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

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

As the world struggles to adjust to the harsh new reality of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the most recent instalment of the Sixth IPCC Report slipped out almost unnoticed.  And that is worrying, since the assessment in this section of the Report is even starker than previous assessments – noting in particular that in order to avoid global temperatures increasing by greater than 1.5 degrees C above preindustrial levels, the world needs to halve its emissions this decade: a reduction that the world does not currently appear to be remotely on course to do.

However, whilst the IPCC Report and the Russian invasion of Ukraine are not linked, Russian aggression in Ukraine may serve as a catalyst to speed up the European energy transition and accelerate its retreat from dependency on Russian gas and exposure to volatile international oil markets, which could in turn deliver a more rapid reduction in European emissions.  In the process, perhaps setting the world on a path to achieving an outcome that currently seems unattainable.

Continue Reading The IPCC and The Ukraine Crisis