Kochi: November 17, Day 11 of the 27th Conference of Parties (COP27) was an important one in several aspects, including negotiations and their outcomes (or lack thereof), such as those pertaining to loss and damage.
The COP Presidency published the first draft text of the Cover Decision, which revealed that there is still no consensus on several crucial agenda items such as the mitigation work programme and a fund for loss and damage, among others.
Vulnerable and developing countries called out the “worrying inaction” on the part of developed countries in establishing a fund to deal with the loss and damage caused by climate change. The Presidency also released the draft text on matters relating to finance, late on November 17.
November 17 was the last of the thematic days of COP27. Solutions Day events focused on innovations to amplify climate finance, finance approaches to protect against loss and damages and more.
Global Climate Action events for COP27 came to a close and UN Climate Change High-Level Champions Nigel Topping and Dr. Mahmoud Mohieldein presented a summary of the events which have been conducted as part of the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action.
The Partnership supports implementation of the Paris Agreement by enabling collaboration between governments and the cities, regions, businesses and investors. Outcomes as part of COP27 included the Sharm El-Sheikh Adaptation Agenda and a host of other initiatives, reports and events.
Work still remains on several issues including the global goal on adaptation, the mitigation work programme, finance, and loss and damage, said COP27 President Sameh Shoukry in an official communication released on the morning of Thursday, November 17.
“Time is not on our side, let us come together now and deliver by Friday,” he urged parties.
Though Shoukry asked that technical negotiations be concluded by mid-Thursday, it was not to be.
Negotiations dragged on through the night of November 17 and into the early hours of November 18, on key outcomes on which parties have still not arrived at a consensus. These included negotiations on several aspects of Article 6 of the Paris Agreement (such as non-market approaches like just transitions, social inclusivity and others under Article 6.8) and funding arrangements for loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change.
The daily press briefing at 5 pm by the COP Presidency was postponed and a “new time will be announced”, per the UNFCCC’s web portal. However, the press briefing did not occur on November 17.
First draft of Cover Decision published
On the morning of November 17, the COP27 Presidency published the first draft of the Cover Decision, which runs into 20 pages.
The Cover Decision is a negotiated document that lists out the main outcomes of the COP and will be the main, legally binding text on the negotiations held during the COP. For instance, the first draft of the Cover Decision of COP26 later became the Glasgow Climate Pact, which was significant in that it was the first to mention a coal phasedown by parties as part of requisite climate action.
The first draft includes several aspects such as nature-based solutions, the need for around $4 trillion a year to be invested in renewable energy until 2030, including investments in technology and infrastructure, so that net-zero emissions by 2050 can be achieved.
However, there are only ‘placeholders’ – suggestive of a lack of agreement among parties – for very crucial agenda items that are still under fierce negotiation. These include the mitigation work programme, the new collective quantified goal, transparency on delivering on finance commitments, setting a post-2025 goal, National Adaptation Plans, and several others.
“In the draft, there is no decision on Loss and Damage,” said R. R. Rashmi, distinguished fellow, The Energy Resources Institute (TERI). “Only the institutional arrangements for Santiago Network are agreed upon.”
The Santiago Network aims to provide technical assistance to implement approaches to avert, minimise and address loss and damage in developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change.
“A phase-down of all fossil fuels (which India had asked for) is not mentioned but the failure of developed countries to reduce emissions and the urgency of their becoming net negative by 2030 is mentioned in the current text,” he added.
The draft is a hard-to-navigate document which lists much but “doesn’t stack up to anything which can be termed as progress so far,” said Aarti Khosla, director, Climate Trends. “It puts placeholders in key agenda items like the mitigation work programme, but offers no clarity on the fate of a financing facility for loss and damage, which was a key demand of this COP.”
“A statement in the text acknowledges scaled-up finance to the tune of $4-6 trillion per year for global transformation to low carbon,” Khosla continued. “Current estimates suggest a mobilisation of less than $1 billion from all sources. If that is a reality, it could be transformational.”
Release of draft text on funds for loss and damage
Late night on November 17, the Presidency also released the draft text on matters relating to finance and funding arrangements in response to loss and damage. With regard to establishing a mechanism to fund loss and damage, it lists three options.
The first option is to establish a fund as part of “new and enhanced funding agreements” to assist developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to climate change-caused loss and damage. The fund will complement financial support from other sources, funds, initiatives and processes both part of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement, and outside of it.
The second option is to establish new and enhanced funding arrangements at the next COP (COP28, at Dubai, UAE) to establish a fund which will, again, complement financial support from other avenues.
The third is to establish new and enhanced funding agreements at COP28 to complement other sources of finance. This option does not talk of a specific fund for loss and damage.
Vulnerable countries demand establishment of loss and damage fund
The inaction on the part of some developed countries to establish a fund for loss and damage (economic and non-economic impacts of events caused as a result of climate change) is worrying, said groups of vulnerable and developing countries on November 17. For the first time in COP history, a funding mechanism for loss and damage was part of the agenda.
In an impromptu press conference in the afternoon of November 17 at COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, leaders representing the G77 and China, Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Independent Alliance of Latin America and the Caribbean (AILAC) said that developed countries should deliver on the promise and show the “political will” to establish a fund for loss and damage.
Despite the late hour, they were ready to sit down and work out a consensus, the leaders said.
UN Secretary General arrives for last leg of COP27
“There is clearly a breakdown in trust between North and South, and between developed and emerging economies,” said UN Secretary General António Guterres who arrived at Sharm El-Sheikh from the G20 summit at Bali, Indonesia, on Thursday.
The “most effective way” to rebuild trust is to reach an agreement on loss and damage and financial support to developing countries, he said. “The time for talking on loss and damage finance is over. We need action.”
Guterres also urged all parties to close the “huge” emissions gap and the need to push for a Climate Solidarity Pact. The Pact, called for by Guterres at the beginning of COP27, asks that developed economies make additional efforts to limit rising global temperatures to 1.5 °C while providing financial and technical help to emerging economies as they transition to renewable energy sources.
Teams from the COP27 Presidency discussed “extensively” the current state of negotiations at COP27 with the Secretary General, said President Shoukry in a late evening press release on November 17.
“While progress has been achieved on a large number of issues, it is evidently clear that at this late stage of the COP27 process, there are still a number of issues where progress remains lacking, with persisting divergent views amongst parties,” he said.
While some of the discussions were constructive and positive, others did not reflect the expected recognition of the need to move collectively to address the gravity and urgency of the climate crisis, said Shoukry.
“The mitigation work program is yet to reach the desired outcome. Adaptation is still held back by procedural matters. Ambitious outcomes on finance have not yet materialised. And on loss and damage, parties are shying away from taking the difficult political decisions,” he said, urging all parties to “go the extra mile” to reach conclusions and agreements.
“The world is waiting for us to demonstrate the seriousness by which we tackle this matter, and as a community of nations we must live up to their expectations,” he said.
On the cards today
November 18, Day 12 of COP27, will technically be the last day of the COP. World leaders have their work cut out for the day – which includes arriving at a consensus on the major points of disagreement, including setting up a fund for loss and damage as vulnerable countries have repeatedly requested.
Several Head of Delegation meetings, including one to deal with the New Collective Quantified Goal (NCQG), will occur over the day. Based on discussions on the night of November 17, the final text on Article 6 and other related issues will be submitted by 11 am today, said Grace Fu, minister of sustainability and the environment of Singapore at the informal stocktaking plenary on the evening of November 17.
“We are cautiously optimistic that this can be done,” she said. Since there was no broad agreement on several aspects of the mitigation work programme, the team will meet this morning as well to discuss options, said ministers in charge of the discussions at the plenary.
The government of the island nation of Vanuatu will reveal how it will ask the International Court of Justice for an opinion on the obligations of governments regarding climate change, and then put the decision before the United Nations for a vote, reported Reuters.
Some UNFCCC pavilion events and other press conferences will be conducted through the day. The COP presidency will conduct two press briefings, in the afternoon and evening, to provide updates on the latest developments.
Meanwhile, a final press briefing is scheduled for November 19 (Saturday) at 7 pm Egypt time (EET)/10:30 pm India time. However, there are doubts that the COP could extend into Sunday. Senior advocate Sébastien Duyck of the Center for International Environmental Law tweeted that transport services have been extended through Sunday midnight.