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COP27 2022 Round up

November 2022 played host to the 27th global climate conference taking place in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt

What happened at the COP27 climate conference?

Published on
September 5, 2023
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November 2022 played host to the 27th global climate conference taking place in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.

Last year's conference hosted by the UN in Glasgow delivered a host of pledges on emissions cuts, finance, net zero, forest protection and more.

Despite anew framework agreement being drawn up and agreed between the majority of the193 member nations last year in Glasgow, practical steps to achieve these accords, and for previous accords, have been lacking.

Egyptian officials have said the theme of this year’s conference is “Together for Implementation” and will around cash and convincing members to follow through with their past financial commitments. Their top priority will be to secure the final timetable of the $100bn (£89bn) a year developed countries promised back in 2009 to help the developing world cut emissions and adapt to our changing climate.

The total pot was supposed to be delivered in 2020 but now won't be available in full until 2023.

Day 1 – The Leaders’ Summit

The 14-day climate conference started with a summit of world leaders where they urged rich countries to stay the course in stopping further climate change, despite the war in Ukraine and global financial problems.

Nations on the front line of climate change opened the conference by laying out the stark impacts of higher temperatures, drought, and floods on people and the environment. It even lead to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to say:

“We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot on the accelerator.”

The focus of day one was the speeches from UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and French President Emmanuel Macron. They said richer countries avoiding backsliding on their climate commitments, despite the challenging economic situation countries are experiencing. The UK also announced its participation in the Forest and Climate Leaders’ Partnership, though there will be no new UK funding for this initiative.

Brazil is now expected to join under the leadership of incoming President, Luiz Lula da Silva with hope of saving more of the Amazon rainforest.

A UN report released for the conference says the developing world will require $1 trillion (US) of external investment by 2030 for climate action.

The overwhelming message from the UN is that current policies going into this year’s conference will start to see global carbon emissions fall from historic highs but will fall far short of the 1.5ºC warming limit.

Includability Official Partner, Ecologi, said on social media said, “We know that current national pledges are insufficient to safeguard the 1.5ºC warming limit - but today’s speeches to kick off COP27 are a call to action for negotiators to come up with more assertive climate goals in the next 2 weeks.”
Image of the COP 27 conference hall with rows of world delegations and leaders with a blue backdrop on the far wall featuring the slogan "Together For Implementation"
Day 1 Leader Summit - Image Kiara Worth

Day 2 – Leaders’ Speeches Part 2

The second day of leaders’ speeches focussed on nations most vulnerable to climate change. Leaders of countries flooded or parched due to climate change pleaded for an urgent financial lifeline from richer nations.

The Bahamas is particularly vulnerable to sea-level rise and storm damage due to its low-lying position to sea level.

Bahamas Prime Minister Philip Davies spoke passionately to the conference as he does not want to see his country swept away by climate change and his people made refugees. He said, “We will not give up... the alternative consigns us to a watery grave.”

Vulnerable nations are united in their calls at the summit for richer countries to pay the bill for the damage caused by sea level rise, drought and extreme storms. They contribute a fraction of the total of greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere yet bear the brunt of the damage brought by climate change.

They say developed nations owe this money because they became rich off decades of using fossil fuels.

Tomorrow, the discussion shifts to finances and the topic of ‘loss and damage’ is set to be prevalent.

Day 3 – Raising Cash / The Oil Lobby

The first specific topic day of COP was on Wednesday, and it was centred on finance.

New Zealand announced that the country would allocate $12 million (US) to poorer countries, in compensation for loss and damage.

China’s climate envoy indicated that China would be willing to contribute to a loss and damage compensation mechanism.

US climate envoy, John Kerry announced the Energy Transition Accelerator – a public-private partnership aimed at creating carbon markets in developing countries to move away from fossil fuels.

African leaders launched the Africa Carbon Markets Initiative to facilitate the creation of African voluntary carbon markets.

Our Includability Official Partners, Ecologi said about the initiative, “This could be a real advancement towards unlocking climate finance by and for Africa.”

The other main news of the day is analysis shared with the BBC found that delegates with links to fossil fuels at the UN climate summit has jumped 25% since last year.

Fossil fuel lobbyists number over 600 this year, primarily tagging onto the Egyptian, UAE and Russian delegations this year. The researchers believe there are more fossil fuel lobbyists than total delegates from the ten countries most impacted by climate change.

It seems where talks of large sums of money are involved, the fossil fuel industry will be there to ensure it receives a share. It’s easy to feel that the solution will be for leaders to sort it all out, but what we do as individuals matters.

Our Official Partners at Giki say 'greening' your money is one of the most impactful steps we can take.

“Our personal bank accounts and investments are all part of the financial system. Asa result, the money we save or invest may be invested in fossil fuel companies, and our pension funds may also be invested in the stock market, which often includes shareholdings in fossil fuel companies.”

Giki have written a useful blog detailing ways you make your money matter in decarbonising our economies.    

Image by Kiara Worth of a dark stage with a single flaring light illuminating a slogan 'Climate Changes All of Us' with 'changes' highlighted in red and the image of the Earth in the background
Image by Kiara Worth

Day 4 –Adaptation

The first Thursday of COP27 centred around adapting to the changing climate with many new initiatives launched.

The COP27 Presidency launched the Adaptation Agenda – a shared agenda to rally global action around 30 adaptation outcomes that are needed to achieve a resilient world by 2030.

The Cool Capital Stack, a $750 million Investment Pipeline to Protect the World from Extreme Heat was also announced at the Resilience Hub.

A new Race to Resilience Data Explorer was also announced. The campaign launches a dashboard to track progress of adaptation implementation.

There was some disheartening news on the financial front. The head of the UN development programme has said, more than 50 of the poorest developing countries are in danger of defaulting on their debt and becoming effectively bankrupt unless the rich world offers urgent assistance.

Protesters have called for “criminal” fossil fuel representatives to be booted out of the conference following the news that over 600 representatives of the fossil fuel industries were in attendance.

The fossil fuel lobbyists are campaigning to have natural gas classified as a “green fuel” as it produces less CO2e than coal or diesel.

Adaptation has other challenges, not least that the correct response is often local, which makes scaling adaptation plans hard as there is no one size fits all solution.

A lack of funding has been key as those most affected have the least resource to fund programmes.

But there are changes everyone can do at home to help us adapt to the change that is coming. Our Official Partners, Giki, have shared a blog on how we can live more sustainably can help protect the most vulnerable to climate change.

Thursday was also Children and Youth Day at the conference where influential speakers under the age of 30 had the chance to voice their concerns about the future we are heading toward.

Image by Kiara Worth of a 3D billboard advertising the 'Children and Youth Day' at the  COP27 conference. The text is set out from a green and blue background.
Image by Kiara Worth

Day 5 – Decarbonisation

The first week of COP27 ended with the themed day of decarbonisation – a day in which energy intensive sectors and companies came forward with plans and policies and actions aiming to reduce their carbon footprints and to gradually move towards decarbonisation technologies and emerging as potential solutions to reduce carbon in the atmosphere.

Day 6 – Agriculture

The final day of the first week focussed Adaptation and Resilience as components of crucial importance to all parties and in particular developing countries.

However, the weekend revealed developing countries criticised the G7’s proposed loss and damage strategy.

The Egyptian officials were also concerned that there was not enough political momentum in the conference to potentially prevent backsliding on the 1.5C target.

The BBC reported the Egyptian presidency is struggling to find common ground between rich and poor nations, and some delegates fear the focus on 1.5C may be softened to find agreement.

Week 2 Day 7 – An Energised restart

The second week of the conference began on Monday (14) with news that recently elected and incoming Brazilian President, Luiz Lula da Silva would attend the conference with the expectation that Brazil, Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) will sign an alliance dubbed ‘the OPEC of rainforests’ – a pact to reduce deforestation in the Amazon and the other country’s respective forest areas.

Brazil and Indonesia were major absentees in last year’s deforestation pact which saw over 100 countries sign up to end deforestation by taking steps toward creating sustainable supply chains and deforestation-free international trade.

The second Monday also saw a restart of climate negotiations from the US and China following the meeting of Presidents, Joe Biden and Xi Jinping. A step toward keeping the 1.5C target in the realm of possibility.

According to a White House readout of the meeting, the leaders agreed to “empower key senior officials to maintain communication and deepen constructive efforts” on a range of transnational issues, including climate change, global economic stability and food security.

UK COP President, Alok Sharma added to the fears the 1.5C goal would be gone by the end of conference as countries as still looking to ‘water down’ the final draft agreement for this year.  

Andrew Griffiths, Director of Community and Partnerships at our Official Partners, Planet Mark shared a graphic from WWF (Shown below) with this start warning on social media. He said:

“Any talk of removing the 1.5º limit from the text of #COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh is not only irresponsible, as the UN Secretary General said at the start of the summit, it is suicidal. So, I hope that COP27 negotiators don't choose what is easy over what is right. The world is watching and history will remember the names of those who sign on Friday." 
1.5C vs 2C - Image by WWF

The specific themes for the day were centred on gender and water. The African Women’s Climate Adaptive Priorities (AWCAP) initiative was launched today, which was designed to increase opportunities for women in the transition toward a green economy.  

On today’s theme, our Official Partners, Giki, have written a blog on Why women are more vulnerable to climate change. They say, women are disproportionately affected by climate change, but many countries just don’t have the rights and representation to be part of the solutions.

In other announcements from around the conference, the G7 launched a new ‘Global Shield’ programme to leverage around $200 million (US) to help poorer countries recover from climate disasters.

Day 8 - Energy (...or lack there of)

Energy Day would deal with all aspects of energy and climate change, including renewable energy and energy transformation. There was specific focus on just transition in the energy sector, and hydrogen as a potential energy source. It also included discussions of new technologies like smart grids, energy efficiency, renewables, and energy storage.

The theme for the day was set-piece opportunity for announcements on new energy deals, especially when energy prices are at historic highs and even energy security is at the forefront to many countries’ political priorities. However, there was a distinct lack of big announcements from the delegation floor.

The negotiating teams were still busy working on a new draft agreement for this year. The final decision is set to contain agreements of keeping the 1.5C limit within reach, and the $100 billion (US) climate finance goal.

However, the progress on the draft agreement has been underwhelming for our Official Partners, Ecologi. They say, “Much of this is unremarkable, adding little to what we already knew, and not particularly progressing any of the pledges that have already been made.”  

Day 9 – Biodiversity

The penultimate day of thematic days saw a flurry of announcements of how countries can protect natural habitats locally and pledged moderate sums of new cash to protect their eco systems.

The UK committed £30 million of seed finance into the Big Nature Impact Fund – a new public-private fund for nature in the UK which will unlock significant private investment into nature projects, such as new tree planting or restoring peatlands.  

An additional£12 million was pledged to the Ocean Risk and Resilience Action Alliance to protect and restore vulnerable coastal communities and habitats and a further £6 million to provide capacity building support to developing countries to increase commitments to nature.

Day 10 – Solutions

The final scheduled day of the COP 27 climate conference focussed on new solutions. The exhibits on sustainable cities & transport, plastic alternatives and green buildings were set to inspire delegates as they debated a new agreement that would keep the 1.5C target within reach.

However, it would take them more time to come to an agreement.

An image by Kiara Worth of three displays showing possible sustainability solutions for agriculture, energy and water.
Image by Kiara Worth

Extra Time

Official delegates remained in the conference hall for two days longer than the scheduled close of the conference on Friday 18.

The time seemed to be dedicated to agreeing a framework for the new loss and damage pact.

A draft of the main agreement was being presented at this point – It once again reiterated the commitment to limit global warming to 1.5C, first agreed seven years ago in Paris, however there was no advancement on limiting fossil fuels further to last year’s phase down of coal.

While waiting for the final text of the agreement, out Official Partners, Ecologi and Planet Mark, say the text to that point was not enough to close the gap to get the 2030 agenda back on track.

Ecologi said on social media, “Actions announced so far will not be sufficient to prevent exceeding the 1.5ºC limit set by the Paris Agreement.”

Planet Mark say it will be the private sector that will take the lead on net zero opportunities until leaders realise the full ambition of them:  

“We believe brands, institutions and organisations will be leaders. For us and others like us, we need to continue to accelerate our net zero ambitions. The future presents unprecedented business opportunities for those who best leverage the worlds transition to a low carbon economy.”    

History Eventually Made

By the early hours of Sunday 20th, a historical agreement was finally reached as the "loss and damage fund" was agreed.  

It was the first agreement of its kind, and it has left some lingering questions as to who and how money will be paid to smaller nations who contribute little to climate but who suffer most.

A committee has been set up to negotiate these finer points and will report within a year to try and answer who exactly; who will pay? how much? And when?

Those questions may indeed be on the agenda when COP 28 meets in Dubai next year.

Image of a conference screen showing a blazing inferno with the caption, "Heat waves cascaded to turn Pakistan into the hottest place on Earth."
Image by Kiara Worth

The outcomes of COP27

There were some firsts to come out of this year’s COP which did not make the initial news headlines including, text in the final agreement which acknowledges the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) key finding of “tipping points”– a warning of the consequences of human induced climate change that lead to changes are not gradual and linear but could lead to rapidly escalating and often irreversible effects.

There was also a reference to “the right to a clean healthy and sustainable environment”, highlighting the link between global warming and health.

Noting their thoughts once COP27 had concluded, several of our Official Partners commented on what the consequences and next steps following the conference will be.

Steve Malkin, CEO of our Official Partners Planet Mark commented that a COP conference centred around implementation delivered fell short of promise as weaker policy was accepted for the sake of consensus. He said:

“This year’s summit was dubbed the ‘implementation COP’ and whilst a few of the conversations have been constructive, many have not met the need to work collectively to address the urgency of the climate crisis. The work to accelerate radical reductions in carbon emissions has not achieved the desired outcome. Adaptation remains stalled by procedural affairs. Language was also weaker this time about the need for nations to update their Paris Agreement plans within a year.”

He went onto reiterate the sentiment of Planet Mark that the private will most likely lead the way on climate action as growing demand for climate leadership will create opportunity for business where hopefully politicians will follow.

“The world is demanding climate leadership,” Malkin continued, “At Planet Mark, we are seeing that business can provide the leadership we need, and politicians will follow. We help mobilise businesses to create their own credible net zero targets and action plans as part of the UN-backed Race to Zero.”  

Read his full statement for more insights into what this year’s COP will mean.

Elliot Coad, CEO and Co-Founder of our Official Partners, Ecologi mirrored Planet Mark’s sentiments. He also urged that businesses adopt a community approach for reporting sustainability successes and support climate wins, big or small, and even when they come from ‘competitors. He said on social media:

“The world's emissions are produced by the world's businesses. And the governments basically work for the economy.
“Maybe it's time we recognised it's been in our hands all along.
“So then, what if we started to link arms? Supporting not just the big wins but the small ones too, even if they are our competitors.”

Making a positive impact on climate doesn’t lie exclusively in the hands of governments and businesses, individual behaviours can still make a big impact in limiting the climate crisis.

Our Official Partners Giki are encouraging everyone to sign up to their free carbon tracker to see where individuals can make an everyday impact on cutting carbon emissions.

“Sometimes climate change can feel overwhelming. But at big events like COP there’s also reason to be hopeful. We see it everyday in the actions people are talking, ”they said in a recent newsletter. “Please do take a step for COP27 - what individuals do really matters.”

According to Giki’s research, one of the biggest impacts every individual can have on cutting emissions is changing habits around the way we eat. Luckily, our Official Partners at Prosperah have prepared a blog on how important sustainable food will be to all of and will help businesses thrive.

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