COP27 is done and dusted for another year. Following our earlier breakdown of what we hoped to see from the conference, Lokesh Sangarya, Sustainability Co-Lead in our Water team, has summarised the various commitments the world hoped for out of COP27 and the actual outcomes.
Leading up COP27, the world watched with baited breath for global leaders to agree on stronger commitments to reduce emissions and limit the worst effects of climate change.
Previously, we looked at what the Conference of Parties (COP) is; the roles of Australia and New Zealand in previous COPs; the year leading up to COP27 and finally what to expect from the Conference this year in Sharm el-Sheikh. In this article we will summarise what commitments were made and where to next.
There were strong calls for three key outcomes from COP27:
- Commitments to stronger emission reduction targets
- Commitments to the amounts and timing of climate finance
- Outcome-driven conversations on 'Loss and damage'
How did they do?
As we’ve come to expect from past COPs, there were intense and lengthy negotiations amongst all Parties about the current and future state of international climate policy. Yet again negotiations endured, culminating in a 3am finish on the the final day - closing the second longest climate conference to date!
So, were these negotiations and late nights productive? The following summary considers whether or not negotiations and agreements met with expectation:
1. Commitments to stronger emission reduction targets:
The 2015 Paris Agreement ratified global commitments to keep temperature rise to well below 2oC and pursue efforts to limit to 1.5oC. However, the latest climate science shows that even limiting warming to 2oC is not enough. During the final week of COP27, the world’s leading nations pledged to limit warming to 1.5oC at the G20 Summit in Indonesia, setting the scene for negotiations in Sharm el-Sheik.
Limiting temperature increases to 1.5oC requires year-on-year reductions of 7.6% annually from 2020; 2021 however saw emissions rise to their highest on record. A key resolution introduced in COP27 was that emissions could not rise past 2025 but to the dismay of many, this was removed from the final text.
A big focus of COP27 was to reduce emissions linked to fossil fuel energy generation. In COP26 negotiations broke down over the 'phasing out' of coal power and the text was weakened to 'phasing down'. In COP27, there was a massive push to 'phase down' all fossil fuels, which was the subject of intense negotiating late into the final night. The 'phase-down' wording did not make the final text, but there was a provision agreed to boost 'low-emissions energy'.
While there were no concrete commitments, COP27 reinforced the 1.5oC temperature target as the northern star for climate policy.
2. Commitments to climate finance
We explored in the previous article the shortfalls of the $100 billion pledge from developed nations to support developing countries in the climate crisis. There were no concrete actions agreed on the near-term delivery timeframe of these funds at COP27, but the Parties agreed to set commitments in 2024 with no room for backsliding.
COP27 did see renewed calls to reform the Bretton Woods institutes, which include the World Bank and other publicly funded institutions. Arguments were made that these institutes, which were set up in the post-World War II setting, had not adapted to the modern world. Nor do they acknowledge the compounded effects of climate change on developing countries.
No concrete financial commitments to developing nations were made at COP27.
3. Outcome-driven conversations on 'Loss and damage'
"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."
While a new 'loss and damage' agreement is a major milestone, the details of how the fund will be set up, which countries contribute, and how much, is yet to be established.
Looking forward to COP28With a wide range of commitments made and some crucial ones missing, what will the world look forward to at COP28 in Dubai next year?
1. New climate goals with stronger projections
The projections leading into and immediately after COP27 estimate global temperature rise of 2.4oC - 2.6oC by the end of the century. While this is far above the desire to limit to 1.5oC, momentum is heading in the right direction. Pledges made in 2019 estimated temperature rise between 2.7oC - 3.1oC by the end of the century, while pledges made before the Paris Agreement had estimates of 4oC by 2100.
Of course, this does not mean we can ease efforts to drive down reductions, rather we must seize this time to redouble climate action efforts. There is some small measure of hope the world is acting on opportunities to live more sustainably; we must expect more ambitious targets next year.
2. First Global Stocktake
While national pledges are key to driving change, the true value lies within implementation. A key part of the Paris Agreement was a commitment by all countries to assess collective performance every five years – referred to as the 'Global Stocktake'. This came into effect in 2018, with the first Global Stocktake due in 2023. This will provide a clear picture of which actions have been taken and by whom, their effect on our climate and how ambitious future targets need to be.
Check out our newly released Sustainability Report for the 2021/22 financial year, or find out more about our climate change services and wider sustainability strategy.