The United Nations annual climate change conference—officially known as the 27th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (“UNFCCC”), or COP27 for short—held in Sharm el Sheik, Egypt, finally concluded early Sunday morning. COP27 was held amidst the ongoing Russian war in Ukraine and its consequent economic turmoil, as well as increasingly tumultuous global weather events over the past year. Against this challenging backdrop, COP27 was never going to be straightforward. But difficulties were compounded by divisions between the developing and developed worlds over the priorities that should form the focus of the Summit, most clearly manifested in tensions over the issue of “loss and damage.” Although COP27 will be viewed as historic for its creation of a fund to compensate countries most impacted by climate change, there were also lost opportunities to adopt more ambitious and accelerated climate mitigation commitments that will be needed given the dire scientific warnings about the rapid impact of climate change on the planet.
Continue Reading COP27: A Flawed Though StillConsequential Climate Summit

Negotiations over the text of the final Declaration appear to have not progressed significantly since yesterday. The issues holding up progress now are the same issues that had been identified at the outset as key: loss and damage; mitigation gaps (weak NDCs); the $100 billion in climate finance promised to developing countries from 2020; and the doubling of the proportion of the $100 billion going to adaptation projects. The dual Egyptian Foreign Minister and COP President called on delegates to find solutions—though normally the responsibility for moving text forward lies with the host country.  

Continue Reading Highlights from Cop 27: Solutions Day

COP 27 was electrified yesterday by the speech of President-elect Lula of Brazil. Promising to reverse the deforestation of the Amazon and commenting that Brazil is already a global agricultural giant without the need to clear any more rainforest, he called on wealthy nations to make good on their COP 15 pledge to set aside $100 billion per year for adaptation and demanded additional funding for loss and damage, noting that the countries least responsible for climate change were those currently suffering from it the most. He also underlined the importance of international partnerships, including the recent agreement between Brazil, Indonesia, and the Congo to work together on conservation.

Continue Reading Highlights from COP 27: Biodiversity Day

On November 15th, all eyes were on the G20 Summit where news that the meeting between Presidents Biden and Xi had been broadly positive–including instructions for officials to re-engage on climate change–along with the announcement of funding to help Indonesia move away from reliance on coal-fired energy, served as a welcome boost to the mood in Sharm.

Continue Reading Highlights from COP 27: Energy Day

COP27 was never going to be a ‘Big COP’ in the way that COP26 in Glasgow was.  It was not originally designed to be one of the five-year ratchet reviews of NDCs set out by the 2015 the Paris Agreement and there were no major new climate change texts due to be negotiated.  Sharm’s value is likely to be assessed, at least in part, on whether it effectively tees up important items for next year, including:

  • the Global Stocktake (the technical dialogue will conclude in June next year, and the political phase at COP28);
  • the Global Goal on Adaptation, due to conclude next year;
  • the New Collective Quantified Goal on climate finance, due to conclude in 2024; and
  • the increasingly important future discussions on loss and damage. 

However, COP27 remains an important waypoint – not least in how successful it eventually is in avoiding acrimonious debate and significant tensions over loss and damage.

Continue Reading COP 27: Week One Summary

After the opening two days of COP27 – which were focused on the High Level Segment (HLS) dedicated to Heads of State and Government – today, November 9, was the first day of the ‘main COP’ with the opening of negotiations on official texts and agreements. Reports are that the opening phases of the talks are positive. Appropriately, given tensions earlier this week over financing for loss and damage, today was billed as Finance Day.

Continue Reading Highlights from COP 27: Finance Day  

COP 27 began in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, yesterday. It begins inauspiciously, set against the global impacts of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the resulting food and energy insecurity and dramatic price rises which have pushed climate change down domestic political agendas across the world and increased demand for new sources of fossil fuel to reduce reliance on Russian gas.  By the same token, the Russian aggression creates a lever that presents COP 27 with a rare, perhaps unique, opportunity to accelerate the energy transition. 

Furthermore, since the effects of climate change are non-discriminatory, the need to tackle it is a genuine global need: a visionary take on COP 27 is that it could offer a ‘safe haven’ for international dialogue and collaboration where world leaders can find effective pathways forward on food, energy, nature and security. However, the augurs are not positive . . .

Billed as the ‘Implementation COP’ it was designed to require countries to improve their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) to reducing climate-change inducing emissions. However, the tussle over the agenda, which began at 1300 on Saturday and did not conclude until midday on Sunday, suggests that the alternative name for this COP – The African COP – is more appropriate and that the focus and key to its success lies elsewhere.

Continue Reading What to Expect from COP 27