HomeEnergy & SustainabilityWhat’s next after COP 27?
By Economy Editor
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November 21, 2022 9:33 am

What’s next after COP 27?

"Fund for loss and damage"and "rapid" reduction of emissions
COP 27
COP 27 negotiations

Economy Editor

After over two weeks of discussions and disagreements, poor and developing countries most affected by climate change, impacted by rich countries, emerged from  COP 27 with an agreement that can be described as historic, to say the least, following the approval to establish of a “fund for losses and damages” incurred.

But this unprecedented measure does not mean that the war is won on that end. Rather, there is a long road ahead, post the conference which also approved a “rapid” reduction in greenhouse emissions but without setting new targets, much to the chagrin of many.

The question that arises today is strong: what comes after COP27?

Fund “Loss and Damage”

 

The conference, which brought together most of the world’s leaders and officials, and was organized by the United Nations in Sharm el-Sheikh, decided to establish a fund to compensate for the climate damage. This issue was not already on the agenda, despite efforts by developing countries to include it many years ago in previous conferences, but failed to do so as first-world countries rejected the proposal.

Developing and poor countries, especially those on the African continent, contribute very little to climate change, so they have been demanding a specific and permanent financial mechanism to compensate for the “losses and damages” they incur, which are already estimated in the tens of billions of dollars.

But advanced countries are the main culprits, being responsible for greenhouse gas emissions over the years, yet they fear being held legally responsible for their actions.

Hence, the approval in the final statement stipulating the establishment of the “loss and damage” fund is a positive point recorded for developing and poor countries in that it “broke taboos”.

It can simply be described as “historic” after the difficulties that accompanied his birth, which necessitated the extension of the final leaders’ meeting for an additional time that lasted until Sunday morning.

Developing countries formed a united front and rallied behind a proposal put forward by the “77+China” group, which includes more than 130 countries.

There were also many behind-the-scenes deliberations, with information on drafts and counter-drafts published without the distribution of concrete texts.

The United States, the world’s second-largest polluter, has remained very secretive, leaving Europeans to take charge of the confrontation. The European Union eventually agreed to the principle of establishing a special fund.

The negotiations almost failed, until the last minute, with developed countries stressing China’s position in this mechanism. In other words: do you have to be a shareholder or beneficiary? Hence, developed countries stressed the need to explicitly refer to the IMF’s orientation to the “most vulnerable countries.”

The agreement was eventually reached at a compromise meeting after a shift in the position of small island states that are very threatened by the effects of climate change.

The agreement provides for the formation of a special committee to decide on operational details by the next COP28 in 12 months in Dubai.

Now that this agreement has been approved, the battle will not end with the approval of the Fund in Sharm el-Sheikh, but the actual battle will begin over who will pay the money and which country will receive it, which is not specified in the agreement. And that’s where the challenge starts today.

“Rapid” emission reduction

 

The conference also adopted a final declaration urging “rapid” reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and reaffirming the target of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, but without setting new targets compared to last year’s COP26 in Glasgow.

That upset U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who lamented that the conference had failed to develop a plan to “drastically reduce emissions.”

“Our planet is still in the emergency department. “We need to drastically reduce emissions now and that’s an issue that this climate conference hasn’t addressed.”

The European Union also expressed its disappointment. European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans told the conference’s closing session: “What we have is not enough as a step forward. It does not bring additional efforts from major polluters to further reduce and accelerate their emissions,” he said, adding: “We are disappointed that this has not been achieved.”

The text on emission reductions has been the subject of intense debate. Many countries denounced what they saw as a step in keeping the subject of targets that were set during previous conferences, in particular keeping “alive” the goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to the pre-industrial revolution.

The current commitments by different countries do not at all allow them to achieve the goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. According to the United Nations, it would best-case limit warming to 2.4 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, but at the current pace of emissions, temperatures could rise by 2.8 degrees Celsius, a catastrophic level. With warming around 1.2°C so far, the catastrophic repercussions of climate change have increased.

In the final declaration of the Conference, States reaffirmed an earlier decision to phase out coal. However, oil and gas are not mentioned in the document.

China and the United States

 

After the curtain came down on the conference, many questions are being raised about the relationship between China and the United States, which are the two largest emitters.

The relationship has been marred by so much tension that Beijing has suspended negotiations with Washington on combating climate change.

Beijing has been demanding a return for its cooperation on the climate issue, urging Washington to stop condemning its policies towards Hong Kong and back away from public support for Taiwan.

At the climate conference, there were meetings between the heads of the delegations of the two countries, and direct cooperation between them is expected to continue after the conference, as announced by China’s chief climate negotiator, Xie Zhinhua, after meeting his US counterpart John Kerry.