COP27 – Highlights from the first week

The 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, more commonly referred to as Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC, or COP27, will be the 27th United Nations Climate Change conference, to be held from 6 to 18 November 2022 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. At COP27, countries will come together to act towards achieving the world’s collective climate goals as agreed upon under the Paris Agreement and the Convention.

In a series of blogs across November on COP27, Boglarka looks at the highlights from the first week.

COP27 builds on the outcomes of COP26 to deliver actions on issues tackling climate emergencies. The growing energy crisis, increased levels of greenhouse gas concentration and extreme weather events globally set challenging times for this year’s conference.

This meeting gives a chance for leaders to address once again global commitments on climate change, but it will also give the opportunity to address the current geopolitical challenges, the land war in Europe, the diplomatic issues between US and China, increasing inflation and energy crisis might be holding back the progress on climate actions.

Hopes are high this year and it remains a question whether COP27 can help to improve the Climate Agenda significantly.

Our round-up will bring you the key COP27 updates from this week’s discussions.

Who is attending COP27?

Rishi Sunak is attending the event from the UK whilst King Charles III will not be going to be present. World leaders including Emmanuel Macron, Joe Biden, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, the new Italian PM Giorgia Meloni, Indian Prime Minister Modi and Lula from Brazil will also be attending the conference. However, Greta Thurnberg will not attend this year’s summit as she notably disapproves of Egypt’s human rights records.

‘Humanity has a choice: cooperate or perish. We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot on the accelerator.’ UN Secretary-General António Guterres

Climate change and its financial impact on countries: ‘loss and damage’ fund

Developing countries have been reluctant on this topic however, the loss and damage fund will be the centre of the discussion this year. The 2022 State of the Global Impact Report (by the UN World Meteorological Organisation) stated at the conference that the previous eight years have been the warmest on record and the greenhouse gas concentration has been rising. It was noted at the meeting that the current international finance flowing to developing countries was approximately 10 times below what was needed.

Developing countries are contributing the least to climate change, paying a heavy price and now seeking financial support towards their damages. Countries that have knowingly contributed most to climate change should pay poorer countries for recovery from disasters. One of the clearest examples is Pakistan: the country’s heatwave and the worst floods of its history ever have damaged the country and its people, yet the country is only responsible for less than 1% of the emissions. Many countries like Pakistan and island nations are in a similar situation and suffering from the impacts of climate change. Unfortunately, the developing world is not prepared to protect itself from climate disasters and the responsibility of the developed world is to protect and support them.

So far, only five European countries: Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Austria and Scotland have committed to funding the loss and damage fund mechanism.

The Expert Group Report – Greenwashing commitments

‘Using bogus “net-zero” pledges to cover up massive fossil fuel expansion is reprehensible. It is rank deception. This toxic cover-up could push our world over the climate cliff. The sham must end.’ UN Secretary-General António Guterres

At COP26 in Glasgow, UN Secretary-General António Guterres announced that he would set up a group of 17 experts. The first report of their intense work provides clarity in four key areas: (i) environmental integrity, (ii) credibility, (iii) accountability and (iv) the role of governments. The High-Level Expert Group’s report heavily focuses on greenwashing (the act of misleading stakeholders that a business is doing more to tackle climate issues or protect the environment than it is) and net-zero commitments. The UN Secretary also stated that governments need to ensure that voluntary initiatives become a new normal and solving the climate crisis requires strong political leadership.

‘Right now, the planet cannot afford delays, excuses, or more greenwashing,’ said former Canadian Minister Catherine Mckenna, chairman of the High-Level Expert Group

There might be immediate gains from appearing as a sustainable business, but greenwashing presents multiple long-term risks for both society and organisations. In recent years, corporate greenwashing has gotten out of control, and we are surrounded by it. Businesses now must take sustainability seriously; corporate greenwashing could be the next risk for many businesses towards real progress.

Fashion – Industry target consultation set to define holistic targets

The UN launched a fashion sector consultation. A number of the biggest environmental certification schemes for fashion brands are not fit for purpose. To achieve more sustainable performance and establish a route towards a positive fashion industry the Fashion Industry Target Consultation was announced by the Global Fashion Agenda (GFA) and the UN Environment Programme. This initiative will be led by GFA and it will be a multi-stakeholder-based project, inviting various stakeholders including brands, manufacturers, NGOs and policymakers.

Fashion is powerful in bringing people together but unfortunately, it is on track to miss climate targets, is slower in switching to sustainable materials and is still not transparent enough on labour practices in its supply chains. There is hope that actions will turn the situation around.

Low-carbon technologies

WTO’s World Trade Report 2022 said advancing low-carbon technologies would be the most realistic way to create emission cuts without reducing living standards in wealthier countries. It would also protect the development prospects in poorer countries.

Commitments in the UK

The UK announces a major new package of climate support, energy transition and climate finance at the conference. The package includes green tech innovation and clean energy investments with Kenya and Egypt. The UK also added a new Forest and Climate Leaders’ Partnership and confirmed more than £150m to protect rainforests and habitats including Congo Basin and Amazon.

The UK and US will also launch a Green Shipping Corridor Task Force that aims to unite experts in the sector to unlock cleantech innovations to decarbonise shipping.

Over the next week, the conference will be trying to bring the world closer to dealing with climate-related issues.

Boglarka Radi

Boglarka is a Doctoral Student at London South Bank University in Corporate Governance and Business Ethics and an associate member of The Chartered Governance Institute of UK & Ireland.

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