COP27, from 6-18 November in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, takes place amidst multiple global challenges: wars, rising food and energy prices, increasing debt levels, and worsening climate disasters, to name just a few.
In this context, momentum on climate action this year has stalled, and we are not on track to meeting the Paris Agreement goals. Governments at COP27 will need to agree on how they can step up action and fulfil the commitments they made at the COP26 Glasgow Summit last year.
The UN negotiations are also an opportunity to show that countries are prioritising cooperation on climate change, seeking new ways to collaborate to reduce emissions, address climate impacts, and unlock finance for climate action.
The key issues
Making balanced progress on all negotiating issues is likely only going to be possible if a group of developed and developing countries can unite to steer the talks towards high ambition, splitting the blockers. It’s been the path to success at many previous COPs.
· Addressing climate impacts. A deal on loss and damage finance is the top political fight. All eyes will be on Germany’s Jennifer Morgan and Chile’s Maisa Rojas as the pair of ministers appointed by the Egyptian Presidency to shepherd these negotiations. Climate vulnerable countries want a dedicated finance facility to address loss and damage, though actors like the US and EU remain hesitant. Developing countries will also be looking for more certainty from developed countries about how their pledge to double adaptation finance by 2025 will be fulfilled.
· Scaling up finance. The $100bn climate finance promise remains unmet, but far greater scales of finance are needed to properly resource climate action and development. Barbados PM Mia Mottley is expected to challenge leaders to engage on her Bridgetown Initiative for innovating and reforming the global financial system. Developed countries will be under pressure to show the money now, including through the Just Energy Transition Partnerships (JETPs), and to demonstrate the willingness for the bigger reforms needed outside the UNFCCC to make the global financial architecture fit for the challenges of today.
· Avoiding backsliding. There’s a real risk that some leaders use the COP stage to set out misguided visions of a fossil fuel pathway out of the energy crisis, instead of doubling down on climate action as the path to security and prosperity. Political signals from interventions by leaders, ministers and the ultimate COP outcomes will be critical in holding the line on agreements made at COP26, and reassuring the world that energy transitions away from fossil fuels are the direction of travel.
What to watch during COP27
7-8 Nov: World Leaders Summit – over 100 leaders are expected. Speeches are a chance to seize climate cooperation as a route to addressing pressing crises, and to inject political momentum into the talks. A win for Lula in Brazil’s election the week before could spur on ambition.
8 Nov: US Midterms – Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act has lessened the blow for climate action if Democrats lose Congress; but a higher likelihood of a Republican White House after the 2024 election could raise major questions about the USA’s longer-term commitment to the Paris Agreement.
15-16 Nov: G20 Leaders’ Summit – September’s G20 climate ministerial failed to agree on a joint communique amid heated disputes over language to limit global warming to 1.5°C, and upholding commitments at COP26 to phase down coal. A signal from Leaders that undermines Glasgow commitments and welcomes fossil fuel responses to the energy crisis could easily bleed into the COP negotiations and water down the ambition of the outcome.