Each year, the Conference of the Parties (“COP”) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change takes place in November. This year, the 27th summit was held in the Egyptian coastal city of Sharm el-Sheikh. Many experts agree that this year’s event saw modest progress towards addressing climate change, though most also insist that more action must take place outside of conference halls. Here are our key takeaways from the event.
1. The Loss & Damage Fund is a step forward
COP27 saw the development of a loss and damage fund, which aims to provide financing for nations vulnerable to the implications of climate change. The funding will help developing nations address drought, extreme storms, wildfires, and other weather events, and is to be provided by high-emissions nations responsible for the climate issues. Yet, it’s still unclear how much funding will materialize, especially with nations like the US falling short on previous climate financing goals. Moreover, the funding will take time to generate, and won’t provide an immediate fix for people who have lost their homes and businesses to recent devastation caused by climate change.
2. Issues with fossil fuels persist
Last year’s COP made it clear that fossil fuels must be phased out to achieve the ambitious goal of net zero by 2050. Yet, leaders have yet to reach a consensus on what that should mean for producing nations, leaving a large gap in which no meaningful action seems to be taking place. Additionally, the new loss and damage text tiptoes around the term “fossil fuels,” and instead references “low emission and renewable energy.” Critics say this could create a loophole that would allow nations to continue using fossil fuels that produce less emissions than others, such as gas instead of coal.
3. Carbon trading continues to lack transparency
Environmental advocates have been pushing for greater transparency surrounding carbon trades. Unfortunately, governments deferred an agreement that would address this issue, tabling the matter for next year’s conference. We’ve discussed the issues surrounding the lack of clarity with carbon credits in the past, including the loopholes that currently allow businesses to double dip and profit twice. Without clearer global regulation, this problem will likely persist — at least for the near future. On the upside, nations like the U.S., India, and Saudi Arabia are taking steps towards offsetting carbon emissions, such as the establishment of national carbon registries.
4. Methane savings are a source of hope
During COP27, five more nations joined the Global Methane Pledge, bringing the number of participating countries up to 151. Methane is responsible for a significant portion of global warming. Participants who commit to taking voluntary actions that would reduce methane emissions could make significant progress towards the overarching goal of keeping global warming within 1.5° C of pre-industrial levels.
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