COP27 Diary, Days 7 and 8: Agriculture, Adaptation and the Path to Net Zero

What happened that you should know, and what you should watch out for.

Kochi: India released its long-term strategy for low-carbon development on November 14, Day 8 of COP27, the international conference on climate change currently in progress at the city of Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt. Negotiations on aspects including adaptation and a new collective quantified goal took place.

On Saturday, November 12, discussions had centred around agriculture, adaptation and resilient food systems, while negotiations continued on loss and damage and a global goal for adaptation.

Nov 12: Adaptation and Agriculture Day

November 12 was themed Adaptation and Agriculture Day, and sessions revolved around food security, nutrition and climate change, finance for climate smart agriculture and adaptation technologies. The Egypt COP27 Presidency launched the Climate Responses for Sustaining Peace (CRSP) initiative, which aims to mobilise integrated climate responses that “advance sustainable peace and development”.

On Saturday, India said that it wanted countries to phase down on not just coal, but other fossil fuels too. Natural gas and oil also lead to emission of greenhouse gases, and painting only coal as the “villain” is “not right,” a source in the Indian delegation attending the climate talks told PTI.

It was also Global Day of Action, and protesters called for climate justice as they marched through the venue. They also reiterated calls to kick polluters out of the conference.

The Global Assembly of Parliamentarians, consisting of elected officials from every continent convened on Saturday and adopted a resolution that called upon parties to commit to stopping expansion of new oil, gas and coal projects and align a fossil fuel phase-out with the 1.5ºC temperature goal in the Sharm El-Sheikh outcome document.

A screengrab from a Reuters video showing protesters at COP27.

They also called for all parties to make “a clear and unequivocal commitment to a global, rapid, just and equitable transition out of fossil fuels”, and also work towards the negotiation of a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Negotiations continued, on National Adaptation Plans, the Global Environment Facility (an international partnership of more than 180 countries that supplies funds to address environmental threats including biodiversity loss and climate change) and the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture according to which parties agreed to work together to ensure both increased food security and reduce agriculture-related emissions.

Nov 14: Gender, and Water days

After a break for Sunday, COP27 restarted on November 14 which marked Day 8 of the conference.

In an Informal Stocktaking Plenary held in the morning, COP President Sameh Shoukry called for all parties and groups to focus on reaching a “successful outcome”. The COP27 Presidency said that it hopes that “nearly all outstanding issues will be resolved” by the morning of November 16, which means that “a timely agreement can be achieved by the final day of the COP”, per a press release.

However, there is still a lot of work ahead to achieve meaningful and tangible outcomes of which we can be proud of, said Shoukry. “We must now shift gears and complement the technical discussions with more political, high-level engagement,” he said. 

November 14 was Water Day, and the COP presidency launched the AWARE (Action for Water Adaptation and Resilience) Initiative. It will offer adaptation solutions linked to water security and climate change, to communities and ecosystems that face acute water scarcity.

The initiative’s aims include developing solutions to decrease water loss, improve water supply and support the implementation of policies for cooperative water-related adaptation actions.

Informal consultations continued on Day 8, on the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture, the Green Climate Fund, various aspects pertaining to Article 6 in the Paris Agreement (dealing with carbon markets), the new collective quantified goal, a clean development mechanism, the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage and funding for loss and damage.

Meanwhile, the draft text published by the UN based on what parties could agree on loss and damage included a reference to the establishment of a new UN-administered fund for this, along with debt relief, reported Reuters.

The day also witnessed several discussions on gender and climate change including the role of women in climate dialogues and implementation and a representation of indigenous women’s voices from the Amazon, as gender was one of the themes for the day.

Meanwhile, countries are not yet close to agreeing on technical details pertaining to carbon markets (wherein countries or organisations can offset their carbon emissions by paying for others to cut their emissions) even after one week of talks at COP27 according to negotiators and observers, reported Reuters.

India releases long term plan

On November 14, India submitted its long-term strategy to move towards low carbon development to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The report titled ‘India’s Long-Term Low-Carbon Development Strategy’ has been produced by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. It was launched by Union Environment Minister Bhupendra Yadav at the India pavilion.

The strategies include implementing low carbon measures in electricity systems but in a way that is consistent with development, and developing an “integrated, efficient, inclusive, low carbon” transport system. The strategies will promote adaptation measures in urban design, energy and material efficiency in buildings, while also considering carbon dioxide removal and related engineering solutions. They aim to decouple emissions from growth, and develop a low-emission industrial system.

The strategies will also include moves to enhance forest and vegetation cover but by taking into account socio-economic and ecological considerations as well.

As per the report, the listed long-term strategies have been developed by taking into account India’s low historic contributions toward global warming, the high energy needs of the country, national circumstances as it pertains to committing to low-emission growth strategies, and the need to build climate resilience.

“The framing of a long term strategy for low emission development by the Government of India and its public release at CoP27 is significant as it closely follows the announcement of net zero goals by India’s PM in Glasgow last year,” commented R. R. Rashmi, Distinguished Fellow, The Energy Resource Institute (TERI).

“What is required now is to mainstream this strategy in the overall development plan of the country and develop a roadmap for targeted transition of each identified sector within a specific time frame. This will give it implementability and make it more monitorable from a national point of view.”

The long term strategy, which clearly outlines key interventions across sectors that are going to be the focus of India’s efforts, “cements India’s leadership”, said Vaibhav Chaturvedi, Fellow, Council for Energy, Environment and Water. “Importantly, the document is an outcome of intensive stakeholder discussions… [It] could have included carbon pricing through a domestic emissions trading scheme as a key element of India’s strategy, given that the government has already announced the creation of the same in India.”

India’s long-term strategies should be “viewed as a living document”, according to Navroz K. Dubash of the Centre for Policy Research. 

“Future iterations should emphasize robust and transparent modelling towards net-zero by 2070, clearer identification of sectoral co-benefits and trade-offs, and more detailed discussion with states,” he said.

‘Clarify pre-2030’: India has much to say

The Ministerial High-Level Roundtable on Pre-2030 Ambition, which aims to set the global direction on mitigation ambition and implementation that should be taken before 2030, took place on November 14. 

However, pre-2030 “must be clarified”, and it cannot begin at 2020, said India’s Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav, intervening at the roundtable. “How far back does pre-2030 go? In our view, pre-2030 in this sense is no different from pre-2020,” he said. 

Historical cumulative emissions are crucial and therefore pre-2020 responsibility, and whether pre-2020 commitments have been fulfilled, must be taken into consideration too, he said.

All parties have differing ambitions when it comes to climate commitments, which must be recognised, Yadav said, placing the onus on developed countries to take the lead here. Time, human and financial resources and sustained economic growth are not ‘barriers’ to climate ambitions, instead they are required for low-carbon development to be achieved.

The kind of increased effort that is required on the part of developed countries is not happening, and developing countries are being asked to be more ambitious. If ambition is thus “forced”, growth will be restricted. 

Yadav added that India will continue to use its fossil fuel resources to protect energy security.

“Support for just transition means increased support for the deployment of renewables, increased support for the development of renewable technologies and means to cope with the costs of such development and the deployment of such technologies.”

Yadav also reiterated India’s stand on the need for a clear definition of climate finance, which several other countries too have called for, in the High-Level Ministerial Dialogue on Climate Finance conducted on November 14.

Launch of Global Shield programme and others

The G7 group of countries and the Vulnerable Twenty (V20) group of climate-vulnerable countries launched the Global Shield against Climate Risks initiative. It aims to provide immediate financial support to communities that are facing climate disasters, through means such as pre-approved insurance. Germany will provide the initial seed money of 170 million euros. This was not a tactic to avoid loss and damage discussion at COP27, said Svenja Schulze, Germany’s minister of economic cooperation and development.

Pakistan will be among the first to receive funds from the Global Shield mechanism.

However, some activists say that the programme is being “hyped up”.

“Having worked with communities & followed the evolution of #insurance at #UNFCCC, I must say it is being hyped up & given disproportionate focus,” tweeted Harjeet Singh, Head-Global Political Strategy at the NGO Climate Action Network International.

“When all developing countries are demanding a #LossAndDamage Finance Facility under #UNFCCC, why are you investing efforts in creating something outside that neither covers all developing countries nor range of climate impacts, such as slow onset events – sea level rise?,” he asked.

On the same day, the world’s three largest rainforest nations – Brazil, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Indonesia – formally launched a partnership to cooperate on forest preservation. The countries will also work to negotiate “a new sustainable funding mechanism” to help developing countries preserve their biodiversity and increase funding through a UN programme to reduce deforestation, Reuters reported.

LiFE is India’s focus 

At a side event on November 14, India, together with the UNDP, launched ‘Prayaas Se Prabhaav Tak – From Mindless Consumption to Mindful Utilization’.

The compendium “highlights traditional best practices from India [that] embody the ethos of LiFE”.

Lifestyle for Environment (LiFE) is one of India’s updates in its most recent Nationally Determined Contribution and calls on the world to move towards more sustainable lifestyles by promoting several steps including encouraging a circular economy to minimize waste and emissions.

At another side event, India also launched its “In Our LiFEtime” campaign to encourage youth to take the message of sustainable lifestyles – the core message of Lifestyle for Environment (LiFE), which is.

India among four major emitters downplaying climate progress: report

As per an analysis by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU), the race to get off Russian gas to boost energy security and cut costs, and the economic opportunities of the clean transition are among the factors driving a global momentum on climate change for the world’s biggest four emitters, China, the US, the European Union and India.

With respect to India, the rapid rollout of renewable energy, especially solar, is set to transform the electricity sector this decade, with coal generation becoming increasingly unprofitable. These along with other interventions are likely putting India on course towards its 2070 net zero emissions target, the report said.

India has taken several actions in this regard including the Green Hydrogen mission, said Shruti Sharma, Senior Policy Advisor, the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) in a webinar hosted by the ECIU on November 14. While there is “movement” in some sectors such as clean energy access goals, it is lacking in others.

The reduction of pollution in indoor and outdoor air has not seen much success lately, she said. But on the other hand fossil fuel energy subsidies have also fallen significantly in the last seven years. Any fossil fuel phasedown that India aims to have has to be in a socially responsible way, she added.

Meanwhile, as per the latest annual Climate Change Performance Index – which rates 59 countries and the EU based on climate performance – found that no country in the world is on a 1.5C pathway yet. The report, released on November 14 by Germanwatch, NewClimate Institute and CAN International, found that India rose two spots to rank 8 when compared to last year. China’s ranking dropped from 38 to 51.

India is among the nine countries responsible for 90% of global coal production. It also plans to increase its oil, gas, and oil production by over 5% by 2030. This is incompatible with the 1.5°C target,” the report said with regard to India.

On the cards today

Activists have called for protests outside the entrance to COP27 tomorrow, to “not gas Africa” through more fossil fuel projects. Meanwhile, on November 14, the family of the jailed pro-democracy activist Alaa Abd el-Fattah said they have received confirmation that he is still alive through a hand-written note from him, reported The Guardian

November 15 is ACE (Action for Climate Empowerment) and Civil Society Day, as well as Energy Day. ACE refers to the work being conducted pertaining to Article 6 of the UNFCCC (which seeks to reduce the impact of climate change by enabling society to be a part of the solution) and Article 12 of the Paris Agreement (pertaining to climate change education, public awareness, participation and access to information).

Discussions will revolve around transitioning to clean energy, just and affordable energy transitions, Green Hydrogen and how civil society shapes the climate agenda, among others.

Negotiations on the Koronivia Joint on Agriculture, long-term climate finance and National Adaptation Plans will continue. The High-Level Segments, where Heads of States and Governments will deliver their national statements, will also resume from November 15.