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COP27: only one outcome is satisfying, the others disappoint

From the draft to the final text: agreements made and goals missed at the 27th climate conference in Sharm el-Sheik

COP27 ended on the morning of Sunday 20 November, after a long night of negotiations. The final text is the result of further negotiation work on the 18 November draft, which is overall shorter and less ambitious than the previous one. It is considered rather unsatisfactory by the international community. While it is true that the “Loss and damage” fund to compensate countries already suffering the consequences of climate change has been approved, it is still unclear how much money it will have and who will have to put it in. Moreover, agreements on mitigating the effects of climate change are discouraging, as there is nothing on reducing the use of fossil fuels, nor on limiting the peak of polluting emissions by 2025. Even on the use of coal, no stricter restrictions have been established. The text is also very general about the commitment of countries to limit the temperature increase to within 1.5 degrees. The allocation target of 100 billion per year for climate finance proposed during COP15, which today should reach 5000 billion by 2030 as experts say, is disappointed once again.
To offer an exhaustive summary of the approved text, we have followed the updates provided by the Italian Climate Network. 

The first part of the text recognises climate change as a global concern of humanity. It also emphasises that actions to deal with it must include obligations on many rights: human rights, the right to health, the right to development and the rights of indigenous peoples, local communities, migrants, children, people with disabilities and people in vulnerable situations. And also, gender equality, women's empowerment and intergenerational equity. But unfortunately this is just a reference to the introduction of the Paris Agreement and it does not mention that Parties should take into account the effects of climate change on the most vulnerable populations. Furthermore, the note to the right to the highest standard of mental health, included on Thursday 17, is deleted, and the recognition as a human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment is removed.
The commitment to develop a roadmap to double adaptation funding by 2025 is also mentioned, highlighting that individual industrialised countries will have to update their progress information year by year. 
The text also confirmed the goal of the Paris Agreement to keep the global average temperature increase below 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels and to continue efforts to limit it to 1.5°C. 

It is right on this issue that the most backward steps are taken. Unlike the first draft, which recognised the urgency of accelerating a clean and just transition to renewable energy, in the final text there is just one reference to zero emissions by 2050 and only in the finance section. In addition, the text mention the coal phase-down and phase-out about fossil fuel subsidies - referring only to inefficient ones - according to national needs. This point, under these conditions, is in fact one of the weakest in the text.

Countries have not yet updated their NDCs (Nationally Determined Contributions, i.e. national plans put forward by governments around the world during COP21 to reduce climate-altering gas emissions) yet and they do not meet the goal of keeping the temperature increase within 1.5°C, which nevertheless remains confirmed. The COP27 presidency called for NDCs to be signed according to the Paris Agreement by 2023. 

Parties acknowledge that there is a large adaptation gap between current levels and what is needed to respond resiliently to the impacts of climate change. And yet, while suggesting the importance of adequate planning, there is no reference to the implementation of national adaptation plans. In fact, Italian Climate Network observers declare that “once again this year, achievements of the scientific community on the issue of climate change adaptation are overshadowed”.

Compared to the text of Thursday 17 November, some key points are missing (Italian Climate Network Delegation, 2022):
•    there is no specific reference to the need for Parties to have National Adaptation Plans, although many countries still do not have them (including Italy);
•    the reference to the usefulness of traditional, local and indigenous knowledge in the development of adequate and effective adaptation policies for territories has been removed.

New goals
Parties “recognise the importance” of the Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA) for the effective implementation of the Paris Agreement and reference is also made to the COP26 decision on the launch of the Glasgow - Sharm el-Sheikh work programme on the GGA. The document reports results achieved in the first year of the programme and expects its conclusion by COP28.
The “urgency” of having a clear global goal on adaptation is emphasised, so as to direct funding and tools for implementation from developed countries to countries in the south of the world. During COP26 in Glasgow, countries committed to submit updates of their national commitments within this COP, at least with a direction compatible with the +1.5°C scenario, but the commitment was only fulfilled by 33 out of almost 200 countries. The final decision of COP27 therefore again invites countries to reconfirm their commitments by submitting updates by the end of 2023.
The conclusion with three paragraphs on the need for warning systems for extreme weather events is interesting. In particular, it recalls the call made by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on World Meteorology Day 2022, “for all nations of the world to be protected by a warning system within the next five years, with the support of development partners and international financial institutions to implement this initiative”. That is because one third of the world, including 60% of Africa, has no access to climate warning systems and information services.
Loss and damage
Italian Climate Network observers point out that one step forward is the commitment of governments to consider food security as an integral part of human rights and to consider the climate crisis an aggravating cause of this right. On the other hand, there is a significant step backwards: unlike the first draft which guaranteed access to electricity to 758 million countries that still lack it, this instruction is deleted and there is no mention to the will to decarbonise the energy sector by 90% by 2050.

On loss and damage, on the other hand, the result is historic. Despite a first indecision of US and China, the EU proposal of 18 November was approved. So mitigation, loss and damage will be combined in a compensation fund for the most vulnerable countries of the global South, to be operational by COP28. This is a key proposal because it mobilises support for it from many parties. But the size of the fund has not been determined, nor the detailed economic responsibilities of individual countries – these decisions are postponed to COP28.

Youth and participation
Youth inclusion in decision-making processes is promoted – but the Youth4Climate initiative is not mentioned. For the first time the first Youth Delegate of the COP Presidency is appointed. "It is fundamental that in the final document there is a reference to young people, in order to create participatory mechanisms both within the negotiations and afterwards in the respective countries. Talking about funds and finding them, not only for lost and damaged, but also for social and cultural issues is crucial", says Roberta Bonacossa of Change for Planet, one of the youth voice representatives at COP27. 

One disappointing result is the failure to meet the target of mobilising USD 100 billion per year for climate finance – a commitment made at COP15 in Copenhagen. However, climate finance experts estimate that financing by the richest countries for the benefit of the most vulnerable developing countries should reach USD 1 trillion per year from 2025 to USD 5 trillion by 2030.
There is still the proposal for a reform of the global financial system, which is now clearly inadequate for the challenge of the climate crisis. A very important matter is the inclusion of the issue of aligning financial flows to the Paris targets, also according to the new ONU anti-greenwashing guidelines.

Despite the mention of the need to deal with the climate crisis and the loss of biodiversity in a synergetic manner, there is a total lack of a section designated exclusively to this topic and a reference to the upcoming COP15 on biodiversity. There is just a brief mention of Nature Based Solutions. Another setback concerns oceans, as they are indicated in the first drafts as topic of meetings and structured dialogues in 2023, but they were then deleted from the final version together with references to increased funding for REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) Projects.

If this COP leaves us disappointed in several issues, as decisions have been postponed and commitments (NDCs) not updated, it brings with it an outcome never achieved before: for the first time, emerging and vulnerable countries have had attention to their positions by the West. The new Loss and Damage represents the birth of a global compensation system shared, that is not imposed by the richest countries. 
Next step will be to find out how the fund will be developed and who will concretely contribute to its creation.

Italian Climate Network delegation. (2022, 11 18). COP27: A CHE PUNTO SIAMO ARRIVATI? Taken on 11 20, 2022 from
Italian Climate Network delegation. (2022, 11 20). LA COP AFRICANA SBLOCCA IL SISTEMA, MA MITIGAZIONE E FINANZA RIMANDATE AL 2023.  Taken on 11 20, 2022 from

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