Tuesday, November 29, 2022
HomeCOP27 InsightsEmotions on the table on the last day of COP27

Emotions on the table on the last day of COP27

As usual, on the last day of COP there are always a lot of emotions on the table from all Parties and negotiating groups. Not that it is a good idea to channel them into the discussions. The deal at this COP is not only about the climate, but about the present extremely critical situation of world order. As it has already been stated, all negotiating groups would consider a “Glasgow+” approach to be appropriate for leaving COP27, meaning that their goal is to include all elements (and even more) of the Glasgow Climate Pact in the cover decision in a balanced fashion.

However, reaffirming the Glasgow Climate Pact and our pursuit to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees and welcoming the latest IPCC findings is still missing from this common will. Unfortunately, the discussions have become highly politicised and emotionally based, especially on the subject of loss and damage (L&D) financing. Emotions always stem from tensions. The real question is what these tensions are based on. Let us have an emotionally overheated answer to that.

We are in a race against time. We are losing. We live in a world of the triple planetary crisis (environmental pollution, biodiversity loss, climate crisis), which has been exacerbated by COVID-19, the energy price rise and the present geopolitical crisis, which resulted in a food crisis and high inflation. We also fail to work together as a multilateral global community. Increasingly, people are turning their backs on the values of trust and solidarity. At the same time, humanity’s welfare – and indeed, humanity’s very future – depends on solidarity and working together as a global family to achieve common goals.

We have to rebuild trust by reinvigorating multilateralism. Growing inequality within and among countries is jeopardising our efforts to ensure the future we want. Inequality leads to mistrust between countries and to people’s mistrust in institutions of governance. It also contributes to acts of xenophobia, racism, intolerance, hate speech and disinformation and wars, which acts we all condemn.

Therefore, it is of utmost importance to discuss the most confrontational issues in a calm atmosphere. We have to engage constructively, keeping our forward-looking approach intact and avoiding global negotiations to turn into a polarised blame game. The road towards a balanced cover decision in Sharm el-Sheikh is still vague on the very last day of discussions. We lack clarity on what constitutes success at COP27. What is the Big Fix that is responsive to the diversity of all our climate agenda points and solutions needed for a world beyond 1.5? The challenge for the upcoming 24 hours might thus be to find the right balance between keeping on the one hand focus and assessing progress against the long-term goals and on the other hand engaging on cross-cutting considerations like support, equity and just transitions.

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It is not possible to fix the current crisis and prevent new ones from using the same mentality and logic that led to their formation. Globally, we need to sign a totally new social contract to provide better public goods for all. We are closely related and only as strong as our weakest link. No country is safe until all countries are safe.

Frankly, there is no real breakdown of trust between the global North and South. On the contrary, there has been a conflict evolving between the developed countries and the big emitting developing countries, that is, the emerging economies with large emissions still in the Group of 77 and China (negotiating coalition of already 134 developing countries). But we are not in 1992 anymore, when international climate negotiations kicked off. We are in 2022 when emerging economies of developing countries contribute more to global emissions than developed countries (although not in terms of per capita emissions). Nevertheless, developing Parties want to restore the 1992 situation in the distribution of responsibilities.

A real balanced outcome of COP27 should include the creation of a space for parties to discuss how to make all finance flows support the objectives of the Paris Agreement (PA) and pathways towards just transitions. This stems from Article 2.1.c) of the PA, the implementation of which is in the interest of all Parties. We will not be able to stay within 1.5 degrees, achieve our adaptation goals or respond to L&D if this article is not on the agenda of the central multilateral process for the climate. Any L&D response fund to be set up to respond to the needs of the most vulnerable countries to the adverse effects of climate change should be one part of a mosaic of solutions responding to L&D, including looking into debt and reforming the Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs). This fund should receive financial inputs from all Parties in a position to do so, including through emerging economies and a variety of other sources, public and private, including innovative sources of finance.

In relation to anthropological climate change, basically, two things can and should be done: to reduce our impact on the global climate system (by reducing net emissions); and mitigating the harmful consequences of climate change. The latter does not only include the preparation for such consequences, but also the recovery after it, including actions of L&D. For this reason, it is professionally unreasonable to separate L&D from the concepts of preparedness+adaptation+resilience, on the other hand politically it is understandable from the point of view of vulnerable countries that they would like to see a dedicated fund for it.

We have to Build Back Better and Greener. There is political momentum now. We need to leave Sharm el-Sheikh with a decision of peaking global emissions before 2025 and urging all Parties to urgently increase their efforts in this critical decade with a view to closing the remaining mitigation gap to pathways consistent with 1.5 degrees, as the window of opportunity is closing. Parties should revisit and strengthen the 2030 targets in their nationally determined contributions, pursue and accelerate the phase-down of unabated coal power as soon as possible and enhance the implementation of renewable energy sources to enable 1.5°C compatible pathways. We also need to reaffirm the call to reduce non-carbon dioxide greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, including methane by urging the reduction of global methane emissions by at least 30 per cent by 2030 relative to 2020 levels.

On the very last day Parties should leave their emotions behind and quickly shift the discussions from incremental to systematic and from procedural to being more substantive. We shall not be judged by the goals and road we set, but by the time we take to reach our goals.

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