A Historic Step Forward At COP27

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On November 18, over 200 countries concluded two weeks of climate negotiations at COP27.

COP, or the Conference of the Parties, is an annual event held by the United Nations. During last year’s COP in Glasgow, all eyes were on pledges made by countries to reduce carbon emissions. This is important if we are to stay within a 1.5 °C global warming.

At this year’s COP, hosted in Egypt, getting to net zero emissions still remained a key goal. While no new commitments were made, delegations made a significant pledge to phase down fossil fuels.

There was also progress on protecting rainforests and funding to help developing countries. Let's find out more. 

A Pledge to Developing Nations

The effects of climate change have been especially hard felt in Asia, Africa, the Pacific, and the Caribbean.

This year, floods have devastated Pakistan, leaving a third of the country underwater with over $30 billion in damages. Extreme flooding also affected Nigeria, whilst record-breaking drought has caused widespread famine in Africa. Island nations have been faced with rising sea levels that could swallow their communities and infrastructure.

Since 1991, delegates from developing nations have been criticizing the unfair burden their countries have had to face as a result of larger carbon emissions from wealthy countries. A decade ago, wealthy nations had pledged annual donations of $100 billion by 2020 to a "loss and damage fund." The goal of the fund is to provide financial support to developing countries in the event of climate disasters. 

Today, actual donations have lagged behind that estimate. Many of the donations have been delivered as loans. The wording of the original pledge also did not specify how much each nation would be required to donate. In fact, the United States has contributed less than $3 billion out of the actual $83.3 billion in 2020.

During COP26, both the US and the European Union stopped shy of committing to a formal fund. This makes this year’s agreement historic. Besides the creation of the new fund, wealthy nations will open negotiations on fund arrangements and investments in renewable energy and infrastructure in developing countries. The World Bank will also undergo reforms to better support the new fund. 

So far, the EU has donated $300 million. While a small step, the fund is crucial to establishing wider trust and recognition.

Protecting the World’s Rainforests

Brazil, Indonesia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo united on rainforest conservation and sustainable management. Their pact came a few days after more than 25 countries at COP27 pledged to end deforestation by 2030. Governments promised billions of dollars to back this pledge, while private companies came forward to donate a further $3.6 billion.

With these fresh developments, many are looking forward to next year’s COP, which will be hosted in Dubai.

Sources: BBC, NYTimes, Reuters, Guardian, UNFCC