What Happened at COP27? Key outcomes of the Sharm el-Sheikh climate summit
COP27, or the 27th Conference of the Parties, was a global conference on climate change organised by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
This UN climate summit took place in Sharm el-Sheikh. It brought together representatives from countries worldwide to discuss, negotiate, and implement strategies to combat the climate crisis and adapt to its impacts.
The summit saw modest progress and some key outcomes. One achievement was securing a new fund to support victims of climate disasters in developing countries. However, it was tempered by a more general agreement, the “Sharm el-Sheikh implementation plan”, which excluded any mention of winding down fossil fuel usage.
Delegates from around the world came together. Despite the urgency to address global warming, agreements made at COP27 did not exceed modest, incremental progress. Nationally determined climate plans still fall short of the emissions reduction necessary to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Loss and damage were central to discussions, reflecting the growing impact of climate change on vulnerable populations. This step towards climate justice acknowledged the disproportionate burden carried by developing nations. Funding and support for those affected by climate disasters were among the conference’s highlights.
Key agreements and outcomes
Funding and financial assistance
COP27 saw a historic decision to establish and operationalise a loss and damage fund. This fund aims to help poorer nations address the impacts of climate change. However, specifics on finance goals and contributions remain to be negotiated.
Adaptation and resilience
Adaptation and resilience were crucial topics at the conference. Nations recognised the need to enhance their national climate plans and stressed the importance of addressing climate vulnerability. However, discussions on adaptation finance remain ongoing.
Mitigation and emission reductions
Countries showed only modest progress on emission reductions. The emissions gap between current plans and the 1.5°C target is significant. Moreover, fossil fuel interests were highly visible at COP27, with 636 delegates connected to the industry.
The outcome of COP27 highlighted the need for more decisive climate action. Further negotiations on funding, adaptation finance, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions are expected in future conferences.
The Sharm el-Sheikh implementation plan
The participants agreed on an overarching cover decision called the Sharm el-Sheikh implementation plan, which reuses the language on 1.5C and phasing down coal from last year’s Glasgow Climate Pact.
However, the plan failed to advance ambition on 1.5C and ignored growing calls for fossil fuel phaseout. Below is a summary of the implementation plan. For further analysis, I strongly recommend Carbon Brief’s extensive overview of COP27.
Strengthening 2030 climate targets
The plan requests countries that have not yet done so to revisit and strengthen their 2030 climate targets by the end of 2023, to align with the Paris Agreement.
The Sharm el-Sheikh implementation plan did mark several firsts:
- It mentioned food, rivers, nature-based solutions, tipping points and the right to a healthy environment for the first time.
- It also recognised the need for the financial system to address the global climate emergency and called on multilateral development banks and international financial institutions to reform their practices and priorities.
- It launched the ‘Sharm el-Sheikh dialogue’ to align financial flows with global temperature targets
- It also launched a ‘work programme on just transition’, including annual high-level ministerial roundtables, starting at COP28.
Calls for fossil fuel phaseout ignored
Disappointment from the EU
The European Union (EU) had called for a more ambitious “mitigation work programme” that went beyond the Glasgow baseline and backed the call from India for all fossil fuels to be phased down, not just coal. In the end, the EU reluctantly backed a deal despite threatening to walk away.
Challenges in the cover decision process
Carbon Brief highlights that the plan highlighted the issues of the presidency-led process. They state that it was not as clear or inclusive as some people would have liked. The process used by the Egyptian presidency also differed from the approach used by Britain during COP26.
Stances of Major Players
European Union and United States
The European Union (EU) and the United States supported initiatives to address climate initiatives. Leaders at COP27 like France’s President Emmanuel Macron expressed their backing for the efforts. However, new climate finance pledges were more limited than hoped for. Countries still await the fulfilment of previous pledges.
At COP27, information on China’s stances and commitments was not readily available. It’s essential to consider China’s role in future climate discussions, as they are a significant global player.
Vulnerable regions faced challenges, particularly regarding climate finance and the speed of deployment. The conference involved discussions on reforming development banks to provide more assistance to the developing world.
Tensions arose between rich polluting countries and poorer nations bearing the brunt of climate impacts. The question of who should pay the costs of global warming fuelled these tensions.
Summing up: what happened at COP27?
COP27 saw some progress, but agreements made did not exceed modest, incremental progress to address the effects of climate change. The outcome highlights the need for more decisive climate action.
The establishment of the loss and damage fund was a significant achievement, but the specifics on finance goals and contributions need to be negotiated. Despite calls from around 80 countries to phase out fossil fuels, they were ignored. Discussions on adaptation finance remain ongoing.