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The 27th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties, or COP27, began on November 6 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, and finished on November 20, 2022, two days later than scheduled due to challenges in organizing diverse delegates to reach a compromise. Now that COP27 has concluded let us look at the achievement of COP27.
Source: The 27th Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
COP27 helped bring together nearly 35,000 stakeholders from 190 nations, comprising politicians, civic groups, and other stakeholders, to reach a consensus on climate-related issues such as climate change adaptation, climate financing, decarbonization, agriculture, water scarcity, food security, and biodiversity.
In the face of global food and energy crises, increased natural calamities, and record greenhouse emissions, COP27 was a critical milestone in reinstalling fresh national cooperation and delivering on the historic Paris Agreement.
The historic decision on a new “loss and damage” fund to aid underprivileged countries in grappling with the negative impacts of climate change was one of the most significant achievements of COP27.
Small island nations and other developing countries began to demand compensation for the harm caused by climate change three decades ago. The phrase “compensation” was highly contentious for industrialized nations, which were concerned that this financing would subject them to massive obligations for previous and ongoing emissions. Thus, establishing the “loss and damage” fund at COP27 was a significant step forward for small islands and other vulnerable states.
A transient team will propose how to implement the finance provisions and give an update at COP28 next year. According to the EU, only countries that meet the requirements of “vulnerable nations,” as defined by the transitional team, will be eligible for “loss and damage” funding.
This “loss and damage” fund will come either through the existing funding systems, such as development banks, or through the incorporation of new and innovative resources, such as taxes on fossil fuels, aviation, etc. The European Union requires that support should only go to “vulnerable” countries, a term to be defined by the transitional committee.
An increasing number of affluent and developing economies are calling for reform of international financial institutions, such as the World Bank, claiming that they have been unable to provide adequate financial support to low-income countries for carbon reduction and adapting to the effects of the climate crisis.
In addressing the issues, COP27 said unequivocally that publicly funded institutions must be reformed. This might entail recapitalizing development banks so they can give significantly more excellent support to developing economies.
As per new findings, about $2 trillion in annual assistance would be required by 2030 to aid developing nations in cutting emissions and dealing with the consequences of climate change, which is only about 5% more than the necessary investment. According to estimates, the World Bank could give around half of those amounts.
Remuneration for “loss and damage” for vulnerable countries is another significant achievement of COP27, but the core issues of climate change need to be addressed first. The last summit in Glasgow, COP26, made a concerted effort to secure global net zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach. To meet these high objectives, governments were urged to phase out coal, the leading source of emissions, and to invest in renewables.
COP27 accords broadly reflect COP26 commitments, urging states to increase “efforts towards the phasedown of unabated coal power and phase-out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies.” The agreement also included a new term, “low emissions energy,” which refers to natural gas as a future energy source alongside renewables.
Natural gas is being marketed as the cleanest hydrocarbon fuel by Egypt and other natural gas exporting states to achieve a better alignment between cutting emissions and social repercussions from a phase-out. However, this contrasts with the findings of the International Energy Agency, which states that to keep the 1.5oC within reach, the usage of unabated gas should reduce by 97 % between 2021 and 2040.
Even though natural gas is less damaging to the environment than coal, methane emissions and leaks from gas infrastructure can cause considerable pollution and hinder the phase-out plan.
Another key achievement of COP27 was the mitigation plans, which were at the center of concerns during the summit, as per the vision laid out by the host nation, Egypt. Following this, COP27 made tremendous progress on mitigation strategies, intending to increase mitigation ambition and execution substantially.
The agreement acknowledges the need to shift to more cost-effective and secure renewable energy systems in these crucial times of unparalleled energy demand. The work program will begin immediately after COP27 and continue until 2030, with at least two global discussions yearly. By the end of 2023, governments will evaluate and enhance the 2030 objectives in their climate policy policies and expedite measures to “phase out unabated coal power and inefficient fossil fuel subsidies.”
As COP27 ended with somewhat surprising results, significant progress was achieved. Establishing a “loss and damage” fund was a significant achievement of COP27. However, the summit came under scrutiny for not committing to phase out fossil fuels or embracing more aggressive emission-cutting objectives. There is another concern over the resolve of developed countries to meet their financial obligations, especially because the previous COP goal of mobilizing a total of US$100 billion each year by 2020 by developed nations has yet to be met.
Nevertheless, the summit has been deemed a success in terms of reacting to the catastrophic consequences of climate change on vulnerable nations. The achievement of COP27 is the outcome of years of struggle by civil society, researchers, activists, and other stakeholders to keep world leaders accountable to commitments made at each COP.