COP27 was held in Sharm-el-Sheikh, Egypt, 7–20 November. As at the 2021 COP26 in Glasgow, Canterbury Climate Action Partnership (CCAP) had official accreditation and between 14 and 18 November fielded a small delegation led by the CCAP chair. This included Dr Bala Chandramohan (UNA Canterbury), Nick Phillips (Eon/KBS) and Oliver Rieche (locally-based expert).
As in 2021, CCAP provided limited part-sponsorship. Prior to departure, the CCAP chair was interviewed about our participation on BBC Radio Kent with further interviews on both BBC and KMFM on return. I also sent a blog of key events I had observed for three consecutive days to board members and others.
Participants and CCAP participation
COP27 had some 33,000 participants including officials from international organisations, government negotiators, climate change activists, indigenous peoples’ representatives, local mayors, academics, business lobbyists and many more.
The restricted ‘blue zone’, to which CCAP had access on account of its official accreditation, included the plenary and other meeting rooms where the COP negotiations took place and a very large exhibition space with numerous pavilions from individual countries and organisations, most of which were holding non-stop events and discussions every day.
In consequence, our team of four was only able to sample a small number of all these events. Nonetheless there were enough to give us a flavour of the key COP themes and learn about interesting initiatives from around the world. There was also ample opportunity to network and to showcase the work of CCAP, including its recent climate action festival and awards.
Themes of the conference
Apart from the initial meetings of heads of government and subsequent formal negotiations, some of which our team were able to observe, the COP had specific themes for different days: finance, science/youth and future generations/resilience, decarbonisation/industry, adaptation/ agriculture/food systems/land, gender/water, civil society and action for climate empowerment/energy, biodiversity/ocean and coastal zones/transport and solutions/human settlements.
Being present for the second week of COP, our team was able to attend events relating to the last five themes and examples are provided in the four attached reports/blogs. We were also able to participate in the first ministerial meeting on urbanisation and climate change (17 November).
Assessment of the outcomes
In assessing the COP27 outcomes, it is clear that it did not achieve progress on COP26 in accelerating the move to secure the key goal of 1.5°C, and this is deeply unsatisfactory. According to the nationally determined contributions (NDCs) pledged, global temperatures are still set to rise by well over 2.0°C (even assuming all NDC commitments are met); a proposal to commit to have emissions peak by 2025 was not adopted.
Likewise, there was no progress on commitments to phase out all fossil fuels, which had been hoped for, and a vague – and potentially counter-productive – reference to boosting ‘low emissions energy’ which countries with newly discovered fossil fuel reserves, including from Africa, are interpreting as embracing gas (which has lower emissions than coal).
EU initiative on loss and damage
One important success, based on an EU initiative, was agreement to establish a ‘loss and damage’ fund to compensate developing countries to pay for climate-related damage. However, neither the modalities of the fund nor its size have yet been agreed and as the UN secretary general has stated, such a fund will be of little avail if whole islands disappear below the waves and much of Africa turns into a desert because global warming cannot be contained.
Outcomes in detail
More detailed COP outcomes included:
- High-level expert group on the net zero emissions commitments of non-state entities (with focus on greenwashing practices by the private sector)
- Executive action plan for the early warnings for all initiative (calls for $3.1bn 2023-2027 to set up global early warning system for climate disasters)
- New independent inventory of greenhouse gas emissions (by Climate TRACE Coalition)
- Master plan to accelerate decarbonisation (power, road transport, steel, hydrogen, agriculture)
- Food and agricultural for sustainable transformation initiative (FAST to improve finance to transform agriculture and food systems by 2030)
- Sharm El-Sheikh adaptation agenda
- Action on water adaptation and resilience
- African carbon market initiative
- Insurance adaptation acceleration campaign
- Global renewables alliance
- First movers coalition (cement and concrete commitment)
- Sustainable urban resilience for the next generation (buildings and housing, urban energy, urban waste and consumption, urban mobility, urban water).
Some progress at a local level
Above all, it was apparent that, despite the disappointing progress made by government negotiators and shown in NDC commitments, a great deal of real practical climate action was taking place at the local community level, not least the many mitigation and adaptation measures being pursued by mayors and local governments (with cities accounting for the bulk of greenhouse gas emissions).
In addition, many of those present highlighted action to ensure just transition and address the needs of less-well-off sections of the population. This means that if real progress is made at grassroots level – for example in Canterbury and other districts – there remains hope that climate targets could be met.
Impact of Russian ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine
It further needs recalling that COP27 was taking place in the context of the impact of the Ukraine war and the spiralling energy costs, and saw attempts by certain countries to water down the Glasgow commitments, which were thankfully prevented.
As in 2021, CCAP accreditation to COP provided an opportunity to learn from a wide range of global climate actions, share our own experiences, and be a part of the global movement to address climate change. It also provided valuable networking opportunities and has given CCAP additional status and media exposure, not least in Kent itself.