Climate Voices

November 22, 2022
By: Climate Generation

Statement: The Successes and Failings of COP27

Statement: The Successes and Failings of COP27 - Photo

The United Nations climate change conference (COP27) concluded with roughly 190 countries, representing signatories of the Paris Agreement, agreeing on the official outcome document: the Sharm el-Sheikh Implementation Plan. Let’s dive into the top three outcomes. 

  1. The document includes possibly the biggest global climate policy move since the Paris Agreement with the inclusion of a plan to set up a Loss and Damage Fund

This is an incredible win made possible by a few things: a 30-year campaign since the beginning of COPs, the establishment of the 2013 Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage (watch the Phillippines plea from 2009), and a strong united front from developing countries at COP27 overall. It marks the first-ever commitment from developed countries (that are responsible for 79% of cumulative emissions) to pay for the devastation and damage caused by their greenhouse gas emissions. 

“COP27 has done what no other COP has achieved and created a loss and damage fund to support the most impacted communities of climate change,” Mohammed Adow of Power Shift Africa said. 

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has been tasked with hosting two meetings prior to next year’s COP28 to begin the dialogue on the key components of the fund: who will contribute to it, who will receive funds, and how it will get disbursed.

  1. Mention of fossil fuels did make it into the document, however it is a “copy-and-paste” of text from last year’s Glasgow Work Programme, doing little to call for the phase out of fossil fuels beyond coal. 

The forward momentum spurred in Glasgow’s COP26 of actually naming the problem –– fossil fuels –– has stalled as of this COP. The exact phrasing in the Implementation Plan document encourages countries to “[accelerate] efforts towards the phasedown of unabated coal power and phase-out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies…”  

Our dismay and disappointment in this language is two-fold: it doesn’t call for the phasedown of fossil fuel energy beyond coal power, and it also only calls for the phase-out of subsidies, rather than the reduction of fossil fuel sources like oil and gas. The latest IPCC report installment indicated that we must immediately move away from fossil fuels to limit climate disaster. To not include phasedown language incongruent and inconsistent with the facts of climate science.

The document does positively mention renewable energy, however does include a reference to boosting “low-emission” energy. Much of this language has been criticized for allowing false-solutions like net zero commitments and carbon capture technology to receive more energy and funding than actually mitigating emissions.

We applaud the inclusion, however, of the importance of just energy transition partnerships, nodding to the trajectory of clean energy and equitable solutions that will be required to ratchet up action and accountability in future COPs.  

  1. The text calls for continuing to keep the world on track of 1.5C of warming, however there is no new ambition or mechanisms to increase the emissions targets of countries. 

Alongside the largest delegation of fossil fuel lobbyists ever seen at a COP, there has been no new developments or commitments from countries regarding reducing their emissions. The gap between what climate science demands and emissions reductions commitments continues to grow. 

“I said in Glasgow that the pulse of 1.5 degrees was weak. Unfortunately, it remains on life support. And all of us need to look ourselves in the mirror, and consider if we have fully risen to that challenge over the past two weeks,” said Alok Sharma, the COP26 president. 

Commitments still put the earth on path to warming by 2.4ºC –– civil society and many countries have called out the hypocrisy of developed countries like the U.S. standing firm on the 1.5 target while doing little to commit to mitigating emissions. Tensions around this will continue to rise, as one of the main challenges of these COP negotiations is that targets and commitments are self-imposed; there are no legal mechanisms to punish countries for not meeting their targets, and there are no incentives for those who do meet them. 

Climate Generation firmly advocates that while international agreements are critical for action, the actual agreement text isn’t going to solve this problem. Everyone working at both national and local levels are the actual holders of solutions and what the unique work needs to be in each community to reach our mitigation and adaptation goals.  

The creation of a loss and damage fund is a huge win for climate justice and accountability, and is a testament to the work of civil society and communities most impacted across the globe,” said Susan Phillips, executive director of Climate Generation. “And our work is not finished. Our world continues to warm, ecosystems continue to collapse, climate weather disasters increase, and ice sheets are melting. We must continue to push to limit warming to 1.5ºC degrees. We must continue to fight for a phase down of ALL fossil fuels. We must continue to shine light on false solutions and push to make sure that climate justice principles are centered in the just transition. Community-based action is a critical component to making all of this happen. Our voices matter.”

While the language of the Implementation Plan is not as strong as it should be, it does indicate the majority of solutions that need to happen. And it continues to be a universal truth that the work of Action for Climate Empowerment is how we will get there. 

We must implement aggressive decarbonization. We must center human rights, Indigenous leadership, and current and future generations. We must continue to join the collective, as individuals, and shout.