COP27 Agenda

Cooperate or Perish says the UN Secretary

26 Conference of Parties (COP) happened so far, and for the first time 194 nations came to an agreement to include loss and damage funding on the official agenda of the UN Climate summit COP27. The conference is held from November 6 to 18 at Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt. The Egyptian president named this conference ‘COP of implementation’. And as the conference is drawing to an end, use of the right language to define the goals and responsibilities decides the final outcome of the two weeks of negotiations..

Egypt, like India, is a developing country. They want the implementation of the agendas as developed countries have moved away from the statements they made at COP26. To execute the implementation communication between the developed and the developing countries has to reach on the same page. 

According to reports bringing the Loss and Damage issue to the mainstream agenda was a herculean task. To make ‘loss and damage’ one of the issues on the agenda, informal negotiations took place in the early hours of Sunday the 6th of November.

For India ‘loss and damage funding’ is crucial. India dealt with many climate impacts this year. Forest fire, unprecedented heat waves causing reduction in wheat crop yield whereby the Government stopped wheat exports, and flood outburst in Uttarakhand. The crucial clearance of the issue will help to acknowledge and finance the damages and losses caused by climate change events, glacial retreats and sea level rise.

Even at COP26 in Glasgow, there was discussion on how to prevent and reduce the loss and damage due to Climate Impact. However the issue caught pace in COP27, as Egypt is in Africa, a continent vulnerable to Climate Change Disaster for no fault of theirs. Africa is the least carbon emitting continent but with the worst Climate Change events. The conclusive decision of the loss and damage funding will be taken mostly at the time of COP28 in Dubai.

The other issues on the agenda include adaptation funding. The funding for adaptation is used for adjusting to the ecosystem in case of climate change events that occurred or expected to happen. According to experts the adaptation funding is insufficient. And Loss an Damage funding has not been delivered or mobilized so far. 

The crucial issue on the table is Climate Finance. In 2009, the developed countries pledged to provide $100 billion of Climate Finance from 2020 every year till 2025 . But there is a gulf between the promise and the actualization. Thirteen years later, now the definition of Climate Finance needs clarity. There is a lack of common understanding on what has been given as Climate finance, according to experts. 

In Sharm el Sheikh Climate the main focus  was deciding on the new collective goal on finance beyond 2025, taking into account the promise made by the high emitters (Developed countries) to provide $100 billion yearly from 2020 to 2025, and discussing article 2.1(c) of Paris agreement. The article 2.1 (c) states “Making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development.”

As COP27 reaches towards the end, the developed countries want to include “high emitters” India and China for mitigation efforts. But these developing countries argue that only the ‘historical emitters’, which are the developed countries, need to pay. The developing nations include Countries in Africa, Arab countries, India, China, Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay. 

After the Glasgow Conference many developed Nations could not keep their promises due to war and electricity demands. Many countries reverted to coal usage to meet power demands in Europe. And the fossil fuel shortage loomed large due to the Ukraine war. Hence fossil fuel, one of the biggest carbon emission sources, did not find place in the main agenda of the Conference. 

India maintains that Coal, oil and gas all contribute to greenhouse gas. Hence there is no science in labeling some energy sources as ‘harmful’ and promoting others as ‘green and sustainable’. India and other developing countries depend mainly on coal. Therefore India says coal will be the main fuel source for  some more years. India also released its Long-Term Low Emission Development Strategy (LT-LED) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC). 

As there are two more days for the conference to end, the gap between the developed and developing countries is widening. Efforts are on at Sharm el Sheikh to keep the Paris Agreement intact. And to come out with a balanced cover decision. The rifts are widening, with both sides continuing differences on – which countries should contribute to Loss and Damage; and how to share responsibility of Mitigation Work Program (MWP).

New terminologies coined at the conference to be used in the cover text include “major polluters”, emerging economies’ and “parties with capacity”. As Egypt’s COP27 ambassador Wael Aboulmagd said to the press, ‘We will have to find the right language to accommodate differentiation.” This is because developed nations raised several objections around the terms ‘equity’ and ‘Common but Differentiated Responsibilities’ (CBDR). During the negotiation US asked the parties to explain what ‘equity’ meant. In the Paris agreement the term is not defined they say. Also the developed countries want the 20 ‘high emitters’ to address mitigation efforts. That includes India and China.

Many Nations resist mentioning global warming to 1.5°C to pre industrial level. Developing Nations, with a large population of poor, need to work for their welfare and they are not historical emitters. Hence they need to use more of the carbon budget to uplift their poor and the vulnerable. On the other hand the developed nations need to take steps to limit usage of carbon budgets. As developed countries reverted to coal usage for electricity, many countries did not want to mention limiting global warming to 1.5°C in this year’s negotiation. But, China, which is the top emitter, says they “do not resist mentioning the 1.5°C target in the official text of COP27″. 

To conclude, the Developed and Developing Nations have to reach a consensus about Climate Finance and Transfer of technologies. As the world plays the endgame, every party needs to decide how to act their role responsibly.

At the opening of the Conference, UN secretary Antonio Guterres said “It is the defining issue of age. It is the central challenge of our century. It is unacceptable, outrageous and self defeating to put it on the back burner. Indeed, Growing climate chaos is the reason behind many of today’s conflicts. The war in Ukraine has exposed the profound risks of our fossil fuel addiction. Today’s urgent crises cannot be an excuse for back sliding or greenwashing. If anything, they are reasons for greater urgency,stronger action and effective accountability……Humanity has a choice: cooperate or perish. It is either a climate solidarity pact- or a collective suicide pact.”

Article originally appeared in People’s Reporter, an ecumenical fortnightly. Written by Ancy Abraham and Published here with permission.

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