What are the key takeaways from COP27 climate summit in Egypt?

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A sign reading fossil fuels out is displayed during a demonstration at the COP27 UN Climate Summit

A sign reading “fossil fuels out” is displayed during a demonstration at the COP27 UN Climate Summit

Photo : AP

Sharm el-Sheikh: The annual UN climate summit came to a close this week, with nearly 200 nations negotiating about the future of global action on climate change. The event concluded with one major breakthrough and some other lukewarm commitments to the issue at hand. Earlier as the COP entered its second week, China’s President Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden had met in Indonesia for the G20 Summit. The heads of the world’s two largest greenhouse gas emitters had agreed to restart cooperation on climate change after a months-long hiatus due to tensions over Taiwan.

A climate justice fund

For the first time in 30 years, nations have now agreed to set up a fund to provide payouts to developing countries that suffer “loss and damage” from climate-driven storms, floods, droughts and wildfires. The measure was first suggested by Vanuatu back in 1991 and has since faced stiff resistance from rich governments.

Despite being the standout success of the talks, it will likely take several years to hammer out the details over how the fund will be run, including how the money will be dispersed and which countries are likely to be eligible.

1.5C temperature goal

The COP27 meet saw some countries try to renege on the temperature goals set during the 2015 Paris agreement – to keep the rise ‘well below 2C’ above pre-industrial levels, and to make efforts to limit the increase to 1.5C. While scientists have already indicated that a 2C rise is not safe, several countries made attempts to bypass the earlier resolution. While the bid failed, a resolution to cause emissions to peak by 2025 was taken out.

Gas and fossil fuels

The final COP27 deal drew criticism from some quarters for not doing more to rein in climate-damaging emissions, both by setting more ambitious national targets and by scaling back use of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas. While the deal text called for efforts to phase down use of unabated coal power and phase-out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, some countries had pushed to phase out, or at least phase down, all fossil fuels. But from the opening speeches to the gaveling of the final deal, the use of fossil fuels was affirmed for the near future.

Reforming the World Bank?

Many countries have now called for urgent changes to be made to the World Bank and other publicly funded financial instatutions. They contend that such organisations have failed to provide the funding needed to help poor countries cut their greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the impacts of the climate crisis. While no concrete decision was taken at the recent meeting, such reform could allow development banks to provide far more assistance to the relevant countries.

National agendas set the tone

The newly elected Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was greeted by roaring crowds as he declared “Brazil is back” in the global climate fight, and vowed to host COP30 in 2025 in the Amazon region. Brazil also joined Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of Congo in launching a partnership (negotiated over a decade) to cooperate on forest preservation. They are expected to press rich nations to pay for forest preservation. A landmark deal between countries such as the United States and Japan, and private investors was also struck to help Indonesia shift away from coal-fired power generation more quickly.

Meanwhile, some electricity-poor nations in Africa argued for their right to develop their natural gas reserves, even as they face increasing climate impacts such as drought.

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