COP27 came to a close on Sunday, November 20th, after two weeks of events, speeches and intense negotiation. This global summit brought delegates from almost every country to coordinate climate change action in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.
Initially scheduled to end on Friday, November 18th, the conference continued into the weekend as delegates worked through the night to reach a final agreement on controlling global warming and funding the costs of a warmer planet.
If you’re not sure what happened, here are a few key takeaways from the final agreement:
“Loss and Damage” Fund Adopted
In response to decades of pressure, wealthier countries made a historic agreement to create a fund to compensate low-income countries for climate damages and economic losses.
Extreme weather events have become a constant reality worldwide as climate change progresses. But the impacts and damage are felt most by low-income countries. These countries have historically contributed little to the pollution heating up the Earth compared to their more developed counterparts. In the final agreement, wealthier countries took financial accountability for the damage and economic losses endured by vulnerable countries. The exact details of the fund will be finalized in the year ahead.
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Phasing Out Fossil Fuels Failed
While establishing the “loss and damage” fund was monumental, the final agreement failed to include language to phase down fossil fuels. Instead, it had weaker language that encouraged “efforts towards the phasedown of unabated coal power and phase-out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies.”
With oil-producing countries like Saudi Arabia refusing to phase out fossil fuels and over 600 attendees linked to fossil fuels at the summit, COP27 has been criticized for failing to name and tackle the leading cause of climate change. Climate justice activist Yeb Saño tweeted,
If all fossil fuels are not rapidly phased out, no amount of money will be able to cover the cost of the resulting #LossAndDamage. It’s that simple. When your bathtub is overflowing you turn off the taps, you don’t wait a while and then go out and buy a bigger mop. #COP27
— Yeb Saño #ClimateJustice (@YebSano) November 20, 2022
Emission Reduction Plans Lacked Accountability
Last year at COP26, countries reaffirmed the goal set out by the Paris Agreement (to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C) and committed to reducing emissions by 45 percent by 2030 to keep this target within reach. Despite being urged to “revisit and strengthen” their commitments at COP27, few countries submitted revised plans.
While the final agreement did reiterate the importance of limiting global warming to 1.5 °C, it failed to set any firm deadlines for submitting new plans. More accountability is needed as many countries are failing to keep their commitments. According to a report by the United Nations Environment Programme, emissions will only fall by 10 percent by 2030 under current plans.
Positive Outcomes for the Planet
Although many feel the final agreement did not take the bold action needed to prevent catastrophic levels of global warming, there were announcements at COP27 that inspired hope. From new financing for forest protection to collaboration on nature-based solutions, these announcements highlighted the efforts mobilizing to build a more sustainable and united future.
Here are a few of the positive outcomes for our planet’s ecosystems:
- The Lowering Emissions by Accelerating Forest Finance (LEAF) coalition announced the largest private-public effort to protect tropical forests. They outlined plans to mobilize over a billion dollars in financing for countries committed to protecting their tropical forests.
- The Forest and Climate Leaders’ Partnership (FCLP), a voluntary partnership of 26 countries committed to accelerating momentum to halt and reverse deforestation and land degradation by 2030, launched.
- American Forests announced The Tree Equity Catalyst Fund — a $10-million fund to help make cities more inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable by ensuring equal access to urban trees and forests.
- The Enhancing Nature-based Solutions for an Accelerated Climate Transformation (ENACT) initiative was launched. It aims to strengthen collaboration and accelerate the implementation of nature-based solutions.
- Brazilian President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva made a moving speech in which he said, “There is no climate security for the world without a protected Amazon. We will do whatever it takes to have zero deforestation and the degradation of our biomes.” This speech contrasts sharply with his predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro, who oversaw years of deforestation in Brazil.
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