Are we on the right track to achieving net zero? 6 highlights from COP27

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Nana Terra

By Nana Terra
November 29, 2022

December 6, 2023

0 min read

Source: Shutterstock/3rdtimeluckystudio

The 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27), which took place in the Egyptian coastal city of Sharm el-Sheikh, from 6 to 20 November, achieved a significant breakthrough, concluding with a decision to establish and operationalise a loss and damage fund.

COP27 held high-level events, critical negotiations, and press conferences, hosting more than 100 Heads of State and Governments, over 35,000 participants and numerous pavilions showcasing climate action worldwide and across different sectors.

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The key themes were:

  • Adaptation- How can we protect lives and livelihoods everywhere as the climate changes?
  • Finance - The issues and the value of financing climate action.
  • Renewable Energy Sources - The benefits of renewable energy as a key to tackling the climate crisis.
  • Net zero - Why do we need to cut greenhouse gas emissions drastically now more than ever?
  • Loss and Damage - The destructive impacts of climate change on people’s lives.
  • Biodiversity - Protecting biodiversity is essential for limiting carbon emissions and adapting to climate impacts.

At the COP, commitments are announced, and global agreements are signed. From there, countries, companies and civil society organizations start implementing activities.

Therefore, a COP does not have an end in itself. It is a new beginning forward climate changes economically viable, fair and inclusive. In other words, leaving no one behind. This also brings to the table the conversation about the lack of women in country delegations raising concerns.

Top 6 highlights from COP 27 to watch:

Lack of female participation at the COP27 negotiations 

World leaders gathered at the COP27 summit and took the inaugural 'family photo'. There were 110 leaders present, but just seven were women.

According to the Women's Environment and Development Organisation (WEDO), this is one of the lowest concentrations of women seen at these UN climate summits - known as COPs. 

Analysis by the BBC found that less than 34 per cent of country negotiation staff were female. Some teams were more than 90 per cent male. The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are interconnected. SDG 5 (gender equality) is linked to SDG 7 (renewable energy), which in turn impacts SDG 13 (action against global climate change). 

We need a transition to a low-carbon economy with energy security for all.

Female participation in cuntry delegations_COP27 Blog 1200 x 900 (1)

Loss and damage funds

COP27 concluded with a historic decision to establish and mobilise a loss and damage fund. Developing countries made strong appeals for the establishment to compensate the countries that are the most vulnerable to climate disasters yet who have contributed little to the climate crisis.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in a video message issued from the conference venue in Egypt, underscoring that the voices of those on the frontlines of the climate crisis must be heard.

“This COP has taken an important step towards justice. I welcome the decision to establish a loss and damage fund and to operationalize it in the coming period.”

Launch of the first report of the High-Level Expert Group on the Net Zero Emissions Commitments of Non-State Entities.

The special report slammed greenwashing – the act of misleading the public to believe that a company or entity is doing more to protect the environment than it is – and weak net-zero pledges and provided a roadmap to bring integrity to net-zero commitments by industry, financial institutions, cities and regions and to support a global, equitable transition to a sustainable future.

Executive Action Plan for the Early Warnings for All

The UN announced the Executive Action Plan for the Early Warnings for All initiative, which calls for initial new targeted investments of $ 3.1 billion between 2023 and 2027, equivalent to a cost of just 50 cents per person per year.

Meanwhile, with the support of the UN Secretary-General, former US Vice-President and climate activist Al Gore presented a new independent inventory of greenhouse gas emissions created by the Climate TRACE Coalition. 

The tool combines satellite data and artificial intelligence to show the facility-level emissions of over 70,000 sites worldwide, including companies in China, the United States and India. This technology will allow leaders to identify the location and scope of carbon and methane emissions being released into the atmosphere. 

Power, road transport, steel, hydrogen, and agriculture

This is a plan to accelerate the decarbonisation of five major sectors – power, road transport, steel, hydrogen, and agriculture – presented by the COP27 Egyptian Presidency.

The Egyptian leadership also announced the launch of its Food and Agriculture for Sustainable Transformation initiative, or FAST, to improve the quantity and quality of climate finance contributions to transform agriculture and food systems by 2030.

This was the first COP to have a dedicated day for Agriculture, which contributes to a third of greenhouse emissions and should be a crucial part of the solution.

The combat against climate change continues

Mr Guterres reminded the world of the priorities regarding climate action, including the ambition for global emissions reduction and keeping alive the Paris Agreement’s limiting warming to 1.5 degree Celsius, and pulling humanity “back from the climate cliff”. 

“We need to drastically reduce emissions now – and this is an issue this COP did not address.”

He lamented, saying that the world still needs to make a giant leap in climate ambition and end its addiction to fossil fuels by investing “massively” in clean energies.

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