from this year’s summit.
Climate Justice Fund.
A deal was finally reached at the COP27 summit to establish this fund to assist developing countries in handling damages brought on by floods, droughts, and storms that are significantly influenced by climate change. This fund had been the subject of extensive discussion among countries over the years, with resistance coming mainly from wealthier nations. A committee made up of representatives from 24 nations is mandated by the Sharm el-Sheikh Implementation Plan to make important decisions regarding which nations will be qualified to contribute to or receive from the proposed fund. Although they contribute little to the global warming problem, developing nations are typically the ones who suffer the most from climate-related calamities. Countries from Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, and the South Pacific lobbied to have this on the agenda of COP27 this year.
Phasing “down” fossil fuels and a renewed commitment to a 1.5 oC target
Fossil fuel firms and developed nations reaffirmed their commitment at the COP27 to cutting emissions and upholding the 1.5 degrees Celsius target. The delegation, which tried to arrange a deal to “phase down” fossil fuels with a focus on coal power, included about 636 representatives of fossil fuel companies. Asserting the use of fossil fuels well into the future, the agreement to gradually reduce rather than entirely phase out their usage was met with a lot of criticism and skepticism. Nevertheless, it is viewed as a positive step forward, particularly in the effort to keep global temperatures below 1.5 degrees Celsius, a fact that has led to an overall feeling of solidarity among governments.
Other noteworthy moments
Being two of the largest producers of greenhouse gases in the world, the US, and China’s decision to restore relations and collaborate to combat climate change together was a significant development. Another remarkable moment was the declaration that “Brazil is back” by the incoming Brazilian president, Lula da Silva, which emphasized Brazil’s intention to participate in the battle against climate change. President Lula da Silva has pledged to address the issue of the vast destruction of the Amazon rainforest, which was presided over by outgoing President Jair Bolsonaro.
The COP meeting this year is reiterating some agreements made at the summit last year, but there is a fresh push by governments and fossil fuel companies to keep global temperatures below 1.5 degrees Celsius. It raises questions about the long-term viability and feasibility of some agreements. Given the history of countries paying climate funds, the creation of a climate fund has sparked several queries. According to recent WRI data, the majority of wealthy nations are not making their fair share of contributions to reach the $100 billion target. Most countries are concerned about how many and how far industrialized nations will go to comply. Many nations attended COP27 looking for progress on three fronts: climate financing in light of 2009 commitments, global decarbonization, and acknowledgment of developed countries’ financial responsibilities for losses and damages. Only one of these was fully attained.
Despite pledges to phase out fossil fuels, the COP27 meeting fell short of fulfilling the Glasgow climate pact’s promise to “scale out unabated coal power” in 2021. In addition, no new goals or promises were made in the document, jeopardizing the Paris Agreement’s ambition of keeping global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Instead, fresh nation promises, or nationally determined contributions (NDCs), were requested for COP28, essentially delaying these debates by another year.
While there was much to be desired from this summit, it did show some potential by expanding on some talking points from COP26 and highlighting the value of international partnerships and negotiations. Realizing that combating climate change requires action on all fronts is essential. While major corporations and nations form coalitions, every person can contribute to preserving the earth for future generations.