COP27: What We Learned

COP27 came to an end last month; hosted in Egypt and attended by 35,000 delegates from close to 200 countries, COP27 looked to tackle a range of issues across mitigation, adaptation, loss and damage and to review whether nations were staying on course to meet the goals set out in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.

With the dust now settled until COP28 in the UAE next year, we’re looking at the main takeaways from this year’s event and what it means for you and your business.

Historic loss & damage agreement

As expected, COP27 saw much discussion around loss and damage funding for developing nations, finally reaching a historic agreement at the 11th hour.

An agreement was made in the form of the Sharm el-Sheikh Implementation Plan that promises funding from historically significant emitting countries to support vulnerable nations.

Those nations contributing far less to the climate crisis are more likely to suffer the consequences of climate disasters. They have been pushing for funding from more developed, higher-polluting nations for many years to help cover the cost of climate change.

With climate events such as the floods in Pakistan this year that caused 1,500 deaths and $30 billion of damages to a country that contributes just 1% of the world’s emissions, the promise of funding will be a huge relief.

Pakistan’s Climate Change Minister said: “This is not about accepting charity… this is a down payment on investment in our futures and in climate justice.”

Exactly what the fund looks like and how implementation still needs to be ironed out before decisions are made at COP28 next year, but for now, the agreement is a historic step in supporting countries that are impacted most by climate change.

1.5 is still alive (for now)

Last year, COP26 in Glasgow was seen as the first real test of the Paris Agreement’s aim of limiting global warming to 1.5°C by 2030; a test that was shown to be on course to fail resoundingly. Countries came away from COP26 promising to get their 2030 climate plans back on track by COP27.

Despite the promises made in Glasgow, only a few nations have tracked towards meeting their targets, meaning that on current projections, there would be a less than 1% reduction in global emissions by the end of the decade; experts say this needs to be at 43% by 2030 to remain on target and avoid widespread climate-related disasters.

Even more concerning is that according to the updated scientific analysis, the pathway to Net Zero emissions by 2050 relies heavily on reaching 1.5°C by 2030, but when we consider the reduction in emissions caused by covid disruptions, this number could be 1.4°C every year.

The more significant this gap becomes, the harder it will be to avoid a tipping point on the pathway to Net Zero by 2050.

With many vulnerable nations saying that failure to keep on target for 1.5C by 2030 would be disastrous and with large polluters like China wanting to avoid more emissions cuts, there is clearly much work still to be done.

The failure to come away with an explicit agreement on this is seen by many as one of the significant failures of COP27.

Fossil Fuels remain a hot topic

Global emissions from burning fossil fuels are on track to rise by around 1% this year, highlighting a gap between the promises made by world leaders to combat climate change and their actions. As economies recover from covid lockdowns, oil usage increases, with industries like aviation particularly driving increasing fossil fuel usage upward.

The conflict in Ukraine is restricting natural gas supplies to Europe pushing countries toward the most polluting fossil fuels. In the UK, the government has approved the reopening of coal mining for the first time in 30 years to help shore up supplies.

There were promising discussions throughout COP27, with the European Union backing India and many smaller island nations in calling for a drastic reduction in fossil fuel consumption. But with many countries reliant on oil for their economies, any decision to phase out fossil fuels entirely is still some way off.

With the final agreement from COP27 calling for “efforts toward the phasedown of fossil fuels” rather than the complete phasing out of fossil fuels, this is seen by many as another COP27 failure.

What you can do

The major takeaway is that to reach these targets, everybody needs to contribute, no matter whether your SME, Mid Cap or large enterprise. Reliance on industry to support the mitigation of carbon emissions is essential, hence the continued drive on regulation and increased mandatory expectations on ESG disclosure.
Monitoring and reporting on key environmental, social and governance (ESG) metrics are critical in understanding where your business is concerning broader geographical, governmental and sector-related rules, regulations and targets.

Whether you are looking to get to Net Zero by 2050, 1.5°C by 2030, are looking to avoid potential fines and penalties or want a better understanding of your business to help drive operational change and performance; understanding and reporting on key areas across your business will give you greater visibility and a clearer indication of where you can make improvements to meet your goals.

How can we help?

Our team of expert advisors have a vast wealth of experience across all aspects of ESG and can guide you in making better decisions for people, the planet and your bottom line.

Moreover, we can talk you through our innovative technology platform, Sustainion, and demonstrate how it can take the hassle out of collating your data to form forward-thinking business strategies that work for you and the climate.

If you’d like to discuss your ESG strategy in more detail, get in touch with our team today.

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