For two weeks this November, Sharm el-Sheikh hosted over 100 Heads of State and more than 35,000 participants for COP27, marking 30 years since the adoption of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Here’s three things we took away from the debates:
1. A win for extreme weather recovery
After years of resistance from the EU and the US - some of the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitters - this year’s climate summit saw a milestone decision to create a Loss and Damage fund to help vulnerable countries recover from extreme weather events. From the flood crisis in Pakistan to catastrophic fires in Algeria, countries felt devastating effects of extreme weather in 2022. While not causing extreme weather events directly, global warming makes these events more severe and frequent.
2. Fossil fuels still on the table
After a hard-fought effort by activists, attendees reaffirmed their commitment to limiting global warming to 1.5° above pre-industrial levels. But the language used leaves the door open for continued use of fossil fuels, calling for a transition to a “low-emission” rather than “zero-emission” energy mix. Many criticised the decision as catering too much to the over 600 fossil fuel lobbyists in attendance.
3. Call for World Bank to step up
Major players are demanding that David Malpass resign from his position as the president of the World Bank. Instated by former President Donald Trump, Malpass faced criticism for his history of climate denialism as well as accusations that he is contributing to ‘fossil fuel colonialism’ by funding exploitation of gas deposits in Africa. Despite operating independently from the UN, the World Bank drew attention in this year’s UN Climate Talks due to its key role as a financial supporter of global development initiatives and potential role in the future of sustainable development.
Bonus: Human rights draw focus
COP27 saw the first climate conference since the Human Rights Council recognised the right to a clean, healthy, sustainable environment in October 2021. Adopting this language on official records, this year’s UN climate conference is the first to directly recognise the new human right as a key consideration when taking action to mitigate climate change.