COP27 was once again a mixed bag, with some positive headline steps taken, but plenty of devil left in the detail around implementation and the usual criticisms that as a forum, it is not doing enough to tackle the route causes of climate change.
Some of the key takeaways from COP27 were:
The loss and damage fund
Perhaps the largest milestone was the agreement for new funding arrangements for loss and damage. This agreement is intended to help those nations that have incurred significant financial costs as a consequence of extreme weather. In particular, it aims to help those nations that have not benefitted from industrialisation to the extent of other nations but which have nonetheless suffered the effects of climate change. For example, Pakistan faces around $30 billion in costs following floods in the country in 2022.
While the agreement in principle of this fund is considered to be a huge milestone, there continue to be uncertainties surrounding its implementation. It remains to be seen how the funds will be made available and which claims on the fund will be deemed to be suitable.
Fossil fuels and the 1.5C limit
A resolution to cause emissions to peak by 2025 was removed although the contested 1.5C limit was retained. The cover text continued to fail to adequately address fossil fuels and did not commit to phasing out all fossil fuels, which is a necessary step in achieving sustainability goals and keeping the temperature increase below 1.5C. No final agreement was reached in relation to fossil fuels.
This has led to some criticism that COP27, as with its predecessors, continues to retain a focus on managing the impact of climate change, while doing little to actually tackle its causes.
In addition to the continuing focus on reducing emissions, for the first time, the main agreement covered decisions on ‘nature-based solutions’.
Nature-based solutions are actions to protect, sustainably manage, or restore natural ecosystems, that address societal challenges such as climate change, human health, food and water security, and disaster risk reduction effectively and adaptively, simultaneously providing human well-being and biodiversity benefits: these being actions that protect the environment.
This agreement demonstrates that there is a common understanding that efforts should be made to protect biodiversity, alongside measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.