Posted Nov 20, 2022 at 6:21 a.m.Updated Nov. 20, 2022, 9:17 a.m.
It’s an unexpected end to a world meeting that came close to a fiasco. Very early on Sunday morning, after more than thirty-four hours of particularly chaotic extensions, negotiators from nearly 200 nations represented at COP27 adopted a historic agreement.
Unthinkable a few months ago, countries have agreed to create a new fund dedicated to reparations for loss and damage, an expression which designates the irreversible damage caused by global warming in “particularly vulnerable” countries.
Claimed for 30 years
The question had been put for the first time and in extremis on the agenda of COP27. And it obsessed a good part of the negotiators for two weeks. The small islands, very exposed, claimed it for years, but the developed countries had shown themselves reluctant, again last year in Glasgow, to the idea of any specific facility.
“COP27 did what no other COP has done. This is something vulnerable countries have been calling for since the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 and part of official negotiations since COP19 in Warsaw in 2013,” said Mohamed Adow, Executive Director of Power Shift Africa, a influential observer. Proof, he says, that the COP process can deliver results.
Not without harm. The subject was deadlocked throughout COP27. Until the European Union created the surprise, late Thursday evening, with an unprecedented proposal to establish a financial mechanism dedicated to this increasingly dramatic problem. In return, the EU called on countries to be more ambitious in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. “Rather no agreement than a bad agreement”, had threatened the vice-president of the European Commission Frans Timmermans, assuring that the EU stood “ready to withdraw” for lack of progress in the talks.
Copy-pasted from COP26
In the end, in their joint declaration on which they had great difficulty in agreeing, the countries committed to a “rapid” reduction in emissions, but not to making additional efforts compared to what they had decided a year ago at COP26 in Scotland. A simple copy-and-paste of the Glasgow Pact, observers have criticized.
A “lack of ambition” on the objectives of reducing greenhouse gases, which the Minister for Energy Transition Agnès Pannier-Runacher “regrets”. In particular, Europe would have liked the need for emissions to peak by 2025 to be mentioned in the text, a peak necessary to respect the 1.5°C limit, “what the IPCC tells us”.
The world is still very far from meeting this objective. Just before the COP, the United Nations warned that as it stands, the States’ climate commitments lead to a rise in mercury of 2.4 degrees. To achieve this goal, IPCC experts have warned that global greenhouse gas emissions should peak “by 2025 at the latest and be reduced by 43% by 2030”. However, for the time being, they continue to increase.
Absence of fossils
This summit, considered by many as a “stepping stone” COP before COP28 which will take place at the end of 2023 in the United Arab Emirates and which will have to make a global assessment of the implementation of the Paris agreement, has therefore proved one of the most tense, where everyone has long camped on these positions. Because if the climate crisis has never been so acute and affects most countries today, the energy crisis has reshaped the debates.
Many expected it, but the final text makes no mention of phasing out fossil fuels. India, joined by the EU and the UK, had pushed the idea, and proposed that nations commit to “phasing out” all fossil fuels – not just coal (which the country is one of the biggest consumers), as decided in Glasgow last year. Without success.