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COP27 – what next?

COP27 – what next?
27 January 2023
Green & Good (ESG and Impact)
Planning Communications and Consultation
Public Affairs

After two weeks of intense negotiation in Sharm El Sheikh, COP27 closed its doors last week. The verdict has been somewhat mixed as to what COP27 achieved and it was certainly low on significant advances on the road to net zero and limiting global warming to around 1.5C.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres commented that: “Our planet is still in the emergency room. We need to drastically reduce emissions now and this is an issue this COP did not address.”

However, in the current geopolitical environment achieving global agreement on reducing emissions and phasing out fossil fuels was always a bold ask. COP27 did however make progress on loss and damage and the establishment of a global fund that will provide loss and damage funding for vulnerable countries that are impacted by climate disasters.

This matters because it addresses a key bone of contention between the Global North and Global South (i.e. the richer nations that have been responsible for around 80% of the carbon emission in the atmosphere and the developing nations that are most impacted by the effects of climate change). By securing this agreement it could in theory pave the way for breakthrough agreements on carbon reduction at future COPs, notably at COP28 in the UAE in November 2023.

Also notable was the landmark meeting at the fringes of COP27 between the US and China at which U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping agreed to ‘resume climate co-operation’. That again could pave the way for wider scale breakthroughs in the future.

Other notable developments was the role of President Macron of France who had an a ‘good’ COP, pushing his credentials as a power player and backing loss and damage action, including the plan pushed by the prime minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley, to establish a climate mitigation fund. This would provide low-interest, long term loans to climate adaption and grants for loss and damage in part funded by a levy on fossil fuel producers.

President Joe Biden was also present and visible at COP27, despite US mid-term elections and the G20 meeting in Bali which started halfway through COP27.

Rishi Sunak also reversed his earlier decision not to attend COP27 and the UK Government pledged, during the Autumn Statement to honour the climate reduction pledges made at COP26 including delivering a 68% reduction in emissions by 2030.

Optimistically, while COP27 may not have delivered significant progress on carbon reduction, it did erode barriers to agreement that have dogged COP negotiations for years, and in doing so it may make breakthrough agreements more possible in the future.

Against a backdrop of a global energy crisis, deep geopolitical tension and the War in Ukraine that is some progress, even if not enough to get us back on track to meet Paris goals of a 1.5C limit on global warming.

It increases the pressure for real progress at COP28 but may also provide room for compromise when we need it most.

This Thursday at 12.30pm the SEC Newgate COP27 team will discuss their views on the Conference and what it means next for the planet, politics and business.

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