COP27: What’s happened so far?

The 27th annual UN ‘Conference of the Parties’, COP27 aims to bring together world leaders in a global discussion to tackle climate change. A series of thematic days will centre around the reduction of emissions, helping countries to prepare for and deal with climate change and securing technical support and funding for developing countries for the above. This brief summary wraps up some of the key points made during the first week of the event.

9th November: Finance Day

Considered the cornerstone for implementing climate actions, finance has traditionally been at the heart of the UNFCCC process and the Paris Agreement negotiations. During the first day of COP27, climate justice and financing for loss and damage took centre stage. An announcement by new UK PM Rishi Sunak revealed a major new package of climate support.

Speaking at the event, he said, “The world came together in Glasgow with one last chance to create a plan that would limit global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees. The question today is: can we summon the collective will to deliver on those promises?”

Handing over the baton to Egypt on the event’s first day, Sunak revealed that the UK will continue delivering on its key funding commitments, spending £11.6bn on international climate finance. The funding includes a tripling of funding for climate adaptation from £500m ($591m) in 2019 to £1.5bn ($1.78bn) in 2025 and a further £65.5m ($77.5m) for the Clean Energy Innovation Facility, which provides grants to academics in developing countries accelerate the development of clean technology.

In addition to supporting innovation, the UK committed to new financial support for Egypt’s flagship COP27 initiatives, the ‘Nexus on Food, Water and Energy.’ The funding will develop projects including solar parks and energy storage innovations.

A new carbon credits initiative was also unveiled by US climate envoy John Kerry. The plan, dubbed the new Energy Transition Accelerator (ETA) aims to drive private investment into energy transition plans in developing countries. Welcoming the initiative, Ani Dasgupta, CEO of the World Resources Institute, said, “Done right, leveraging voluntary carbon markets can help unlock billions of dollars from the private sector to accelerate the energy transition.”

10th November: Science Day

At the opening session, Sameh Shoukry, COP27 President, said, “Science plays a key role in informing the climate process, providing critical evidence and numbers to build the case for action and the urgency of implementation.”

During the day, organisations Climate Analytics and New Climate Institute revealed that ‘massive’ gas expansion plans – caused by the increased demand for liquefied natural gas (LNG) against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine – threaten the 1.5C warming limit. According to the data, gas capacities currently under construction coupled with expansion plans could push emissions over 1.9 gigatonnes per year in 2030 emission levels consistent with the IEA’s Net Zero by 2050 scenario.

The report added that there have been no substantial improvements of existing Net Zero pledges since COP26 and that – although policy implementation has progressed – it remains too slow. Commitments have been further hampered by selectorial initiatives not yet living up to the hype. Despite Governments continuing to join the Global Methane Pledge this year, some of the top emitters have remained on the side-lines.

Science Day also saw Egypt launch its first Vulnerability Assessment Map, which uses IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change) data to help decision-makers pinpoint the areas most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

11th November: Youth and Future Generations Day

“Climate change is disproportionately affecting children, young people, and will harm future generations,” stated Dr Omnia El Omrani, COP27 Youth Envoy, adding that “the first-ever Children and Youth Pavilion at COP27 in Egypt will tackle this injustice by platforming our voices.”

The thematic day provided an opportunity to showcase success stories of youth-led action. By providing a platform for direct interaction between policymakers and young people, it is hoped that youth perspectives are integrated into the climate discussion to ensure and advocate for greater policies, financing and services targeted to young people.

With 200 million people aged 15 to 24, Africa has the largest population of young people in the world and the fastest growing youth population in the world. The Young Africa session saw African youth experts, entrepreneurs and solution makers present innovative activities and grassroots initiatives for climate adaptation and mitigation.

Other sessions included ‘At the Frontline’, a discussion that aimed to amplify the specific challenges and the climate activism efforts led by children and adolescents globally, and ‘Passing the Baton’ – a two part series of talks, the first of which called for the need to kickstart the intergenerational discussion between policymakers and young practitioners.

12th November: Decarbonisation Day

“The climate crisis is existential, overriding and ever present and we need to look at every piece of the puzzle, including the decarbonisation of the industrial sectors that underpin the global economy,” said Shoukry, opening Decarbonisation Day.

With a focus on decarbonising high emitting sectors, the first session of the day ‘The Decarbonisation Challenge’ focused on the challenges associated with three of the most carbon-intensive industries: oil and gas, cement and steel.

The discussion, ‘Accelerating the way towards decarbonising the steel industry’ outlined various efforts being made globally to reduce emissions in steel production – an industry responsible for producing 7% of global CO2 emissions. A joint project named Hydrogen Breakthrough Ironmaking Technology (HYBRIT) developed by partners SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall aims to create the first fossil-free steel and reduce Sweden’s total CO2 emissions by at least 10%.

Speaking at the event, Martin Pei, Head of Technical Development at SSAB, said that, “Test results have shown that direct reduction of iron ore using hydrogen offers a ‘superior product’ that is easy to handle, transport and store, while also eliminating CO2 emissions in the process.”

In addition to the introduction of a new East Mediterranean Gas Forum decarbonisation initiative, the agenda also saw the launch of the Sharm El-Sheikh Methane Reduction Roadmap, which builds on the commitments made by the 122 countries that have signed the Global Methane Pledge introduced at COP26.

In a speech to COP27 delegates, US President Joe Biden pledged $20bn in new domestic investments to reduce methane emissions and unveiled a new ‘Super-Emitter Response Program’, a strategy designed to call out ‘super emitters’.

A new report was released at the event detailing the latest trends in carbon emissions and sinks. Launched by the Global Carbon Project, a Global Research Project of Future Earth and a research partner of the World Climate Research Programme, the report followed the release of a paper earlier in the day which estimates total global CO2 emissions to be 40.6bn tonnes.

Stay tuned for gasworld’s coverage of week two of the event, featuring exclusive observations and comment from industry.

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