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November 23, 2022
After two weeks of heavy negotiations, high-level statements, thematic sessions, and informal talks, COP27 came to a delayed end on November 20, 2022. This year was branded as “implementation COP,” and was supposed to offer an opportunity for global leaders to move beyond pledges and into concrete action on key topics. From the start, the outlook was clouded by strong geopolitical tensions, lack of progress in curbing greenhouse emissions and fulfilling previous climate agreements, as well as heavy skepticism from civil society organizations about world leaders’ true commitment to climate action. This skepticism is well founded: According to the 2022 Nationally Determined Contributions Synthesis Report of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), even if all current climate change-related commitments are met, the world will still see warming of 2.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. Similarly, the $100 billion climate finance goal (which donor countries were meant to deliver each year, starting in 2020 and until 2025) will not be reached until next year — two years too late.
Despite the trepidation in the leadup to COP27, friction between world leaders, and concerns about the non-attendance of major carbon emitters (such as China, India, and Russia), COP27 still also offers some hope for the future of our planet and its most vulnerable people. Negotiators were in the end able to agree on a joint political declaration: The Sharm el-Sheikh Implementation Plan, or COP27 cover decision. The event made progress in getting loss and damage on the policy agenda, featured a variety of leading voices from countries and civil society, and showed that countries could overcome major disparities in times of energy crisis, high inflation, and war.
Although the overall progress of COP27 did not match the scale of ongoing challenges posed by climate change, strong pressure from climate champions ensured that progress already made was not lost.
Looking ahead, advocates should focus on:
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