The COP27 climate summit in Egypt has delivered mixed results and left some big issues unresolved.
Here are some key takeaways from the two-week summit.
Loss and damages: ‘Climate justice’
The talks wrapped up with a breakthrough decision to establish a new fund to help countries that suffer “loss and damage” from climate change. It’s a hard-won victory for some of the world’s poorest nations.
The fund will provide payouts to developing countries that suffer losses and damages from climate-driven storms, floods, droughts and wildfires.
Research director at the Climate Council Dr Simon Bradshaw attended COP27 and told The New Daily that the agreement will be the summit’s “defining legacy”.
“This is something that had been fought for very hard over many years, particularly by Pacific Island countries, but many other countries around the world too,” Dr Bradshaw said.
The agreement calls for money to come from a variety of existing sources, including financial institutions, rather than relying on just rich nations paying for it.
It will likely take several years to decide how the fund will be run, including how the money will be dispersed and which countries will be eligible.
Australian Ambassador for Climate Change Kristin Tilley said: “We’ve made historic progress at COP27 to establish new funding arrangements including a fund, and to explore a broad range of ways to provide support to developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change.
“However, we must strive further in light of the stark findings of the latest science.”
Where COP27 failed was in the lack of any meaningful progress driving the move from fossil fuels to clean energy.
Some countries even tried to roll back on mitigation commitments made in the 2021 Glasgow Climate Pact.
“We had to fight relentlessly to hold the line of Glasgow,” Alok Sharma, architect of the Glasgow deal, told the summit.
He listed a number of ambition-boosting measures that weren’t included in the final COP27 deal: “Emissions peaking before 2025 as the science tells us is necessary? Not in this text. Clear follow-through on the phase down of coal? Not in this text. A clear commitment to phase out all fossil fuels? Not in this text.”
More ambitious national emissions targets and scaling back the use of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas is required to avoid catastrophic warming, they say.
“[It] remains a major sin of omission (and one that leads to ongoing sins of emission) that the most important mitigation strategy – the rapid phasing out of all fossil fuels for clean energy sources – remains muted in the plan and the reality of what needs to happen is shrouded in mealy-mouthed words,” said Professor Brendan Mackey, director of the Griffith University Climate Change Response Program.
Professor Ian Lowe, former president of the Australian Conservation Foundation, said that while helping the world’s poorest countries cope with the damage inflicted on them is welcome, it would be much better to reduce that burden by slowing the rate of climate change.
“As has been consistently the case since the climate change convention was formulated 30 years ago, most governments continue to put short-term economic goals ahead of their long-term responsibilities.”
Dr Bradshaw told The New Daily that some oil-rich countries, such as Saudi Arabia, were “dragging their heels” regarding fossil fuel phase-outs.
World Bank reform
The summit heard calls to transform the global financial system to deliver funding to help countries cut their carbon emissions, and adapt their economies to the changes caused by global warming.
Among the steps likely to free up more cash is a plan to reform leading public lenders such as the World Bank so that they can take more risk and lend more money.
“We need all financial flows to be supporting climate solutions [and] to be supporting the transition to clean energy,” Dr Bradshaw said.
“That includes what is done by the big multinational development banks.
“It means getting these trillions of dollars in private capital that are there, or shifted towards climate solutions.
“We need significant transformation of the financial system, and its structures and processes in order to drive the global shift to clean energy.”
Australia is back
Experts say the Albanese government is working hard to improve Australia’s climate credentials.
“I think we’re back on the field playing a much better role than previously, but we just have to keep building from here,” Dr Bradshaw said.
He said that there’s still a lot of work to be done if Australia is to move from being a “handbrake on global action” to being a “global climate leader”.
“We have to be frank as well and realise that we still have a long way to go, we have a new 2030 target that’s catching us up with the rest of the developed world.
“We are going to have to greatly accelerate our move away from coal and gas and greatly accelerate our own domestic energy transformation.
“We also need to step up the amount of support we provide to developing countries with climate action.”
– with AAP