By Jessie Taylor
The United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) closed with a breakthrough agreement to protect vulnerable countries affected by climate disasters by providing “loss and damage” funding.
The agreement was concluded at the end of more than two weeks of negotiations around climate change and efforts to mitigate its impact.
A reaffirmed commitment
COP27 saw countries reaffirming their commitment to limit a rise in global temperature to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, as well as cut greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change. The conference brought together more than 45 000 participants to share ideas and solutions and build partnerships and coalitions to address climate change and its impact.
The two-week summit began on Sunday, 6 November. While it was meant to finish on Friday, 18 November, the process over-ran into the early hours of Sunday, 20 November, as nations thrashed agreements on sticky issues.
The work of the conference comes at a critical time. A recent UN Climate Change report found that implementation of current pledges by national governments put the world on track for a 2.5°C warmer world by the end of the century. In addition, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has said that greenhouse gas emissions must decline 45% by 2030 to limit global warming to 1.5°C.
COP27 President Sameh Shoukry said: “The work that we’ve managed to do here in the past two weeks, and the results we have together achieved, are a testament to our collective will, as a community of nations, to voice a clear message that rings loudly today, here in this room and around the world: that multilateral diplomacy still works…. despite the difficulties and challenges of our times, the divergence of views, level of ambition or apprehension, we remain committed to the fight against climate change…. we rose to the occasion, upheld our responsibilities and undertook the important decisive political decisions that millions around the world expect from us.”
Balancing the climate change scales
Much of the discussion at COP27 centred around “climate finance” which considers the needs and priorities of developing countries, and these discussions gave rise to the ground-breaking decision to establish a dedicated fund to assist developing countries in responding to loss and damage caused by climate change.
The fund will help climate-vulnerable countries considered to be developing. It will not include emerging economies.
Governments also agreed to establish a transitional committee to make recommendations on how to operationalise the new funding arrangements. Countries also agreed on the institutional arrangements to operationalise the Santiago Network for Loss and Damage to catalyse technical assistance to developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change.
Simon Stiell, UN Climate Change Executive Secretary, said: “This outcome moves us forward. We have determined a way forward on a decades-long conversation on funding for loss and damage – deliberating over how we address the impacts on communities whose lives and livelihoods have been ruined by the very worst impacts of climate change.”
In addition to the loss and damages funding, countries also made progress on the Global Goal on Adaptation. This aims to improve resilience to climate change among vulnerable countries and has seen nations pledge more than $230-million to the Adaptation Fund at COP27.
The funds will help vulnerable communities adapt to climate change through concrete adaptation solutions.
Some key outcomes of COP27
- The conference saw the launch of a new five-year work program to promote climate technology solutions in developing countries.
- A mitigation work programme was launched in Sharm el-Sheikh, aimed at urgently scaling up mitigation ambition and implementation. The work programme will start immediately and continue until 2030, with at least two global dialogues held each year.
- Delegates at COP27 wrapped up the second technical dialogue of the first global stocktake, a mechanism to raise ambition under the Paris Agreement.
- UN Secretary-General António Guterres announced a $3.1-billion plan to implement early warning systems within the next five years.
- Countries devised a master plan to accelerate the decarbonisation of five major sectors – power, road transport, steel, hydrogen, and agriculture.
- The Forest and Climate Leaders’ Partnership was launched. The partnership aims to unite action by governments, businesses and community leaders to halt forest loss and land degradation by 2030.
- Former US Vice-President and climate activist Al Gore, with the support of the UN Secretary-General, presented a new independent inventory of greenhouse gas emissions created by the Climate TRACE Coalition.