What’s happening at COP27?
COP27 - our daily updates
On Sunday, COP27 got off to an interesting start, with extended negotiations taking place to finalise the formal agenda for the next two weeks. These talks went into the early hours – culminating in the adoption of the formal agenda.
Notably, the COP27 agenda includes, for the first time, an important agenda item – “matters relating to funding arrangements for addressing loss and damage”. This is a key development, and what it shows is a commitment to discuss a payment mechanism toward countries who are most impacted by climate change, to cover the costs of the losses and damages that it causes. This is the first time loss and damage has made it onto the COP agenda, and how these loss and damage negotiations go is likely to be key to the relative success or failure of the COP.
The opening ceremony took place later on Sunday, including speeches from Alok Sharma, the UK’s COP26 President, who handed the Presidency over to Sameh Shoukry, Egypt’s Minister of Foreign Affairs. Shoukry will be a key voice over these next two weeks, as the new COP27 President.
Day 1 - World Leaders’ Summit (Part 1)
The World Leaders’ Summit began today, with speeches from a number of political leaders from all over the globe. This is the part of the COP where heads of state and heads of government rally around the conference centre to make their speeches ahead of the two weeks of negotiations which form the wider COP agenda. Historically, the World Leaders’ Summit has been used as an opportunity to set the tone for the COP, and hit some core messages which will carry through for the coming two weeks.
A lot of the focus today, especially from European leaders like UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and French President Emmanuel Macron, was on richer countries avoiding backsliding on their climate commitments, despite the challenging economic situation we find ourselves in. The UK also announced its participation in the Forest and Climate Leaders’ Partnership, and although there will be no new funding from the UK for this initiative, Brazil – home to the Amazon rainforest – is expected to join under the leadership of incoming President, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
One of the most provocative speeches came from UN Secretary General, António Guterres, who warned that we are on “a highway to climate hell”, saying that “we are in the fight of our lives, and we are losing.” Mia Mottley, the Prime Minister of Barbados, used her speech to talk of the devastating impacts of climate change we are already seeing – in her own region of the Caribbean, but also in the European heatwaves, and floods in Pakistan.
These are really challenging messages, but it’s important to remember that the 1.5ºC warming limit targeted by the Paris Agreement isn’t lost just yet. We see a lot of concerns about this – and rightly so, because the challenge we face is truly enormous – but, in the words of climate writer Ketan Joshi, if we do miss 1.5ºC, then the next major target has to be 1.51ºC – not 2ºC – because each tiny increment of warming matters. We explored what makes 1.5ºC significant in our recent collaboration with Ade Adepitan and WaterBear – take a look here.
With the recent UN Emissions Gap Report, we are all too aware of the “woeful” inadequacy of the current national commitments in terms of keeping warming below 1.5ºC. It will be crucial, over the coming negotiations, to not lose sight of how far we have come, even since Paris – as well as keeping a laser-focus on how far we still have to go.
Over the next day or so, we’ll hear more from world leaders, and the theme of their speeches is likely to be similar – with lots of discussion of the importance of mitigating climate change, and the impacts we are already seeing. Hopefully these speeches will work to inspire the negotiating teams and civil society to push for ever more concrete action on climate.
We’re looking forward to bringing you all the updates from COP27 over the coming two weeks – stay tuned for our analysis as the conference develops.
Day 2 - World Leaders’ Summit (Part 2)
To keep track of who wants what from COP27, CarbonBrief has prepared a super handy interactive tracker which covers a wide range of topics and what the national and transnational stakeholders in attendance are trying to achieve from this year’s COP.
Our team has noticed that, here in the UK at least, there’s significantly less news coverage of COP27 than there was for COP26 last year. This could be because of generally lower expectations surrounding COP this time around, or because it’s not being hosted in or near the UK, or for a number of other reasons – but it’s a shame to see, because we know how much more urgent the climate crisis becomes with each year that passes.
A key development that has reached our ears here in the UK though is Tuvalu and Vanuatu calling for a fossil fuels non-proliferation treaty. They are joining with scientists and Nobel peace prize laureates in seeking an end to fossil fuel usage, just as the latest IPCC report tells us needs to happen to avoid breaking the 1.5°C barrier. As two of the countries that are most exposed to the impacts of climate change, and responsible for a tiny fraction of the greenhouse gas emissions that are causing climate change, it is not surprising that they are leading this charge. Unfortunately, it seems unlikely that any major emitters will join them in calls to totally end fossil fuel usage any time soon.
Speaking of countries least responsible for causing climate change, a report commissioned by the UK and Egyptian governments was published today stating that $2 trillion per year is going to be required by developing nations by 2030 in order to help them move away from fossil fuels and cope with the extreme weather patterns caused by rising global temperatures.
Those extreme weather patterns are, of course, already impacting nations around the world without the capacity to protect themselves from the devastation that torrential rain, destructive wind, and droughts bring. Today, the president of Palau, Surangel Whipps, told the conference of the horrific consequences his country is experiencing, saying, “The climate crisis is tearing us apart limb by limb. Just last Monday we were hit by another storm, ripping off roofs and destroying our infrastructure. Droughts have caused water shortages.” As there is every year at COP, we have witnessed a desperation from many world leaders in Sharm el-Sheik, for those with the ability to change the course we are on to do so quickly, before more lives are lost.
Elsewhere in the world, it’s election day in the US today, where the midterm elections will decide the composition of the US House of Representatives and the US Senate for the next two years. We’ll be keeping a close eye on the outcomes from the midterms, because there are likely to be significant implications for US climate policy depending on the way these votes fall.
Tomorrow’s focus is Finance, so we’ll be interested to see whether any new pledges from public or private entities will be made. It’s likely that the topic of Loss and Damages, a late addition to the conference’s agenda, will also be discussed tomorrow, so we will be keeping an eye out for any news on that front too.
Day 3 - Finance
After two days of speeches from world leaders, COP27 day 3 is the first day of subject-specific negotiations, and today’s key area is finance. The key theme we’ve been looking out for is financial commitments in relation to loss and damage, which made it onto the COP Agenda for the very first time this year. “Loss and damage” relates to the cost of reparations required due to the impacts of climate change – for example, from extreme weather events.
New Zealand’s Foreign Minister, Nanaia Mahuta announced on Tuesday that the country would allocate $20 million NZD ($12 million USD) to poorer countries, in compensation for loss and damage. Meanwhile, China’s climate envoy Xie Zhenhua indicated that China would be willing to contribute to a loss and damage compensation mechanism.
Also on the topic of finance is the targeted $100 billion USD-per-year climate finance – intended for mitigation – which is still not being delivered. Richer countries reaffirmed their commitment to delivering this back in Paris in 2015, but so far there’s not been a single year where the $100 billion USD has been delivered to the poorer countries where climate impacts are felt the hardest. John Kerry, US Climate Envoy made a rather clumsy statement on this yesterday, saying “Everyone is upset that the $100 billion has not been fulfilled – it’s at $90-something… when I got 90-something on a test at school I felt pretty good.”
Whilst Kerry went on to announce 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. This could be a real advancement towards unlocking climate finance by and for Africa.
Al Gore, former US Vice President, delivered an impassioned speech today, in which he discussed the launch of Climate TRACE, an independent greenhouse gas emissions tracking tool – offering it up for free to nations who don’t have access to high-quality emissions tracking. The tool is especially powerful in relation to emissions from point sources, like individual power plants or in international shipping. Gore also referenced the Benban Solar park in his speech in relation to the immense potential of renewables expansion across Africa – and Ecologi supported this solar project on our platform back in July.
At the conference itself, food and water provision has been reportedly shambolic, with delegates resorting to picking up Coca-Cola bottles from pallets of restaurant stock (Coca-Cola controversially sponsors COP27), as they go in search of food and drink at the conference centre.
Elsewhere, prominent climate activists and writers – including Naomi Klein and Greta Thunberg have been highlighting human rights concerns, especially in relation to the imprisonment of protesters. At COP itself, protests are banned within the conference centre and are only ‘allowed’ within an officially-designated protest area, which, according to news sources, is a long way from the formal conference proceedings. Alexandra Villaseñor, a youth climate activist who’s at COP27, noted earlier this week that many websites are blocked on-site, which is limiting the ability of activist groups to operate at all, whilst on the ground in Sharm El-Sheikh.
Day 4 - Science; Youth & Future Generations
Whilst today’s joint Presidency Programme themes are Science and Youth & Future Generations, there’s (as expected) still lots of finance discussion taking place today – especially in relation to that $100 billion USD figure, and in relation to loss and damage. We expect this theme will continue throughout the remainder of the conference, with most significant announcements likely to relate to these two finance-based topics.
As part of the Youth focus, youth activists were invited to two roundtables, collectively titled “Passing the Baton”, to deep-dive on core issues relating to climate justice, resilience and adaptation. Other sessions today include sessions examining children and youth on the frontline of climate change – which is particularly crucial given that children and youth are one of the groups most at-risk of climate impacts.
At face value, these are important sessions to run at COP – but we know all-too-well that this COP, as most do, is proving exclusive to some groups, and marginalising key youth and minority voices. We’ll be keeping an eye on whether youth activists participating in these sessions genuinely feel heard. Only last night, 20-year-old UN advisor Sophia Kianni delivered a speech with a powerful and clear instruction for world leaders at COP: to “stop lying” about taking real action on climate.
The Guardian and the BBC reported today that COP27 is hosting a record number of fossil fuel lobbyists this year – after reporters calculated that 636 delegates are currently representing oil and gas companies in Sharm El-Sheikh. This was relatively predictable (since fossil fuel lobbyists have always represented a significant bloc at COPs) but it’s a shame to see that this heavily polluting industry, which we all know has no future in a 1.5ºC world, continues to persist with significant influence over COP proceedings.
During the Presidency Briefing today, Wael Aboulmagd, Special Representative of the COP27 President, noted that consultations on the COP’s “cover decision” (the formally negotiated written document which is published at the culmination of the COP) won’t begin until Saturday. Last year’s cover decision became the Glasgow Climate Pact, and based on the relative lack of groundwork we’ve seen so far, it seems likely that this year’s cover decision won’t be quite so ambitious as that.
In other news today, it sounds like issues with food and drink supply at the conference are starting to be resolved, with food and drink becoming free or discounted – which is good news, as hungry delegates won’t make agreeable negotiators! However, the nature of the food and drink on offer at the conference has come under fire from some environmental groups for being very meat and dairy heavy. Similar arguments were made last year in Glasgow, where the majority of food options were high-carbon meals containing animal products. Furthermore, delegates are facing water shortages, and instead having to reach for the world’s biggest plastic polluter and controversial COP27 lead sponsor’s products – Coca-Cola.
Day 5 - Decarbonisation
Today’s theme at COP27 is Decarbonisation, one of the most crucial topics of the conference. Today, our team is anticipating discussions on decarbonising high-emitting sectors and carbon-intensive industries, like manufacturing. We’re also hoping there will be a focus on supporting developing countries towards low-carbon development.
Following up on promises made at COP26 in Glasgow, here’s what we’d like to see today:
- Major coal users joining the coal phase-out deal. More than 40 countries committed to shift away from coal, in pledges made at COP26. However, the USA, China, India and Australia, to name a few, were amongst the major coal producers and users missing from this commitment. It will be crucial to see whether these countries sign up to the agreement this time around.
- Implementation of the Global Methane Pledge. While more than 120 countries signed a formal methane-cutting pledge last year, national implementation plans are still missing and global methane emissions are higher than ever. The roll-out of binding plans would be a strong signal to high-emitting industries and push further toward broader net-zero commitments which include this especially potent greenhouse gas.
- Fossil fuel phase-out pledge. COP26 saw the launch of the Beyond Oil & Gas Alliance (BOGA) by countries like Costa Rica, Denmark, and France – but no countries who currently are major fossil fuel producers joined the Alliance. There are strong incentives for all nations – fossil-fuel producers or not – to join BOGA, and go a step-further to agree on a complete phase-out. We’re keen to see whether this will happen at COP27, or whether these countries will drag their feet.
Concrete progress during Decarbonisation Day is crucial because of the simple fact that emissions have to come down – dramatically, quickly, and permanently.
Recent analysis of the current global carbon budget, published yesterday by the Global Carbon Project, shows that the growth of global CO2 emissions slowed to around 0.2% per year in the last decade – and lays out the anticipated remaining carbon budgets for 1.5ºC (380 GtCO2), 1.7ºC (730 GtCO2) and 2ºC (1,230 GtCO2) pathways. So far, carbon emissions growth has slowed significantly, sufficiently enough to avoid the very worst-case scenarios – but not remotely enough to keep under 1.5ºC. Crucially though, this analysis looks only at carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions – and does not incorporate other greenhouse gases such as methane (CH4) or nitrous oxide (N2O), which are analysed separately.
We do however know from the latest IPCC Assessment Report that global emissions need to peak by 2025 at the latest, to safeguard the 1.5ºC warming limit – so whilst we are still travelling in the wrong direction, it does seem that global CO2 drawdown (the day that emissions begin to decrease rather than increase) is just around the corner. With this, two things are crucial: ensuring drawdown arrives as soon as possible, and ensuring that at that point, we see accelerated efforts to decarbonise ever-faster – rather than seeing it as an opportunity to ease up our efforts.
Joe Biden, US President, took to the stage in Sharm El-Sheikh today, in which he criticised Russia, apologised for the US departing the Paris Agreement under his predecessor, lauded the importance of nature-based climate projects, and announced a new commitment under the Global Methane Pledge to improve the US’s ability to crack-down on methane leaks and reduce American methane emissions by 87% by 2030 (using a 2005 baseline). The wide-ranging speech and all the various announcements is summarised on the White House website.
Also today, Fridays For Future youth activists protested outside the COP27 conference centre, calling for climate justice, and for rich countries to pay reparations for loss and damage.
Here at Ecologi HQ, we hosted our COP27 Net-zero for Businesses webinar today – a comprehensive two-hour workshop, taking you through how you can set your business on the path to net-zero. You can download and rewatch the webinar – completely free – here.
Day 6 - Adaptation; Agriculture & Food Systems
The Saturday in the middle of the COP is traditionally the day when the major climate march takes place. Unusually, today’s protest took place inside the Blue Zone itself, which is remarkable due to the fact that the Blue Zone at the COPs is formally recognised as UN-controlled territory for the duration of the conference. Protesters in Sharm El-Sheikh and around the world marched on this year’s global day of action, calling for climate justice and an end to new fossil fuel licences.
Negotiations on the COP27 cover decision began today, and there are a large number of agenda items to be negotiated – ranging from decisions on adaptation, loss and damage, carbon markets, capacity building and gender.
We’re keeping an eye on negotiations surrounding the functioning of the Santiago Network on Loss and Damage. The Santiago Network was established at COP25 in Madrid, aimed at “catalysing the technical assistance” of actors in implementing interventions relating to minimising loss and damage in the countries most vulnerable to climate change impacts. As we’ve seen, lots of the focus of the COP has been surrounding loss and damage – for the first time, making it onto the Agenda itself – but exactly what shape this takes, in terms of finance and in terms of function, is still unclear.
In terms of the main topic focuses for today – adaptation and agriculture – consensus was hard to reach. Whilst the findings of the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture (borne of a decision from COP23 to acknowledge agriculture and agricultural interventions as crucial to climate change discussion) were accepted, no outcomes from it were decided. As we go into the second week of COP, all of these decisions need addressing if there is to be consensus, come the end of the week.
Day 7 - Rest Day
Sundays at COP are used to give negotiating teams and delegates a chance to rest-up, before continuing in earnest on Monday.
As we go into week two of the conference, CarbonBrief has prepared a free, public negotiations tracker to help follow where the agreements (and disagreements) are, over the cover decision.
Day 8 - Gender; Water
Welcome back, for week two of our analysis of what’s happening on the ground at COP27.
There is a feeling of apprehension surrounding COP27 at the moment. The BBC is reporting on fears on the ground that negotiators will seek to find common ground between richer and poorer nations by backsliding on the current strong commitments to limiting warming to 1.5ºC. Lest we forget, the difference in impacts between warming of 1.5ºC and 2ºC is enormous, and this 0.5ºC gap represents a huge volume of prospective human and non-human suffering.
In tune with today’s topic focus on Gender, the African Women’s Climate Adaptive Priorities (AWCAP) initiative was launched today, designed to increase opportunities for women in the transition toward a green economy, as well as promoting gender-sensitive perspectives in adaptation and mitigation.
The G7, led by Germany, today launched a new ‘Global Shield’ programme to leverage around $200 million USD to help poorer countries recover from climate disasters.
Brazil, Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have signed an alliance dubbed ‘the OPEC of rainforests’ at the G20 summit this week, to coordinate efforts to conserve the remaining tropical rainforests within their borders. Brazil’s incoming President, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (known commonly as ‘Lula’) has already indicated that he intends to end Amazon deforestation – though this new alliance with Indonesia and the DRC was actually signed by the outgoing government of Jair Bolsonaro. Lula is expected to speak at COP27 on Wednesday, and the G20 summit takes place this week in Bali, Indonesia.
Elsewhere in environmental governance, COP19 of the CITES treaty (that’s the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species) starts today, over in Panama. With all the talk of the climate change conferences of the UNFCCC, it’s easy to forget that COPs for many other environmental conventions take place, without anywhere near as much coverage.
Another one we’ll be keeping an eye out for, is COP15 of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) – which takes place in Canada from the 7th December.
Day 9 - Energy; Civil Society
As we start to see some of the draft documents coming out of COP27, it’s fair to say that the COP is currently looking quite disappointing.
A non-paper listing “possible elements” for inclusion in the COP cover decision was published via the UNFCCC website yesterday, and it isn’t particularly revolutionary. “Non-papers” are documents of notes which support the general shaping of the final cover decision, and whilst there is a fair amount in there – such as the urgency of keeping the 1.5ºC limit within reach, and mention of the $100 billion USD climate finance goal – 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.
This has led to some climate writers (including us here in the Ecologi team) speculating that the final cover decision could be quite low-impact. Whether the cover decision will be one which takes concrete action to progress from the commitments of COP26, or one which just makes vague statements “recalling the Glasgow Climate Pact” (or similar) will be negotiated over the next few days. At the moment, it’s very up in the air.
Today’s Presidency themes are Energy and Civil Society. The Guardian, and 30 other news outlets in 20 countries around the world, took the opportunity today to run a joint editorial calling for a climate tax on fossil fuel giants. Meanwhile, the International Energy Agency (IEA) published a report this morning which finds that emissions from existing coal plants alone could push the world over the 1.5ºC limit, concluding therefore that eliminating coal is crucial to climate targets.
Countries including the US and Japan announced $20 billion USD of finance to support coal phase-out in Indonesia (the world’s 5th-largest emitter). You’ll remember on COP Day 5 (Decarbonisation), we were looking out for more countries to commit to phasing-out coal – it will be interesting to see whether the new IEA report influences coal phase-out further, in the remainder of the COP.
There was also a further commitment of adaptation funding today, with governments including Denmark, Finland, Germany and Ireland announcing a total of over $100 million USD in funding for the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) and Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF).
Day 10 - Biodiversity
With recent concerns over whether COP27 will see backsliding on the 1.5ºC target set by the Paris Agreement, some positive news came out of the G20 summit in Bali overnight, where G20 leaders have stressed their commitment to retaining the 1.5ºC limit as the “guiding star” of our collective climate ambitions.
Meanwhile, Portugal and Washington State (US) formally joined the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance (BOGA) as ‘core members’ today. We’re keeping an eye on how BOGA, which was launched only last year, gains momentum in these final days of the COP. Also today, the EU pledged over $1 billion USD in climate funding to support countries in Africa boost resilience in the face of accelerating impacts of warming.
The Presidency topic for today is Biodiversity, and this topic is crucial, especially in the run-up to COP15 of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which is coming up in Montréal, Canada, in December. Delegates pivotal to the Paris Agreement back in 2015 are pushing for a similar agreement in relation to nature – called the ‘global biodiversity framework’ (GBF). Given the current global biodiversity outlook, it’s clear that something on the scale of the Paris Agreement is necessary to support nature’s recovery – and it’s sounding like it’ll come not a moment too soon. We’ll be covering the outcomes from COP15 when it comes around.
The Egyptian COP27 Presidency announced, in conjunction with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the launch of ‘Enhancing Nature-based Solutions for an Accelerated Climate Transformation’ (ENACT), which will accelerate implementation, encourage further dialogues about the value of nature-based solutions, and protect at least 1 billion people and 2.4 billion hectares of healthy ecosystems.
Next year’s COP (which will be COP28, hosted in the United Arab Emirates) was also pushed back by almost a month today – instead of starting 6th November, it will now begin on 30th November 2023. The draft text, which confirms the date change, also refers to arrangements for COP29 in 2024 and COP30 in 2025 as well, which haven’t had their host countries formally decided yet.
Day 11 - Solutions
Whilst the Presidency sent a letter out to delegates last night, committing to “deliver by Friday”, it seems vanishingly unlikely that this COP will be over by then. The first few non-papers surrounding the final cover decisions from this COP have started to come through, and there’s still an awful lot of work to be done.
The first non-paper came through overnight, with a sketch of the final cover decisions, and it’s fair to say that it’s a little disappointing so far. There are very few mentions of fossil fuels, and commitments to “phase down unabated coal power” are inarguably very wishy-washy.
One interesting passage in the draft non-paper notes that the conference of the parties “expresses deep regret that developed countries … are taking inadequate and unambitious goals to achieve net zero emissions by 2050”. Whilst this is quite strongly worded, expressing deep regret isn’t compelling anybody to do anything – so we’ll be looking for more “requests”, “urges” and other calls to action in the final text.
We think it’s very unlikely that the COP will be finished by tomorrow, and is more likely – as many COPs do, including Glasgow last year – to go on well into the weekend. We’ll be around to keep you updated here throughout!
One other update that came through: just as we were discussing the venues for future COPs yesterday, another draft decision was published this morning, updating us that COP29 (in 2024) will be in the Eastern Europe, and COP30 (in 2025) will be in Latin America or the Caribbean. The locations of the COPs rotate through the five UN Regional Groups, so we’ll be interested to see where these end up being held.
Update 20:00 local time:
We’ve now reached the part in the COP process where things really start to heat up. The cover decision draft texts that we’ve seen are very bloated, and there’s still an awful lot left to resolve.
UN Secretary General, António Guterres, returned to COP to speak and urge delegates to pull their fingers out. “This is no time for finger-pointing,” he said. “This blame game is a recipe for mutually assured destruction”. By one count, by the ever-brilliant journalists at CarbonBrief, there was only one topic item (out of 31) agreed, as of about 19:45 local time on Thursday.
At our best guess, we think that COP is very unlikely to finish tomorrow and will probably continue long into Saturday – possibly even into Sunday. Out of the 26 COPs to date, only six have finished on the intended day.
Day 12 - Friday (final negotiations)
COP27 is – or was – intended to finish today, with the publication of the final cover decision. A draft of the decision was published early this morning, and whilst a lot has changed since the previous non-papers we had seen, there are still only around 10 of the 31 topic items which have been agreed by negotiators. And so, this morning, the Presidency conceded that the talks are going to continue into tomorrow (Saturday).
In these next updates, we’ll keep you on top of what the cover decision actually looks like, and how we think it’s taking shape.
As it is right now, the draft decision:
- Reaffirms the resolution to pursue efforts to limit warming to 1.5ºC and “welcomes” the contributions of Working Groups II and III to the most recent IPCC report, as well as the adaptation gap and emissions gap reports from UNEP and recent reports from the WMO.
- References fossil fuels only in relation to the phasing out of “inefficient fossil fuel subsidies”.
- Presents two differing positions on “unabated coal power” – with one reference to its “phase-out” and the other to its “phase down”.
- “Strongly urges” Parties to submit new nationally determined contributions (NDCs) before COP28. NDCs are national plans for emissions reductions which are required under the Paris Agreement.
- “Urges” Parties to take a “transformational approach” to increasing adaptation capabilities.
- On loss and damage, “welcomes” the inclusion of loss and damage on the agenda, and “notes with deep concern” the growing scale and scope of losses and damages caused by climate change, and “welcomes” the agreement on the development of the Santiago Network, which we talked about on Day 6, above.
The consensus among our team at Ecologi HQ is that the cover decision is still very weak – though it’s a lot stronger than the non-papers we’ve seen over the last 48 hours. Scientists from Scientist Rebellion are calling the 1.5ºC goal infeasible, with an anonymous study in Nature finding only 4% of IPCC authors think limiting warming to 1.5ºC is likely. It’s hard to see how this draft cover decision changes much.
The EU appears to be trying to move things forward, with a commitment to a significant loss and damage fund for the most vulnerable countries, in exchange for stronger wording on mitigation in the final cover decision. This proposal was presented by Frans Timmermans, First Vice President of the European Commission, who earlier this week was confronted by youth activists including Luisa Neubauer over the EU’s financial and policy contributions to fossil fuel expansion in Africa.
Let’s see how things develop over the next 24 hours.
Day 13 - Saturday (final negotiations)
Today began with a gloomy atmosphere, with the COP27 President Sameh Shoukry noting that compromise on the final cover decision may be approaching, on the basis of all parties being equally unhappy. In particular, there was consensus lacking on loss and damage, and on mitigation – as we saw yesterday, some parties including the EU were willing to make concessions on one side, in exchange for concessions on the other.
As today wore on though, a total collapse of negotiations was never far away. A new cover decision draft was published around 14:00 local time, which largely repeats wording surrounding the 1.5ºC goal from the Glasgow Climate Pact last year. The new text did not feature further language around fossil fuel phaseout, and had conspicuously removed a previous reference to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment.
The closing plenary session is currently scheduled for 21:00 local time (19:00 UK). It feels like a deal may be inching closer.
Day 14 - Sunday (final text agreed)
Well, then. The final cover decision was finally agreed in the plenary, well after 4am on Sunday morning. This came as a relief, as much of the weekend has been spent waiting with bated breath to find out if talks would collapse entirely.
The final cover decision, which has been titled the Sharm El-Sheikh Implementation Plan, was beaten into shape overnight, through frantic and exhausted negotiations, which struggled to reach a deal that all parties would agree to. It’s clear where the main fault lines were: who would be eligible for the loss and damage fund that had been agreed (and who would pay for it), and how exactly the phaseout of fossil fuels would be handled.
The gavel came down on the cover text at around 04:20 local time, as the sun was rising.
The agreement and publication of the cover decision marks the end of COP27, and of our daily coverage. Before we go though, here are our team’s thoughts about what the text looks like:
- Historic inclusion of a loss and damage fund. It was a big deal that loss and damage had made it onto the agenda, so to have come to the end of COP27 with an agreement that there will be a fund for loss and damage to support vulnerable nations in dealing with losses and damages caused by climate disasters is, inarguably, a historic moment.
- No advancement on fossil fuels since Glasgow. Fossil fuels, once again, are mentioned only once in the text – in the context of the “phasedown of unabated coal power and phase-out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies”. Coal isn’t mentioned further than this, and oil and fossil gas aren’t at all. This is still very weak mitigation language, given the urgency and enormity of the crisis we face.
- Human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment. You may remember over the past couple of days we spotted that this entered the draft text, and then conspicuously disappeared. Well, the final text includes an ‘acknowledgement’ of this human right, which is a (small) win.
- Mitigation and the 1.5ºC goal. The biggest failure of this COP was surely its failure to advance the obligations of Parties to reduce emissions in line with the 1.5ºC goal set by the Paris Agreement. The text ‘recognises’ that the 1.5ºC requires huge emissions reductions, and ‘welcomes’ the findings of the latest scientific reports, but in this – the international forum for climate governance – the COP was unable to demand further emissions reductions and a phaseout of fossil fuels from the Parties is very damning.
In addition to the generally weak cover text, some delegates have raised concerns about the chaotic and exclusionary nature of the passing through of the final text.
There will be plenty of talk following COP about whether 1.5ºC is ‘still alive’ (or ‘on life support’, as Alok Sharma, COP26 President called it). Whilst science tells us that 1.5ºC is still physically achievable, on a political level there are clearly huge challenges which we have yet to overcome – and COP27 has been a very clear symbol of that. As it is, the chances of limiting warming to 1.5ºC on the basis of these political obstacles, is low.
Our team will be back later this week with further in-depth analysis, but for now – thanks for tuning in to our daily coverage of COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh. Remember to visit our business and individual pages, to see how you can be part of our movement to take real climate action.
Welp. That’s it folks! This will be our final instalment of the daily COP updates we’ve been running over the past two weeks. Unlike last year’s COP, there seems to be more general consensus surrounding the perceived ‘success’, or lack thereof, of COP27. This probably won’t come as a surprise to you if you’ve been keeping up with our coverage, but it definitely doesn’t get easier to report on. However, let’s cover some salient points and let you be the judge.
- COP began by sending mixed messages to an audience expecting significant commitments. By getting loss and damages on the agenda after 30 years, there was a general acknowledgement that an increase in extreme natural disasters were causing both economic, social, and environmental losses to countries which are least responsible for climate change. For further analysis on loss and damages, see here.
- COP saw plastic waste production giant Coca-Cola as its main sponsor, alongside hundreds of private jets flying into Egypt and an unprecedented number of fossil-fuel lobbyists.
- COP27 had three main objectives: mitigation (tackle GHG emissions at the source and reduce them), adaptation, and finance on loss and damages. Although some positive signals were sent, the fulfilment of these objectives remain largely insufficient. An agreement on the establishment of a fund “for responding to loss and damage whose mandate includes a focus on addressing loss and damage”, and promises to contribute up to US$230 billion to the Adaptation Fund were hopeful signals. However, the loss and damage fund remains empty, and based on the failure by developed countries to provide the already inadequate $100bn a year promised over a decade ago, the risk of down payment remains strong. On the latter, no additional commitment to finally meet this target was made.
- The cover decision reaffirms the objective of the Paris agreement to limit global warming to 1.5°C while over 1,000 scientists agreed that there is currently no plausible pathway to 1.5°C. This would require global emissions to peak before 2025 and be reduced by 43% by 2030. Even with that, it would likely lead to the 1.5°C cap being exceeded within the next ten years. At the moment, we are heading towards a global warming of 2.6-2.8°C. There’s a massive contradiction in “welcoming” the science and findings of the IPCC’s reports while simultaneously refusing to raise ambition on mitigation, as required by science.
- For the first-time, ‘nature-based solutions’ is included in the cover decision. Several articles mention that the text missed the opportunity of committing to the phase-down of fossil fuel, never mind the proposition of a fossil-fuel non-proliferation treaty made by some nations at the beginning of COP. By not going any further than the Glasgow agreement over the past 12 months, COP27 certainly represents a step backwards.
- Cover decision includes a reference to “low emission and renewable energy”, but the definition of low emission energy remains unclear. It is likely that this is by design, and some countries will argue for increased use of natural gas based on this line.
Some may argue that the language of COP27’s final cover decision is stronger and more assertive than COP26’s, but the substance remains weak to tackle the formidable challenge that lies ahead. Following the IPCC’s 6th Assessment Report, the global energy crisis, and increasing pressure from civil society, we had hoped for stronger commitments from developed nations, an actual phase-out of fossil-fuels, and the delivery of their promises to developing countries.
Although we’re not satisfied with the outcome of this year’s COP27, we’ve really enjoyed being a source of credible and objective information for you over the COP period. We hope you found the past two weeks to be as engaging and interesting as we did. Looking ahead, we certainly hope that the lessons learnt from COP27 will be applied when the world’s leaders gather at COP28 next year in Abu Dhabi, where we’ll be your ear to the ground once again!