Was COP27 A Step Towards Climate Justice?

After an anti-climatic two weeks, the 27th UN Conference on Climate Change has officially ended. 
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Photo: Marie Jacquemin / Greenpeace

After an anti-climatic two weeks, the 27th UN Conference on Climate Change has officially ended. 

Was it a success?

After a weak second week, battling the polluting interests of the record high fossil fuel industry representatives in attendance, negotiations went into overtime through Saturday night, with the dash to a finish line resulting in the last minute establishment of the Loss & Damage facility fund early on Sunday morning, officially closing the climate talks. This fund was desperately needed to begin addressing the climate impacts already affected communities and countries around the world, and represents a high point in an otherwise disappointing COP. 

Although the fund is a victory for climate justice, an agreement on an urgently needed fossil fuel phase out did not materialise and resulted in yet another year of lack of accountability for polluters. A critical number of countries did, however, call and rally for fossil fuels to be addressed in this year’s final agreement and this will only increase pressure at COP28 next year to finally end the era of fossil fuels.
What was decided?

COP27 was billed as an ‘implementation COP’ and the ‘Africa COP’ but little was put on the table to actually implement and even less support for the African nations on the frontlines of the climate crisis. The long overdue loss and damage fund was indeed a success but politics got in the way of achieving impacting progress in realising 1.5C targets agreed in Paris.

Governments had pledged to come to COP27 with strengthened national climate plans that will limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Those pledges went unmet, despite some encouraging initiatives earlier in the week, and Sharm el-Sheikh may be remembered as the moment when leaders gave up on limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Despite what did and did not end up in the final agreement at COP27, meaningful climate action will only continue to become more urgent than ever. 

What’s next for climate action globally?

The new climate deal is a long way from the action we need now. Moving forward into discussion of the details of the Fund, ensuring that the countries and corporations most responsible for the climate crisis make the biggest contribution, is vital. 

But climate justice will only be served when there is new and additional support and finance for climate vulnerable communities not just distributed for loss and damage, but for adaptation and mitigation too. 

COP28 will pick up again next year in the United Arab Emirates, where activists and civil society will face similar challenges they fought through in Egypt. The people power that secured the Loss and Damage success will continue to push for renewed action to expose climate action blockers, bolder policies to end dependencies on fossil fuels, boost renewables and support a just transition to a zero carbon future. 

But tackling climate change and promoting climate justice is not a zero sum game. It’s not about winners and losers. Either we will make progress on all fronts or we all lose. The planet will not compromise. 

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