Words by Fatima Iftikhar
A major climate conference was held in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, in November 2022 and I had the opportunity to attend as an observer thanks to United Nations House Scotland. The conference provided me with an opportunity to meet some inspirational individuals as well as people from places that are directly affected by climate change.
It served as a platform for progress and issues needing to be tackled following COP26 and to reinforce commitments to combat climate change as the world economy still feels the effects of COVID-19 and the Ukrainian conflict. Global and European food and energy markets are in chaos. It was clear that COP27 needed to be about implementation, despite the unique global context that heightened the challenges for negotiators and decision-makers at this year's conference and, at the same time, provided an opportunity to demonstrate unity and cooperation when they were most necessary. Considering the increasingly ambitious commitments and components of these NDCs, all countries needed to enhance their NDC emissions targets and support them with robust plans, policies, and investments.
Climate and Adaptation Day session
Did it go well?
It was the last success delivered during the most significant conference that may have changed the tone from negative to positive. As a result, the world's most climate-vulnerable countries have access to crucial financing. Globally, the wealthier, more protected nations will provide funds to clean up the effects of climate change on the most vulnerable countries. It has been almost three decades since climate change was first sought. Despite constant pushback and lengthy negotiations, this is a significant milestone. Climate change hotspots in areas impacted by climate change will be able to rebuild their physical and social infrastructures with the funds it provides. Several details remain to be negotiated during and after COP28, including how and from whom the money will be received and in what timeframe.
Indigenous people from affected areas seek debt cancellation from developed countries
What it didn't accomplish
The COP27 had yet to commit to limiting global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2025, thereby missing out on a significant opportunity to reduce global warming. It has been stated by the UN that catastrophic climate-related impacts are likely to occur above this temperature. Still, many countries and delegates at COP27 tried to scrap the 1.5-degree target and replace it with something else. At the end of the negotiations, a resolution was removed to keep the target of limiting emissions by 2025 alive.
Session on Climate Change and its implication on women
In addition, the conference, which was supposed to deliver more stringent text regarding the phasing out of fossil fuels, particularly coal, failed to deliver the expected results. COP26 made a significant mistake when the document's wording was changed to 'phase down unabated coal' at the last minute. This leaves the door open for fossil fuels to be exploited worldwide, such as gas, which is marketed as a 'low emission' alternative to coal. In the final COP27 agreement, statements such as 'low-emission energy' are included.
While challenging to agree on such wording, especially given the position of countries looking to exploit their natural resources, the loose text around fossil fuel phase-out could be highly damaging to the hopes of limiting global emissions. The conference was said to be attended by more delegates and representatives with fossil fuel links than any other COP in history Fossil fuel lobbyists outnumber almost every national delegation at COP27, data shows | Euro news
Is climate action stagnating?
There is a little bit of everything in this issue. COP27's outcomes are more concerned with dealing with the consequences of climate change than with its underlying causes. Although the Global Loss and Damage Fund is an important step, more is needed if more is to be done to curb emissions. We might also need to change how COPs are run, with fewer attendees, a stronger focus on complex negotiations, and less opportunity for industry lobbying.
Electric Buses introduced in Sharm el Sheikh as part of Climate Conference
In addition to deploying significant capital and expertise, we must continue working with governments responsible for fostering an environment of investment for the Just Transition, ensuring security. As a young Climate Volunteer expressed, I wish the same: that the enthusiasm we felt at the conference continues in the years ahead, and we must continue to advocate for action to combat climate change and to set an example for others.
To learn more about the work of Fatima Iftikhar, click here.
To learn more about the work of UNA Glasgow, click here.
Elton, Charlotte . "Fossil Fuel Lobbyists Outnumber Almost Every National Delegation at COP27, Data Shows." Euro News, November 10, 2022. https://www.euronews.com/green/2022/11/10/fossil-fuel-lobbyists-outnumber-almost-every-national-delegation-at-cop27-data-shows