COP27 will reveal commitment to achieving net zero targets

COP27

COP27 will be a key marker of the steps countries are willing to take to tackle climate change and their commitment to achieving agreed targets.

COP27 core themes explored over two weeks (6-18 Nov at Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt) will be finance; science, youth and future generations; decarbonisation; agriculture and adaptation; water, and gender; energy, and civil society; biodiversity, and finally ‘solution day’.

Alongside these, detailed negotiations will be ongoing on issues like Article 6 (carbon accounting) then during week two results of technical negotiations will be submitted to ministers to consider progress and compile closing declarations of what has been agreed.

G20 nations account for four fifths of global GDP and three quarters of world trade. With two-thirds of the planet’s population these 19 nations plus the European Union, between them are responsible for more than 75 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. So far, only 23 nations have submitted updated carbon-reduction NDCs ahead of the UN’s deadline to enable agreement on global warming forecasts.

Loss and damage will be a core focus of COP27 spurred by the increase in extreme weather events. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has declared that wealthier nations have a ‘moral responsibility’ to help with recovery following the flooding in Pakistan. Laurence Tubiana, one of the architects of the Paris Agreement, said the legitimacy of the UN process itself will be in question if there is a lack of progress at COP27. The G77 negotiating group, with China, have called for loss and damage’s inclusion on the formal COP27 agenda and Egypt has appointed Chile and Germany to co-ordinate discussions.

On the positive side, the world’s biggest emitters – China, India, the European Union and the US – are now spending huge sums of money on net zero transition having now recognised the economic benefits of doing so.

China is investing at a fast in low-carbon transition. The 26GW of offshore wind capacity they built in 2021 was more than was installed globally in the past five years. The first half of 2022 alone saw 55GW of new renewables in China, putting them on early track to hit a 2030 target of 1,020GW of installed capacity. The country’s CO2 emissions fell a record 8 per cent in the second quarter of this year, driven in part by the strong growth in renewable output.

India aims to produce half its electricity from renewables by 2030 and cut energy intensity of its economy by 45 per cent but says that it requires financial assistance from wealthier countries to achieve this.

The USA has signed its Inflation Reduction Act into law and committed $370bn to climate action with its overall climate action plans valued at $500bn. It has added 29GW of renewables to the US grid in the second half of 2022, cut coal capacity and imposed strict new charges on methane emissions from its oil and gas industry.

Australia has one of the highest levels of emissions per head of population of any country and has been slow to take major action on climate change. The new Labour government has committed to reducing emissions by 43 per cent by 2030 but it is still a long way short of what is needed for 1.5°C and the country continues to export fossil fuels.

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