We pick out the positive moments of the recent COP27 climate conference in Egypt and look forward to the COP15 Biodiversity Summit.
For many of the world’s environmental campaigners, global organisations, conservationists, NGOs, charities, academics, and press, this year’s COP27 climate conference offered a chance for action, an opportunity for world leaders to gather and agree on firm resolutions to reverse the increase in carbon emissions and global temperature rise.
However, two weeks after the conference opened on November 6, there was a general feeling of disappointment and frustration as delegates packed their bags and left the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. Many felt that the event was a failure in terms of reducing carbon dioxide, with many countries trying to pull out of the decision taken at COP26 in Glasgow to keep temperature increases to 1.5ºC, and the final text regarded as weak, without any significant progress made.
“Our planet is still in the emergency room,” said António Guterres, Secretary General of the UN. “We need to drastically reduce emissions now – and this is an issue this COP did not address. The world still needs a giant leap on climate ambition.”
Amid the tension and disappointment of the final deal, there were a few positive pieces of news at the conference. It was agreed by over 200 countries that a global fund for “loss and damage” was to be set up, which would provide much-needed financial assistance to countries directly affected by climate disasters. Since many smaller countries had been seeking some form of assistance for over 30 years, this was seen as a victory, especially following Pakistan’s record floods in September.
“This is not about accepting charity,” said Sherry Rehman, Climate Change Minister of Pakistan. “This is a down payment on investment in our futures and in climate justice.”
The other bright point was the appearance of new Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who addressed a crowd of supporters in between meeting the world’s most prominent leaders. As the crowd chanted “Olé, olé, olé, ola, Lula, Lula!”, the President outlined his vision for Brazil’s threatened rainforest.
“There is no climate security for the world without a protected Amazon. We will do whatever it takes to have zero deforestation and the degradation of our biomes.”
UN Biodiversity Summit
Those disappointed by the outcomes of COP27 will now be looking forward to the COP15 UN Biodiversity Summit. Held in Montreal from 7-19 December, COP15 will be the nature equivalent of COP27, with governments from around the world expected to agree on targets to stop the destruction of natural habitats.
It’s hoped that this year’s Biodiversity Summit will result in a resolution on the same ambitious scale as the Paris agreement to limit global warming to 1.5ºC. Experts agree that without protecting and restoring ecosystems, halting temperature rises and their inevitable impacts on the world would be virtually impossible.
“To have a 50% chance of achieving 1.5ºC and thus limiting tipping point risks, global greenhouse gas emissions must be cut by half by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050,” said Johan Rockström, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. “Critically, these pathways rely on the continuing capacity of nature to operate as a carbon sink and to buffer against the worst impacts of climate change – 1.5C is not a goal, it is a biophysical limit. Nature is one of the best climate solutions for remaining within that limit.”