Rosie Mammatt – email@example.com
Thea Stevens – firstname.lastname@example.org
Sitting in the COPCAS studio in the University of Reading we were able to watch the numerous talks and panels taking place each day. This allowed us to tune into the different discussions surrounding topics from the role of civil society to the importance of biodiversity, giving us a unique insight into the proceedings of the conference. Through our team of people attending the conference, we were able to interview those who were participating in the negotiations, such as Robert Muthami, a climate and social justice advocate from Kenya. This gave us a gauge of what the atmosphere was like within the discussion and negotiation rooms. This left us with mixed emotions nearly 4000 miles away in Reading…
“Human actions are the cause of this problem, so human actions must be the solution”. These were the words spoken passionately by UN Secretary-General António Guterres during the World Leaders Summit on the opening day at COP27. Similarly rousing speeches followed from world leaders and delegates who highlighted the challenges their countries are facing due to the climate emergency. The tone was set as one of desperation.
A large focus this year was on loss and damage. Talking to some of the negotiators towards the middle of COP showed us the struggle which was occurring behind the scenes. However, this ended up as one of the more positive outcomes of COP27 as an agreement on the creation of a global “loss and damage” fund. This is a historic milestone, and something that the most vulnerable nations have been seeking for decades. This is great progress. However, it is the beginning of a long process which is going to have to unpick who puts money into the fund and who is eligible to get money out. So, there is progress, but it is predictably slow meaning the hopes of the most vulnerable nations should not be pinned on this shaky agreement.
There have also been some critical backwards steps from Glasgow, with a number of important statements being removed from the final text. Alok Sharma put it clearly in his closing remarks:
‘Emissions peaking before 2025, as the science tells us is necessary.
Not in this text.
Clear follow-through on the phase down of coal.
Not in this text.
A clear commitment to phase out all fossil fuels.
Not in this text.
And the energy text, weakened, in the final minutes.’
This shows a clear and frustrating reduction in ambition that was fought over in the last COP.
Boosting low emission energy was also agreed upon in the final text. Unfortunately, there is some ambiguity around what “low emission energy” refers too. One would hope that this means renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, hydroelectric, tidal or wave power, or even nuclear power. However, it could also mean coal power stations with carbon capture capabilities or gas power. The “dash for gas” is something that should not be encouraged, as it must not be forgotten that gas is still a fossil fuel. Many gas-rich countries, however, sent officials to COP27 hoping to strike lucrative gas deals. Ultimately, this is not a viable solution for these nations and certainly not the right solution for the climate.
The whole event was overshadowed by an issue surrounding the lack of freedom to speak or peacefully protest. People on the ground in Sharm El-Sheikh said that this ominous feeling permeated the event as a whole. News after the arrest of hundreds of peaceful protesters and the misconduct by the Egyptian police showed the extent of the human rights crisis. Protesters will hope for fairer treatment next year, but due to its location are likely to be left disappointed.
COPCAS has allowed us to understand the mechanisms behind the negotiations and has shown how long and hard they are to achieve. However, the lasting feelings of COP27 are mixed. Progress has been made but it is slow and some key victories from previous COPs have been watered down. It feels like this might be the end of the 1.5oC dream. These talks are critical for our future and we should be seeing ambition, and more importantly, action at this time.
See all the bogs written during COPCAS: