36 hours after the end of COP27, held in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, a deal was finally reached between nations. The main success that came out from COP27 was the development of a global ‘loss and damage’ fund that could be used by less developed countries who are severely affected by natural disasters exacerbated by the climate crisis. Along the way there were a number of attempts to water down language and commitments made during COP26 by those wanting to slow down progress with varying success.
The ‘loss and damage’ fund is designed to help those countries who have had the smallest contribution to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change but experience natural disasters that are shown to have been exacerbated by the climate crisis; the flooding in Pakistan earlier this year is a prime example of one of these events. Per capita, Pakistan’s emissions are about 0.9 tonnes of CO2 (as of 2019) putting them at a similar output to Tuvalu and Papua New Guinea. In comparison, the USA stands around 15 times higher at 14.7 tonnes per capita. Their contribution to climate change is minuscule in comparison to more developed countries, yet the floods are estimated to have cost Pakistan $40billion in damages.
This is something that developing countries have been fighting for for a number of years now. Those that feel they are unfairly affected by climate-related disasters can often spend more mitigating, adapting to and rebuilding from climate-related natural disasters despite contributing so little to global emissions.
It Wasn’t All Great Though…
On the other hand, there were a number of attempts by countries to water down promises made last year at COP26 and lower their nationally determined contributions to tackling the climate emergency. In 2015 when an agreement was struck in Paris the goal was to limit warming to 2℃ with the aim of 1.5℃. In recent years with emissions not dropping anywhere near as much as needed, that aim of 1.5℃ has been dropped entirely.
There was hope that the language on fossil fuels would have also changed. Much of Europe is phasing out coal power and, in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, also trying to move away from natural gas that many are still so reliant on. In a move led by India, there was hope that there would be a further commitment to phase out fossil fuels more widely but unfortunately this never materialised.
Generally speaking, there was little more to shout about at COP27. Despite the success of the ‘loss and damage’ fund, so much of the language was watered down from COP26 (which also wasn’t seen as much of a success) and the complete abandonment of the 1.5℃ working limit is a very depressing outcome from talk over the last two weeks. The lack of desire to push the limits on what can be done to tackle the climate emergency is worrying as the urgency required increases. With what seemed to be a mixed result at COP27, should it be seen as a success or failure?