The Sharm El-Sheikh Climate Change Conference took place last month in Egypt, commencing on 6 November 2022 and ending on the 18th. The conference builds up on pledges made in the COP26 at Glasgow last year and comprised of a series of events to build on future ambition.
This article summarizes the key takeaways from this year’s Climate Change Conference.
1. “Loss and Damage” Fund
Perhaps the most significant achievement at the COP27, the “loss and damage” fund is an official acknowledgement of the fact that poorer countries have been disproportionately struck by climate disasters and will need assistance in tackling such catastrophic events in the future. Around 200 countries signed the deal to make sure reparations are made to poorer countries for climate catastrophes that richer countries must be blamed for. This is a landmark agreement because poorer countries had been lobbying hard for years but failing to have it make the agenda. However, tragedies such as this year’s Pakistan floods made sure the issue could no longer be brushed under the carpet.
2. Zero Tolerance for Greenwashing
Greenwashing has become a scourge in recent years: companies claiming to pursue eco-friendly practices with language designed to deliberately mislead the public with loopholes wide enough to “drive a diesel truck through”, according to the UN Secretary General. In fact, research has shown that only around half of the companies that have promised net-zero have published plans to achieve the goal. This year’s Climate Conference slammed such practices, with the report making sure no company could claim to have net-zero goals if they continued to invest in any form in new fossil fuel supply or other environmentally egregious activities, such as deforestation.
3. The 1.5 °C Goal
Despite some opposition, the 1.5 °C goal from the Paris Agreement was kept alive. However, most disappointingly, the resolution to have emissions peak in 2025 was taken back. Additionally, there was a failure to bring forward new commitments on climate mitigation. With such inaction, the ambition of the Paris Agreement will soon slip out of our grasp, with debilitating consequences as seen around the world this very year.
4. Fossil Fuel Power
The fossil fuel lobby was back at the COP this year, boasting a number larger than last year, with 636 lobbyists from the oil and gas industries officially registered at the event. Their influence on the report was clear when no new commitments on the phasing out of fossil fuels were agreed on, nor was there any agreement on increased greenhouse gas cutting. While countries such as India did try to get a consensus on the phasing out of all fossil fuels, the goal was ultimately compromised in order to set up the “loss and damage” fund.
5. The Role of Agriculture
For the first time ever, a Climate Change Conference’s implementation plan acknowledged food and agriculture, agreeing to launch the “Food and Agriculture for Sustainable Transformation (FAST)” initiative. This was in response to the plea of small farmers, who wrote to world leaders at the COP27 to help them provide a more sustainable food system. Of the $240 B climate finance they need, only 1.7% was provided in 2018.
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