The United Nations for the second consecutive year accredited NewsClick Nigeria (www.newsclickng.com) as media delegate for the annual Conference of Parties (COP 27) that held in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt from Sunday, November 6 to Friday, November 18 2022.
The 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, more commonly referred to as Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), or COP27 was the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference.
NewsClick Nigeria got its first accreditation in 2021 for COP 26 which held in Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom, between 31 October and 12 November 2021, under the Co-Presidency of the United Kingdom and Italy.
The back-to-back accreditation of NewsClick Nigeria to for the prestigious global conference is in recognition of the medium’s devotion and commitment to actions and initiatives that promote a climate-resilient and zero-carbon world.
COP27 was a critical summit for global climate action. To have a chance of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees, global emissions must halve by 2030 and reach ‘net-zero’ by 2050.
NewsClick Nigeria, among other very select few media organisations in the world, joined over 30,000 delegates and more than 100 world leaders to advance issues on global climate at Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.
NewsClick Nigeria is a development-focused digital newspaper dedicated to serving stories primed to engender social change in Nigeria and sub-Sahara Africa using facts, qualitative data analysis and open investigative techniques.
Our five takeaways from COP 27
The recently concluded COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt follows the last one in Glasgow a year ago and is tagged the “African COP” because of a number of Africa related agenda issues debated. Major outcomes of COP27 include;
1. Establishing a dedicated fund for loss and damage
COP27 closed with a breakthrough agreement to provide loss and damage funding for vulnerable countries hit hard by floods, droughts and other climate disasters.
This was widely lauded as an historic decision. Why? Because for the first time, countries recognized the need for finance to respond to loss and damage associated with the catastrophic effects of climate change, and agreed to the establishing of a fund and the necessary funding arrangements.
Although the details will need to be hammered out over the coming year – who should pay into the fund, where this money will come from and which countries will benefit – it’s “an important step towards justice,” said the UN Secretary-General.
A ‘transitional committee’ will make recommendations on how to operationalize both the new funding arrangements and the fund for consideration and adoption at COP28 next year. The first meeting of the transitional committee is expected to take place before the end of March 2023.
“This outcome moves us forward,” said Simon Stiell, UN Climate Change Executive Secretary. “We have determined a way forward on a decades-long conversation on funding for loss and damage – deliberating over how we address the impacts on communities whose lives and livelihoods have been ruined by the very worst impacts of climate change.”
2. Maintaining a clear intention to keep 1.5°C within reach
The world is in a critical decade for climate action. This is not hyperbole – the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says limiting warming to around 1.5°C requires global greenhouse gas emissions to peak before 2025 at the latest, and be reduced by 43% by 2030. That’s seven short years from now.
However, the world is currently off course to keep 1.5°C within reach. A stark report from UN Climate Change shows implementation of current pledges by national governments puts the world on track for a 2.5°C warmer world by the end of the century.
At COP27, countries reaffirmed their commitment to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.
That means the global economy must “mitigate” climate change – in other words, we must reduce or prevent the emission of greenhouse gases to get us to where science says we need to be by 2030. In line with that, a mitigation work programme was established in Sharm el-Sheikh, aimed at urgently scaling up mitigation ambition and implementation. The work programme will start immediately and continue until 2026 when there will be a review to consider its extension.
At COP27, governments were also requested to once again revisit and strengthen the 2030 targets in their national climate plans by the end of 2023, as well as accelerate efforts towards the phasedown of unabated coal power and phase-out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies. Governments stressed the importance of a clean energy mix, including low-emission and renewable energy as part of diversifying energy sources and systems.
So what should we keep an eye on in 2023? Countries will be expected to come to the table with stronger and more ambitious climate plans than they did in 2022. These plans will be submitted to the UN Climate Change secretariat throughout 2023. Toward the end of next year, the secretariat will analyze the plans to see how closely (or not) those plans keep the 1.5°C limit in reach.
Also critical to meeting the temperature limit is the first global stocktake, which held its second technical dialogue at COP27. The stocktake is where countries and non-Party stakeholders come together to discuss where they are collectively making progress towards meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement – and where they’re not.
“The global stocktake is an ambition exercise. It’s an accountability exercise. It’s an acceleration exercise,” said Stiell. “It’s an exercise that is intended to make sure every Party is holding up their end of the bargain, knows where they need to go next and how rapidly they need to move to fulfill the goals of the Paris Agreement.”
These discussions are a key component towards the goal to limit global warming to 1.5°C. At COP28, the key findings of the stocktake process will be synthesized and presented, and their implications discussed and considered, ultimately resulting in stronger and more ambitious climate plans from national governments.
3. Holding businesses and institutions to account
This new phase of implementation also means a new focus on accountability when it comes to the commitments made by sectors, businesses and institutions.
“There is absolutely no point putting ourselves through all that we’ve just gone through if we’re going to participate in an exercise of collective amnesia the moment the cameras move on,” said Stiell, who promised a new focus on accountability during his opening speech at COP27.
The transparency of commitments from businesses and institutions will be a priority of UN Climate Change in 2023. The UN Secretary-General asked UN Climate Change to come up with a plan early next year on how to ensure transparency and accountability with non-state actors.
UN Climate Change has a public platform – the Global Climate Action Portal – that is already being used to register pledges, publish transition plans, and track annual reporting on implementation. But it needs to be scaled up.
4. Mobilizing more financial support for developing countries
Finance is at the heart of all that the world is doing to combat climate change. Mitigation, adaptation, loss and damage, climate technology – all of it requires sufficient funds to function properly and to yield the desired results.
On this crucial topic, COP27 created a pathway to align the broader finance flows towards low emissions and climate resilient development.
The COP27 cover decision, known as the Sharm el-Sheikh Implementation Plan, highlights that a global transformation to a low-carbon economy is expected to require investments of at least USD 4-6 trillion a year. Delivering such funding will require a swift and comprehensive transformation of the financial system and its structures and processes, engaging governments, central banks, commercial banks, institutional investors and other financial actors.
One of the key outcomes of the various decisions on climate finance is a call for developed country Parties to provide resources for the second replenishment of the Green Climate Fund. All countries welcomed the recent pledges made to the Adaptation Fund (totaling USD 211.58 million), the Least Developed Countries Fund (totaling 70.6 million), and the Special Climate Change Fund (totaling 35.0 million).
At COP27, deliberations continued on setting a ‘new collective quantified goal on climate finance’ in 2024, taking into account the needs and priorities of developing countries.
However, serious concern was expressed that the goal of developed country Parties to mobilize jointly USD 100 billion per year by 2020 has not yet been met, with developed countries urged to meet the goal, and multilateral development banks and international financial institutions called on to mobilize climate finance.
UN Climate Change’s Standing Committee on Finance was requested to prepare a report on doubling adaptation finance for consideration at COP28 next year, as well as the biennial progress report on the USD 100 billion goal starting 2024.
5. Making the pivot toward implementation
Of course, climate pledges aren’t worth the paper they’re written on if they aren’t taken off the page and turned into concrete action.
That’s why COP27 was expected to be one of “implementation.”
On the opening day of the conference, UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Simon Stiell called for aligning “every corner of human activity” with the 1.5°C goal, saying “Paris gave us the agreement and Katowice and Glasgow gave us the plan, Sharm el-Sheikh shifts us to implementation.”
But what does a shift to implementation mean and what will it look like?
For starters, the package of decisions adopted at COP27 have a strong focus on implementation – they aim to strengthen action by countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the inevitable impacts of climate change, as well as boost the support of finance, technology and capacity building needed by developing countries.
Notably, nations resolved to make the transition to low-emission and climate-resilient development ambitious, just and equitable. They went one step further at COP27 by deciding to establish a work programme on ‘just transition,’ which is expected to build on and complement the work to urgently scale up mitigation ambition and implementation.
The Paris Agreement calls on signatories to take into account “the imperatives of a just transition of the workforce and the creation of decent work and quality jobs in accordance with nationally defined development priorities.” That means a just transition is not a fixed set of rules, “but a vision and a process based on dialogue and an agenda shared by workers, industry, and governments that need to be negotiated and implemented in their geographical, political, cultural, and social contexts,” according to the International Institute for Sustainable Development.
Speaking about the year ahead, Stiell said UN Climate Change will help Parties and future COP Presidencies navigates this path to the new phase of implementation.
“The heart of implementation is: Everybody, everywhere in the world, every single day, doing everything they possibly can to address the climate crisis,” said Stiell.
How does Nigeria benefit from all these?
Meanwhile, out of the five takeaways, NewsClick Nigeria observes that two issues are of major concern for Africa and Nigeria; namely the decision to set up a climate loss and damage fund and the resolution “phasing down” rather than “phasing out” the burning of fossil fuels.
Nigeria is among the top 10 of the world’s most climate vulnerable countries, though contributing one per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions and therefore had a major stake in the deliberations at COP27. After nearly 30 years of demanding that rich countries set up a fund for rescuing and rebuilding of communities stricken by climate disasters, at COP27 it was resolved to set up a climate loss and damage fund. The fund would provide a lifeline for vulnerable, low-lying and low-income, poor communities who are impacted by severe climate events such as floods, hurricanes and drought brought about as a consequence of climate change.
The fund would be set up within the next year by rich countries although other countries like China, Russia, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states were identified as potential donors. The fund will provide finance to rebuild the physical and social infrastructure of countries ravaged by extreme weather events. Setting up the fund is considered a major victory for poor countries who have argued that they deserve to be compensated by wealthy countries which have been the source of vast majority of emissions into the atmosphere since the industrial revolution that have brought about climate change. Wealthy countries have continued to kick against this fearing that this would be legally admitting liability and having to pay “climate reparations” for climate damages, especially against fossil fuel companies.
In the debates and negotiations, wealthy countries were facing mounting pressure by developing countries to be compensated for loss and damage from climate change. But the wealthy countries also counter by saying that paying for loss and damage can divert funds earmarked for other global climate financing in support for poor countries, especially the pledges made by wealthy countries at the 2009 summit in Copenhagen where they pledged to provide $100b annually to support the poor countries in investments that would support climate mitigation measures. They argue that it might also impact other financing for bodies supporting climate finances through multi- lateral aids.
How does Nigeria benefit from this fund?
The recent flood disasters in Nigeria and Pakistan were cited as examples of where such funding would be applied.
An Associated Press (AP) news report cites the World Weather Attribution group, in the report of a study released during the conference, found that climate change was overwhelmingly behind the heavy rains last rainy season in Nigeria. The season was 20% wetter than normal and led to massive flooding that left over 600 people dead and about 1.2 million people displaced, with worse to come as global average temperature continues to rise.
“We will see very intense rains in the region in the coming years” according to climatologist Friederike Otto of Imperial College London, leader of the study. Scientists called for more concrete policies to enhance their work and greater investments in weather stations in the region to inform their work in future, and also investments in early warning systems to enhance their level of preparedness and help communities in Nigeria prepare for extreme weather events. These are adaptation measures which require huge resources for building structures. The Nigerian government has its work cut out in utilizing these ideas without further delay especially as the government qualifies to benefit from their loss and damage fund. African countries must follow up to ensure that this fund becomes a reality before COP28 holds next year.
Another item that was of great interest for Nigeria in the deliberations was the issue of the production of fossil fuels, coal and oil and gas. It was agreed that fossil fuels are to be “phased down” not “phased out”. Some delegates accused Egypt, who are hosts and president of COP27, of producing a text that “protects oil and gas petro-states and the fossil fuel industries.” African countries vigorously argued that they must be allowed to continue producing their gas assets. The question was how Africa can balance economic growth while helping to save the planet in tackling global warming? Can Africa grow without production of fossil fuels? African countries took the position that if Africa is to join the rest of the world to hastily abandon fossil fuel use, it can be damaging to the region’s economy, because Africa needs to raise living standards of its populace by exploiting its fossil fuel endowment.
They insist that for resource poor countries of Africa, poverty reduction, energy security and economic development have priority over de-carbonization.
African leaders want funding to exploit African extensive gas reserves to generate electricity in a continent where about 90% of the population or about 600 million people have no access to electricity. African delegates argue that the continent emissions is less than 4% of global emissions and see no reason why they should pay for the acts of commission by developed countries which have used fossil fuels to industrialize their economies over a period of two centuries. They assert that advanced countries which have been responsible for the highest emissions per capital should bear heavier responsibility for achieving the global target of limiting temperature increase.
Urgent climate actions must begin now – President Muhammadu Buhari
Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari on the sidelines of the Conference called for urgent climate actions from, especially developed countries to tackle the effects of climate change in Africa.
The sideline Clean Energy Transition event organised by Bloomberg Philanthropies and Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) provided opportunity for Nigeria to highlight it’s climate efforts and concerns.
“Without a doubt, we are at a critical time with respect to the world’s climate future and our actions today and over the next few decades will determine the fate of future generations and the planet.
“This year, we have witnessed disastrous extreme weather events from terrifying wildfires in the United States, to unprecedented heat waves in India, Pakistan, and Europe, to intense floods in my country, Nigeria,” he said.
He therefore called for more accelerated actions from developed countries who contribute most of the emissions affecting Africa’s climate.
“For developing nations particularly in Africa who, despite contributing the least to both historical and current emissions, are facing climate impacts to a disproportionate degree, the case for accelerated climate action is even more pressing.
“We need to see urgent and decisive climate action from the countries most responsible for the emissions that cause climate change.
“We cannot afford any more delays; our people and nations are on the line. The blame game should stop, affirmative and positive commitment to address these challenges must begin now,” Buhari said.
He said Nigeria and other African countries were committed to tackling the climate change crises.
“We are committed to tackling climate change by embarking on bold actions ourselves.
“African nations are demonstrating commitment via the signing of the Paris Agreement, the submission of highly ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and spending up to 9% of GDP in addressing climate change,” he added.