Here’s what happened in the first week of the UN COP27 climate summit.
“COP27 must be remembered as the ‘Implementation COP’ — the one where we restore the grand bargain that is at the center of the Paris Agreement,” Sameh Shoukry, the minister of foreign affairs of Egypt, who was elected as the President of COP27, said at the opening ceremony of the global climate conference.
It cannot be yet another summit of promises or “blah blah blah” as Greta Thunberg once said. It needs to be one of action.
Held in Egypt’s seaside resort town, Sharm El-Sheikh, COP27 began on November 6 and will likely go on till November 19. From faulty wifi to overpriced food, the Egypt presidency has seemingly tried its best to make civil society participation as limited as possible. Even hotels are charging a “COP premium” demanding cash in hand during check-out.
Climate Action Network International gave Egypt the ironic ‘Fossil of the Day’ award for the best at being the worst.
Their press release addressed the blocked websites at the COP venue, the COP27 app that is allegedly spying on users, and the entry given to 636 fossil fuel lobbyists at COP27 – a 25 percent rise in attendance from last year. In fact, fossil fuel lobbyists have the largest delegation, apart from oil-producing Saudi Arabia.
“The influence of fossil fuel lobbyists is greater than frontline countries and communities. Delegations from African countries and indigenous communities are dwarfed by representatives of corporate interests directly at odds with the level of systemic change needed to slow the climate crisis,” Kick Big Polluters Out said.
‘Loss and damage’ continues to be the biggest issue at hand at COP27. Activists, policy experts, and the G77 and the AOSIS stand in unity demanding the establishment of a loss and damage finance facility to address unavoidable climate disasters, already ongoing in developing countries.
In a huge win for civil society, the issue of loss and damage was adopted to the official COP27 agenda. Parties agreed to feature loss and damage on the agenda only if it would focus on “cooperation and facilitation” and not “liability or compensation.
“Loss and Damage Finance agenda for COP27 was adopted, not without rich countries bullying poorer nations to agree to a language to protect historical polluters from compensation & liability. Nevertheless, a new chapter to fight for Loss and Damage Finance begins now!”, Harjeet Singh, Head of Global Political Strategy at Climate Action Network International tweeted.
But the battle still goes on.
“We call for a plan in 2023 on how the $100 billion is going to be met. Loss and Damage finance facility needs to be operationalized by 2024,” Nafkote Dabi, Climate Change Policy Lead at Oxfam International said in a press conference.
The hope is that a loss and damage finance facility will be established this year, the nitty-gritty will be finalized at the next COP in the UAE and it will be fully operational by COP29 in Australia.
Activists have also voiced concerns over this money being given out in loans rather than grants.
The issue of mitigation, or reducing carbon emissions, remains important but if the strong presence of the fossil fuel industry is not an indication of the success of the COP, the 400 hundred private jets that flew over the COP venue may paint a better picture. Developing countries need money to transition to renewable energy so they can work on reducing carbon emissions. This is a key issue for the African group of negotiators who want to see real money at the end of the COP.
Some also believe that the issue of loss and damage finance has left mitigation advocacy behind.
“Civil society is very interested in mitigation. The more mitigation you do, the less you have to do on adaptation and loss and damage. The emission gap needs to be closed,” said Fernanda Carvalho, Head of Policy on Climate and Energy at the World Wildlife Fund.
John Kery casually addressed the broken $100 billion per year for climate adaptation and mitigation. The US climate envoy said, “Everyone is upset that the $100 billion has not been fulfilled. “It’s at $90-something… when I got 90-something on a test at school I felt pretty good.”
However, according to the OECD’s statistics, it was at $83.3 billion in 2020. The US is responsible for the vast majority of that deficiency. Excluding money from the private sector, which governments take credit for, it was $68.3 billion. And according to Oxfam the real figure actually stands at about $21-24.5 billion, far from the amount needed by vulnerable communities.
He also reiterated the US official position, maintaining that the US will not establish a legal structure that is tied to liability and compensation i.e. a loss and damage finance facility.
In the brief three hours, he was there, President Joe Biden spoke about the United State’s climate commitments and achievements — the passing of the Inflation Reduction Act, which includes provisions committing hundreds of billions of dollars to address climate change.
He was greeted by a group of protesters chanting “Pay up! Pay up! Pay up for loss and damage!”
“It was important to send a message to the US administration,” Harjeet Singh said at the protest. “The US is the biggest historical emitter and the biggest blocker on the issue of loss and damage finance for the last 30 years.”