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COP27: Budgeting For Climate Breakthroughs

Security personnel in front of COP27 signed during the closing ceremony of the climate summit in Egypt. [Photo Credit: REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany]
Security personnel in front of COP27 signed during the closing ceremony of the climate summit in Egypt. [Photo Credit: REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany]

COP27: Budgeting For Climate Breakthroughs

This year’s 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, also known as COP27, took place in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. The goal of this year's Summit was to continue building on the outcomes of COP26, and work to tackle the current global climate crisis. This conference continues to be the largest annual gathering aimed at taking action on climate change.

In attendance at the 2022 Conference were leaders from some of the largest carbon emitting countries, like the U.S. and China, as well as leaders from the countries most affected by climate change, such as Pakistan and the small island nation of Tuvalu. COP27 gave world leaders an opportunity to cooperate and collaborate on an important area of mutual interest, providing a much-needed break from ongoing geopolitical tensions.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi speaks during the 27th U.N. Climate Change Conference, which is hosted in his home nation of Egypt. [Photo Credit: UN Climate Change]

Each day of the Summit, which was held from November 6-18, focused on a different theme, from food security, innovative finance for climate and development, the future of energy, water security, and more. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi gave opening remarks, stating “I deeply believe that COP27 is an opportunity to showcase unity against an existential threat that we can only overcome through concerted action and effective implementation.” As the host nation, Egypt laid out its vision for a successfully negotiated outcome, as well as targets they hoped to achieve.

With that being said, let's dive into some of the key takeaways from the COP27 Conference:

  • - One of the biggest successes to come out of COP27 was the breakthrough agreement on a loss and damage fund, which will provide financial support for the vulnerable countries hit hardest by climate change. The agreement has been hailed as historic, and will require rich countries who have caused a bulk of climate change to pay into the fund. So far, the United States and European Union have agreed to financially contribute, and are urging China to do the same.
  • - Twenty-six countries and the European Union committed to joining the Forest and Climate Leaders Partnership, which aims to fulfill the COP26 commitment of reversing forest loss and land degradation by 2030. The partnership will be co-chaired by the U.S. and Ghana, and starting in 2023, will produce an annual Global Progress Report on its progress.
  • - A plan was announced to invest $3.1 billion over the next five years to create early-warning alarm systems for vulnerable countries that do not yet have them in place. The initiative, which is called Early Warnings for All, will mostly help developing countries who are impacted the most by climate change. Over half of the world does not have multi-hazard early warning systems that collect data or send emergency alerts during times of disaster.
  • - 150 countries, including China, signed a pledge to reduce methane pollution, which is an extremely potent greenhouse gas. The commitment includes a 30% cut in methane emissions by 2030. U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry called this agreement “an extraordinary step forward.”

  • - The final deal of COP27 reiterates the 2015 Paris climate agreement to prevent global warming from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to the 1800s, prior to the industrial revolution.

Still More Work To Be Done

While it is important to celebrate these successes, it is equally important to acknowledge how far we have to go in the fight against climate change. The Conference, which was advertised to be “the implementation COP”, went two days later than planned due to tense negotiations and disagreements from member countries.

A rally held outside of COP27 led by the Global Campaign to Demand Climate Justice. [Photo Credit: Hugo Duchesne/]

A major call of this year's Summit was made by the EU, small island nations, and even India, to begin the phase-down process of all fossil fuels. Scientists have found that a major contributor to climate change is pollution from human usage of oil, gas, and coal, and once global warming surpasses 1.5 degrees celsius, natural disasters become more deadly. However, negotiators could not come to an agreement on how to successfully phase out fossil fuels. Instead of an agreed upon plan, the final text of the Summit encourages "efforts towards the phasedown of unabated coal power and phase-out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies."

Two attendees at the COP27 Summit from Tuvalu, a small island nation that has been greatly impacted by climate change. [Photo Credit: Joseph Eid/AFP]

Small island nations made a big splash at this year's Conference, with leaders calling on larger nations to recognize that for their countries, climate change is not a far-off catastrophe; it’s already here. Kathy Jetn̄il-Kijiner, Climate Envoy for the Marshall Islands said, “I've already seen islands disappearing. These climate impacts are happening now." Simon Kofe, the Foreign Minister of Tuvalu, gave a powerful speech explaining that his country will soon be forced to become the world’s first “digital nation” if it wishes to survive climate change. Tuvalu leaders made it clear that they want to continue to be recognized as a country, even if their physical land disappears.

The Diplomatic Power of Climate Change

In the midst of COP27, Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden met at the G20 Summit in Bali, Indonesia, where they agreed to resume cooperation on climate change after several months of tense and stalled diplomatic relations. This was a significant step in the fight against climate change, as the two leaders head the world’s two largest emitters of greenhouse gasses. Manish Bapna, president and CEO of the environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council, said, “this unequivocal signal from the two largest economies to work together to address the climate crisis is more than welcome; it’s essential.”

The White House published a summary of the meeting stating, “President Biden underscored that the United States and China must work together to address transnational challenges – such as climate change.” The Chinese government followed the positive sentiment, explaining that both countries “agree to work together to promote the success of [Cop27]” and that climate change is one of their “common interests” and is “inseparable from the coordination and cooperation between China and the United States.”

Historically, climate change has been an area of successful collaboration and cooperation between the U.S. and China, but talks had been suspended following U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. With bilateral relations on climate change restored, both countries can resume the important work laid out at COP27, working alongside dozens of other nations to fight climate change, from the largest contributors, to the most affected.

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