The latest IPCC report, published in early April 2022, confirmed that, unless humanity puts in place rapid, deep and immediate cuts in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, we’ll exceed the limits to stay within 1.5C within the next ten years or so – well ahead of the 2100 milestone set by the Paris Agreement. With current commitments, temperatures will grow between 2.1 and 2.9°C - a real climate catastrophe, aggravated by the energy price crisis which, instead of accelerating the transition, is strengthening the use of fossil fuels. Back in February, another IPCC report showed that human-induced climate change is already affecting the lives of billions of people around the world – with people and ecosystems least able to cope being hardest hit.
Despite the multitude of irrefutable scientific proof and an increasing call from populations across the globe, the world leaders gathered in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, for the 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27) in November 2022 failed to provide a commensurate response to the climate change emergency. A COP that started with the worst conditions: presided over by a regime that tramples human rights and with the presence of over 600 fossil fuel lobbyists. At the opening, UN Secretary-General Guterres tried to shake up world leaders, reminding them: "We are on a highway towards climate hell, with our foot pressed on the accelerator".
SOLIDAR deeply regrets that the final text of COP27 does little to advance efforts to stay below 1.5C, even though the Egyptian presidency had promised an “implementation COP” that would see the pledges of the past give way to balanced action on tackling climate change and preparing for its effects. The text only encourages efforts to phase out coal and fails to include mentions of eliminating all fossil fuels, as would be urgent and necessary. This means allowing support for new fossil projects.
On limiting global warming, the paper acknowledges that the new and updated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) show a significant gap between the aggregate effect of the commitments made and the goal of the Paris Agreement. It is admitted that, according to estimates, the current NDCs will reduce global emissions in 2030 by 5-10%, while to limit global warming to 1.5°C the reduction in 2030 should be 45%. However, the goal of the Paris Agreement of containing the increase in the global average to well below 2°C was confirmed, and efforts to limit it to 1.5°C continued, but without taking any concrete steps.
The text also acknowledges that the food crisis exacerbates the impacts of climate change, particularly in developing countries, without however making any kind of commitment to reduce these impacts and ensure global food security. On the energy crisis, it recognizes the urgency of rapidly transforming energy systems to make them more secure, reliable and resilient, accelerating clean and fair transitions towards renewable energy in this decade, but then fails to make adequate commitments.
Regrettably, social justice was almost nowhere to be found at COP27. The final text merely says that states should respect human rights when they take actions to combat climate change. The discourse around a Just Transition to climate neutrality was mainly brought forward by trade unions and civil society organisations – also thanks to the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Just Transition pavilion. With regard to supporting a Just Transition in developing countries, the EU’s Executive Vice-President Timmermans announced a new Team Europe Initiative to provide over €1 billion of financing for helping Africa to adapt to climate change. During COP27 the EU also welcomed and endorsed South Africa's Just Energy Transition Investment Plan, and signed a new Just Energy Transition Partnership with Indonesia at the G20 in Bali.
One positive outcome of COP27 was the announcement of the decision to set up a new fund for “loss and damage” resulting from climate change, which marked the climax of a decades-long effort by small island states and other vulnerable nations. However, we regret that the final text limits itself to requesting an ad hoc work program on a new quantified collective climate goal, starting at a minimum of $100 billion a year by 2023. Developing countries have warned that the figure is paltry, considering that recent studies estimate between 6,000 and 11,000 billion dollars needed between now and 2030 to meet their committed emissions reduction goals.
Respect for human rights, climate action, equity and social justice, peace, are interconnected issues to which this COP failed to make a significant contribution. It is evident that we are still very far from the urgent and transformative action that is necessary to ensure humanity’s survival.
Co-authored with Simona Fabiani (CGIL, Italy)