COP27 Summary report, 6–20 November 2022

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Delegates gathered against an ominous backdrop of multiple crises: energy, cost of living, indebtedness, nature loss, and geopolitical tensions among major powers. But the need to act in the face of the climate crisis has never been clearer. Global average temperature rise is already 1.1°C. People around the world are experiencing the effects of climate change, from heatwaves and droughts to floods and superstorms. Only the wealthiest countries can (so far) cope. As Sherry Rehman, Minister of Climate Change, Pakistan, implored “Vulnerability shouldn’t be a death sentence.”

 

The need to protect the most vulnerable led to a historic decision at the Sharm El-Sheikh Climate Change Conference, after a hard political bargain was struck across significant areas of climate action. For the first time, countries agreed to recognize the need for finance to respond to loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change, and quickly established a fund and the necessary funding arrangements, with the details to be worked out over the coming year.

 

Other key elements of this package were the work programmes on urgently scaling up mitigation ambition and the Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA). On mitigation, developed and climate-vulnerable countries pushed for a strong outcome to ramp up efforts to reduce emissions before 2030, calling this “the critical decade.” In the end, countries agreed to a process that will explore topics, which are to be decided, and identify opportunities and gaps to reduce emissions.  Several countries expressed some worry that the mitigation outcome may not be enough to “keep 1.5°C alive.”

 

On the GGA, countries were more pleased with the outcome. Parties agreed to a long-term, structured effort that will help countries to collectively achieve the global adaptation goal. This framework will also review progress towards its achievement. Given the context-specific nature of adaptation, that countries will have to adapt to different climate impacts, this framework will generate information that can help to enable and capture progress. It will be reviewed before the second Global Stocktake in 2028.

 

Parties also adopted two overarching cover decisions, together called the Sharm El-Sheikh Implementation Plan. Both decisions address science, energy, mitigation, adaptation, loss and damage, finance, and pathways to a just transition. Some highlights include:

  • retaining the call to phase down unabated coal power and phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, as adopted in the 2021 Glasgow Climate Pact (Decisions 1/CP26 and 1/CMA.3);
  • urging parties that have not yet communicated new or updated nationally determined contributions (NDCs) or long-term low greenhouse gas (GHG) development strategies to do so by the next meeting;
  • establishing a work programme on just transition to discuss pathways to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement;
  • launching the Sharm El-Sheikh dialogue to enhance understanding of the scope of Article 2.1(c) of the Paris Agreement (ensuring finance flows are consistent with low-GHG, climate-resilient development), and its complementarity with Article 9 of the Paris Agreement (climate finance);
  • urging developed countries to provide enhanced support to assist developing countries to both mitigate and adapt, and encouraging other parties to provide or continue to provide such support voluntarily; and
  • calling for multilateral development bank reform, including in their practices and priorities and to define a new vision, operational models, channels, and instruments that are fit for adequately addressing the global climate emergency.

Other key outcomes from the meeting include:

  • progress towards operationalizing the Santiago Network on loss and damage through adopting its terms of reference, agreeing on its structure, and launching the selection process for its host Secretariat;
  • providing operational guidance for scaling up cooperative approaches under Paris Agreement Article 6.2;
  • enabling the full operationalization of the Article 6.4 market mechanism;
  • specifying modalities for the work programme under the Article 6.8 framework for non-market approaches; and
  • continuing the technical dialogue under the Global Stocktake.

 

 

The meeting also featured the Sharm El-Sheikh Implementation Summit, where over 100 Heads of State and Government attended. By the end of the meeting, which concluded on 20 November, more than 39 hours after the scheduled close, parties had adopted 60 decisions.

 

The Sharm El-Sheikh Climate Change Conference convened in Egypt from 6-20 November 2022. The Conference included the:

  • 27th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 27);
  • 4th meeting of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA 4);
  • 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 17);
  • 57th meeting of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI 57); and
  • 57th meeting of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA 57)

In total, 33,449 people attended, including 16,118 delegates from parties, 13,981 observers, and 3,350 members of the media.

 

A Brief History of the UNFCCC, the Kyoto Protocol, and the Paris Agreement

The international political response to climate change began with the 1992 adoption of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which sets out the basic legal framework and principles for international climate change cooperation with the aim of stabilizing atmospheric concentrations of GHGs to avoid “dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.” The Convention, which entered into force on 21 March 1994, has 198 parties.

 

To boost the effectiveness of the UNFCCC, the Kyoto Protocol was adopted in December 1997. It commits industrialized countries and countries in transition to a market economy to achieve quantified emissions reduction targets for a basket of six GHGs. The Kyoto Protocol entered into force on 16 February 2005 and has 192 parties. Its first commitment period took place from 2008 to 2012. The 2012 Doha Amendment established the second commitment period from 2013 to 2020. To date, 148 parties have ratified the Doha Amendment.

In December 2015, parties adopted the Paris Agreement. Under the terms of the Agreement, all countries will submit NDCs and review the aggregate progress on mitigation, adaptation, and means of implementation every five years through a Global Stocktake (GST). The Paris Agreement entered into force on 4 November 2016, and has 194 parties.

 

Recent Key Turning Points

Paris: The 2015 UN Climate Change Conference convened in Paris, France, culminating with the adoption of the Paris Agreement on 12 December. The Agreement includes the goal of limiting the global average temperature increase to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5°C. It also aims to increase parties’ ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and make financial flows consistent with a pathway towards low-GHG emissions and climate-resilient development. The Agreement should be implemented to reflect equity and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in light of different national circumstances.

 

Under the Paris Agreement, each party shall communicate, at five-year intervals, successively more ambitious NDCs. Under the common time frames decision adopted in 2021 in Glasgow, each NDC will last ten years, but will still be updated every five years. The Paris Agreement also includes a transparency framework and a process known as the GST. Beginning in 2023, parties will convene this process at five-year intervals to review collective progress on mitigation, adaptation, and means of implementation. The Agreement also includes provisions on adaptation, finance, technology, loss and damage, and compliance.

 

When adopting the Paris Agreement, parties launched the Paris Agreement Work Programme (PAWP) to develop the Agreement’s operational details. Parties also agreed on the need to mobilize stronger and more ambitious climate action by all parties and non-party stakeholders to achieve the Paris Agreement’s goals. Several non-party stakeholders made unilateral mitigation pledges in Paris, with more than 10,000 registered actions.

 

Marrakech: The UN Climate Change Conference in Marrakech took place from 7-18 November 2016 and included the first meeting of the CMA. Parties adopted several decisions related to the PAWP, including: work should conclude by 2018; the terms of reference for the Paris Committee on Capacity-building; and initiating a process to identify the information to be provided in accordance with Paris Agreement Article 9.5 (ex ante biennial finance communications by developed countries). Other decisions included approving the five-year workplan of the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage associated with Climate Change Impacts (WIM), enhancing the Technology Mechanism, and continuing and enhancing the Lima work programme on gender.

 

Fiji/Bonn: The Fiji/Bonn Climate Change Conference convened from 6-17 November 2017 in Bonn, Germany, under the COP Presidency of Fiji. The COP launched the Talanoa Dialogue, a facilitative dialogue to take stock of collective progress towards the Paris Agreement’s long-term goals. The COP also established the “Fiji Momentum for Implementation,” a decision giving prominence to pre-2020 implementation and ambition. Parties also provided guidance on the completion of the PAWP and decided that the Adaptation Fund shall serve the Paris Agreement, subject to decisions to be taken by CMA 1-3. Parties also further developed, or gave guidance to, the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform, the WIM Executive Committee (ExCom), the Standing Committee on Finance, and the Adaptation Fund.

 

Katowice: The Katowice Climate Change Conference convened from 2-14 December 2018 in Katowice, Poland, concluding a busy year that featured an additional negotiation session to advance work on the PAWP. Parties adopted the Katowice Climate Package, which finalized nearly all of the PAWP, including decisions to facilitate common interpretation and implementation of the Paris Agreement on the mitigation section of NDCs, adaptation communications, transparency framework, GST, and financial transparency, among others. Work on cooperative implementation, under Article 6 of the Agreement, was not concluded, and parties agreed to conclude this work in 2019. The COP was unable to agree on whether to “welcome” or “note” the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Special Report on 1.5°C of Global Warming.

 

Chile/Madrid: The Chile/Madrid Climate Change Conference convened from 2-17 December 2019 in Madrid, under the COP Presidency of Chile. Decisions were adopted on the review of the WIM and some finance-related issues, such as guidance to the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and Green Climate Fund (GCF). Parties also adopted the Chile/Madrid Time for Action. On many other issues, notably Article 6 and long-term finance, countries could not reach an agreement.

 

Intersessional Meetings: The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the normal meeting cycle in 2020. Online sessions were held in June and November 2020 to hear updates from the constituted bodies and hold mandated events. The Climate Ambition Summit in December 2020 served as a platform for countries to put forward new NDCs and net zero pledges. In June 2021, the Subsidiary Bodies met online for informal consultations. No decisions were taken during this period due to concerns about inclusivity. Views were captured in informal notes prepared by the Chairs.

 

Glasgow: The Glasgow Climate Change Conference convened from 31 October – 12 November 2021 and marked the return to formal negotiations after the COVID-19 pandemic-related interruption. Parties finalized the Paris Agreement rulebook, adopting guidelines, rules, and a work programme on Article 6, and agreeing on the format of reporting under the enhanced transparency framework. Parties adopted the Glasgow Climate Pact, a series of three overarching cover decisions which, for the first time, included a reference to phasing down unabated coal power and phasing out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies. They also agreed to work programmes on a global goal for adaptation, and on urgently scaling up mitigation; created the Glasgow Dialogue on loss and damage; established a process towards defining a new collective quantified goal on climate finance; and launched an annual dialogue on ocean-based climate action.

 

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