COP27: Too little done; much more needed
The United Nations Climate Change Conference COP27 which closed on Sunday with a breakthrough agreement to provide "loss and damage" funding for vulnerable countries hit hard by climate disasters could be said to have scored a symbolic victory.
The United Nations Climate Change Conference COP27 which closed on Sunday with a breakthrough agreement to provide "loss and damage" funding for vulnerable countries hit hard by climate disasters could be said to have scored a symbolic victory. And it is just that – symbolic. Whether this would have any effect on the goals of containing the temperature rise beyond 1.5 degrees Centigrade is what is important to the world and its populations. However, there is little to hope that there is a signal to do so by the countries.
"This outcome moves us forward," said Simon Stiell, UN Climate Change Executive Secretary. "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." Set against a difficult geopolitical backdrop, COP27 resulted in countries delivering a package of decisions that reaffirmed their commitment to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The package also strengthened action by countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the inevitable impacts of climate change, as well as boosting the support of finance, technology and capacity building needed by developing countries. Some felt that creating a specific fund for loss and damage marked an important point of progress, with the issue added to the official agenda and adopted for the first time at COP27.
Those who left the venue on such a positive note feel that the governments took the ground-breaking decision to establish new funding arrangements, as well as a dedicated fund, to assist developing countries in responding to loss and damage. Governments also agreed to establish a 'transitional committee' to make recommendations on how to operationalise both the new funding arrangements and the fund at COP28 next year. The first meeting of the transitional committee is expected to take place before the end of March 2023.
Parties 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. What has been agreed upon is not simply enough to save this planet despite tall claims of COP27 making significant progress on adaptation, with governments agreeing on the way to move forward on the Global Goal on Adaptation, which will conclude at COP28 and inform the first Global Stocktake, improving resilience amongst the most vulnerable. New pledges, totaling more than $230 million, were made to the Adaptation Fund at COP27. These pledges will help many more vulnerable communities adapt to climate change through concrete adaptation solutions. But, developing countries which need to cut down on carbon emissions have not committed anything significant in this regard.
COP27 President Sameh Shoukry announced the Sharm el-Sheikh Adaptation Agenda, enhancing resilience for people living in the most climate-vulnerable communities by 2030. The UN Climate Change's Standing Committee on Finance was requested to prepare a report on doubling adaptation finance for consideration at COP28 next year. The cover decision, known as the Sharm el-Sheikh Implementation Plan, highlights that a global transformation to a low-carbon economy is expected to require investments of at least $4-6 trillion a year. Delivering such funding will require a swift and comprehensive transformation of the financial system and its structures and processes, engaging governments, central banks, commercial banks, institutional investors and other financial actors. It is a tall order...by all means.