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COP27 Report

by John Lang and Ben Bartle, KiC Convenors


COP27 took three small steps forward and a big one backwards. The first step forward was the formal emergence of Loss & Damage as the fourth multilateral pillar of tackling climate change, joining Mitigation, Adaptation and Climate Finance. Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, said as much: “A small step towards climate justice.”

The second was the UN’s clear articulation of what all global entities bar nations — so regions, cities, businesses etc — ought to be doing to accelerate the transition to net zero emissions by mid-century. The ‘High Level Expert Group’, which comprised New Zealand’s own Rod Carr, instructed that the phasing out of fossil fuels and alignment on lobbying and advocacy were not just nice-to-haves. John’s latest explainer infographic summarises all 10 recommendations.


Another small step forward was a growing recognition that reform of the broader financial system architecture is required for scaling climate finance, particularly for developing countries. That need and options for reform were articulated in the Bridgetown Initiative (introduced by PM Mia Mottley), which aims to address immediate financial concerns and increase vulnerable countries’ resilience to shocks. The Agenda outlines how developed countries can exercise influence to push multilateral development banks (MDBs) as well as the International Monetary Fund to free up an additional USD 2 Trillion for climate and development finance. The ‘Financing Climate Action’ report (jointly commissioned by the COP Presidencies and the UN High-Level Climate Champions and outlined in the COP27 cover decision) also outlined how investments in climate action would go far to building a sustainable economy and how the benefits outweigh upfront costs.


The trouble is that these granny steps were accompanied by an about turn on Mitigation — at the end of the day, the more that Mitigation is ignored, the more the eventual bill will be for Adaptation and Loss & Damage.


There was no improvement on emissions reductions in the approved text, apart from the now hollow pledge to “stay below 1.5°C”. No explicit commitment to phase down fossil fuels, as many were requesting, appeared. The IPCC 1.5°C report in 2018 was crystal clear: emissions need to be cut roughly 50% by 2030 to avoid dangerous heating. Emissions are, according to the UN, anticipated to grow by 10% by 2030. As we look towards COP28 in the U.A.E. (the sixth biggest oil exporter in the world) the big question is whether this year’s Global Stocktake, the system of collective peer pressure baked into the Paris Agreement, will brandish any teeth. We need Jaws.


 

Kiwis in Climate at COP


Expertly orchestrated by Tessa Vincent, KiC hosted a dinner on the banks of the Red Sea at Sultan Gardens during the second week.


There was plenty of food for thought, especially as it came just an hour after Climate Action Network presented New Zealand with a COP27 Fossil of the Day for supporting two further years of discussion on the Loss & Damage facility (somewhat harsh, we thought, given Aotearoa had just stumped up $210m for Loss & Damage, joining only Scotland and Denmark to do so).


KiC highlights across the week included: Wendy Miles hosting an event on carbon pricing after the release of an International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) report on the matter; Georgina Beasley hosting on how the law supports, rather than inhibits, a net zero future; David Tong releasing a report Investing in Disaster showing that new Big Oil and Gas’ drilling plans approved through 2025 could exhaust 17% of the global carbon budget for 1.5°C; John Lang co-hosting a press conference on the current state of net zero target setting by non-state entities, the full analysis of which can be read here: Recommendations and Current Realities.

KIC member Georgina Beasley hosting an event on on how the law supports, rather than inhibits, a net zero future

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