Broken promises are all too common in the UN-led climate negotiations.
Now at their 27th annual summit, this time hosted by Egypt and held in Sharm-el-Sheikh. At last year’s COP26 in Glasgow, it was agreed that all countries – parties in UN lingo – were to present new and tougher nationally determined contributions (NDCs) by now. Out of 197 parties, not even 30 have done so, and most of them without strengthening their targets. Rather than to “phase down” subsidies to fossil fuels, as agreed upon at COP26, they have increased as a way to reduce energy prices for households and industries. The agreement to reach 100 billion USD per year in international climate financing from 2020 has never been met. And most critically: the Paris Agreement’s temperature target is becoming very hard to reach. “Keep 1.5 alive” was the mantra of COP26, but many researchers no longer see this as realistic.
For COP27 to be judged successful – and to prove activists like Greta Thunberg wrong in her call for a boycott – it needs to deliver on three accounts:
Credible emissions reductions. Recent months have shown how the climate is already changing, with devastating flooding in Pakistan, fires in Australia and hurricanes in America. This increases the pressure for urgent action, in line with the IPCC estimatesthat emissions must fall by 45% by 2030 compared with 2010 levels and reach net zero by mid-century. Next year’s COP is a stocktaking year, so this year the world needs to agree on what is to be measured and achieved.
Fulfilled financing pledge. Figures for international climate funding are not up to date, but most likely they are decreasing as countries face a more challenging economy outlook. If developing countries do not believe that we will reach the promised USD 100 billion per year by 2023, as promised in last year’s COP, they may see little reason to start delivering on their NDC-promises – which also to a large degree are dependent on funding. This also has implications for the long-term climate funding target, which has to be much larger since the needs are increasing.
Leadership. In these trying times, there is an urgent demand for countries to step up and lead the way. Businesses have to a much larger extent done so, but the COP:s are country-driven. We all hope for a renewed climate alliance between the world’s two biggest economies and emitters, China and the US, but both tensions on Taiwan and the US mid-term elections render it close to wishful thinking. The EU increasingly sees the climate as its opportunity to be relevant, with its pledge to become the world’s first climate neutral region with a 55 % emissions reduction 1990-2030. Small countries like Sweden have in the past been important role-models for climate financing; if they backtrack, the whole system loses credibility. Countries suffering the most from climate-induced disasters such as Pakistan, Bangladesh and Australia with its new government in place, bring a much-needed sense of urgency to the negotiations. Last but not least, all eyes are on the Egypt chairmanship – which balance will it strike between catering to business-as-usual interests in the Arab world, and the need for this to be the Implementation COP?
COPs are supposed to last two working weeks, ending next Friday. It often takes a day or two more than that, which is fine if we find substantial agreement, such as in COP21 in Paris, but not if we remain in deadlock, as in COP25 in Madrid – the longest in history. So to all delegates: Take the time you need, but deliver. This summit must be the Implementation COP.
Highlights at COP
7/11 12.15: Opening ceremony Sharm el-Sheikh Climate Implementation Summit. National statements from 14.45-18.30 approx, following the list of speakers. At around 4-6 PM the heads of state or prime ministers from Saudi Arabia, Germany, Spain, Netherlands, Sweden, Italy, Finland, United Kingdom, speak. See full daily agenda here (change date in browser for every day)
8th 10.30: Continuation of National Statements. EU at around 13.15, ending with video message from Ukraine (China, India, Russia and United States are not on the list)
8/11 13.00: IPCC on adaptation needs
9/11: Finance Day: Focus on the financial commitments of COP26, innovative financing solutions, round table of finance ministers. Green Zone opens for exhibitions etc.
10/11: Science Day: 20222 harvest of IPCC reports, Stockholm+50 conclusions, UNDRR conference on disaster management,
10/11: Youth&Future Generations Day (also). To ensure that young voices are heard.
11/11: Decarbonization Day. Technologies to reduce climate impact in industrial sectors, solutions
12/11: Adaptation & Agriculture Day. The IPCC Working Group on Adaptation toAdaptations, Food Safety and Waste Reduction in the Food Chain is discussed. Loss&Damage is handled.
14/11: Gender Day. The day will highlight the role of women in climate adaptation
14/11: Water Day. Sustainable water use, droughts, cross-border water cooperation, early flood warning systems, etc.
15/11: Ace & Civil Society Day: Dialogue with civil society, with a dedicated platform to discuss challenges and solutions.
15/11: Energy Day: All parts of the energy shift, with a particular focus on just transition, green hydrogen, renewable energy and smart grids.
16/11: Biodiversity Day: Nature and ecosystem-based solutions, how the climate affects the oceans, biodiversity, endangered species.
17/11: Solutions Day. Focus on solutions involving multiple sectors, including greener finance, sustainable cities and resilient infrastructure.
18/11: COP officially ends (prel).