Climate change has seen 55 vulnerable nations lose one fifth of their wealth over the last twenty years as a result of the costs of climate impacts.
Climate change continues to impact countries worldwide while wealthy nations still have not delivered on their promise to deliver $100bn a year in climate finance.
The increasing costs of climate impacts along with the issue of a ‘finance facility’ to support developing nations afford losses and damage caused by climate impacts will be central to negotiations – and trust – at COP27 due to begin on November 6th in Sharm El-Sheikh when Egypt takes over the presidency from the UK.
Climate change conference COP26 concluded with the Glasgow Climate Pact which addressed some issues while acknowledging lack of progress on others, the Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit reports. It contained new commitments to end ‘inefficient’ fossil fuel subsidies’ and ‘phase down’ the use of coal. COP26 also achieved agreements between groups of nations to, amongst other things, slash methane emissions, stop deforestation, end financing for overseas fossil fuels, and speed the demise of the internal combustion engine. But few if any commitments have actually been delivered.
The world has changed dramatically since the COP26 summit in Glasgow. As many nations race to extricate themselves from ever-more expensive fossil fuels, and particularly Russian oil and gas, it becomes clear that solutions to the climate crisis offer solutions to the current inter-connected world crises.
The message to governments meeting in Sharm El-Sheikh is clear; we are running out of time to keep temperature rises to 1.5°C, climate impacts are worse than thought and adaptation insufficient, but we have most of the solutions we need to act in time and doing so is cheaper than not acting.
COP27 climate change agenda
The agenda at COP27 will focus on climate change and solutions, scene-setting for which has been provided by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports over the last year. Their sixth assessment report has updated the science of climate change, demonstrated that impacts are worse than expected and will outstrip our ability to adapt before long, but that we have the solutions we need to act in time. Progress in Egypt will be judged across four core areas:
Mitigation – cutting emissions to keep warming to 1.5°C. At COP26 India pledged net zero emissions by 2070 and has now set out climate change plans for this decade. The new Australian government has returned to the international climate table with stronger targets. And Egypt has set out their climate plan. In passing its biggest climate spending package ever the US gives credibility to the NDC they submitted on their return to the international stage under Biden.
Adaptation to climate impacts – The Paris Agreement commits to a ‘global goal on adaptation’ to climate change. COP26 established a two-year programme to define it. COP27 president-designate Sameh Shoukry will be expected to ensure this ‘Glasgow to Sharm El-Sheikh’ programme makes progress. That will include at least establishing shared understanding of the areas where action and funding for adapting to climate impacts are most needed.
Climate finance – Wealthy nations promised in 2009 to provide $100bn a year to developing nations by 2020. This has not been delivered and may not be until 2023 with OECD calculations showing the total some $17bn short. Detailed assessment of what is included already shows a prevalence of loans, not grants. The Glasgow Climate Pact “notes with deep regret” that the pledge has not been met and urges parties to accelerate their efforts.
Loss and damage caused by climate change – At UN meetings in June 2022, the Climate Vulnerable Forum showed that 55 nations most exposed to climate impacts have incurred losses costing more than $500bn already. A Christian Aid assessment suggested the average GDP hit for the most vulnerable countries could reach 19 per cent by 2050, and 64 per cent by 2100 (at 2.9°C of warming).
Despite the best efforts of developing nations and civil society at COP26, the only progress was commitment to further dialogue. Wealthy nations, facing unlimited financial liabilities long into the future, have slowed or actively blocked progress on halting climate change.