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With global leaders clapping themselves on the back for finalising an historic deal which will see the wealthiest of the developed countries financing a Loss and Damage fund for those most impacted by climate change, many leading environmentalists are left shaking their heads in dismay at the climate cop out that was COP 27.

Reactions to COP 27

This summit failed...

Ed Miliband, Shadow Secretary of State for Climate Change and Net Zero in the UK
After 48 hours of endless, often fraught, negotiations, exhausted first world delegates of COP 27 finally thrashed out a trillion dollar agreement that will see financial aid being given to those countries most susceptible to the catastrophic impacts of climate change. Poorer countries such as Pakistan and the Caribbean Islands that sit in the eye of an ever worsening meteorological storm, will receive Loss and Damage payments funded primarily by the biggest emitters of carbon, including Russia and the US.

Finally, we have recognition, acknowledgement. Fantastic outcome. It’s taken us a lot more time than it should have taken but we are where we are.

Dr Satyendra Prasad, Fijian Ambassador to the UN

Two weeks of intensive negotiations at the Climate Summit finally resulted in what is being heralded as a ‘landmark deal’, praised for the potential positive impact it will have on developing countries. The fund, hailed by organisers as an “historic outcome”, will see vulnerable countries, proposed by the EU, receiving funds to aid recovery from immediate and future severe meteorological events such as the widespread floods that have devastated large tracts of Pakistan.

What hasn’t been agreed is which countries fall into the category of “developing”: currently mega carbon emitters such as China and ‘petro-states’ such as Qatar fall into that category. Expect fireworks at COP 28 when it comes to redefining the term “developing”!

While that landmark deal is indeed to be lauded, concerns have been raised by leading environmentalists and scientists alike that the final deal agreed at COP 27 falls short of the ambition and commitment needed to dramatically reduce the usage of fossil fuels.

No commitment was made to further cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

In return for supporting the Loss and Damage fund, the Western allies including the UK and EU, wanted a strong statement that would see all fossil fuels phased out to protect the 1.5c target agreed at COP 26 when the UK’s Alok Sharma was summit president.

A furious and very obviously disappointed Sharma vented at world leaders in his response to the lack of progress made on delivering on climate action. “The deal (agreed in Egypt) was a step backwards”, he fumed.

This position was further backed up by the British PM, Rishi Sunak, who reiterated that more must be done to tackle global warming and this was “no time for complacency”

It is critical that commitment is delivered by all of us, including by the major emitters in this room who did not come forward this year. We (also) wanted to take a definitive steps forward. We joined with many Parties to propose a number of measures that would have contributed to this. Emissions peaking before 2025, as the science tells us is necessary. Clear follow-through on the phase down of coal. A clear commitment to phase out all fossil fuels. And the energy text, weakend, in the final minutes. Friends, I said in Glasgow that the pulse of 1.5 degrees was weak. Unfortunately, it remains on life support.

Alok Sharma, Outgoing COP President.

COP's Failure

Unanimity lies at the heart of COP’s failure to make the required progress on climate action as agreement at the climate summit has to be unanimous. Many observers blame the stalemate on the heavy lobbying by delegates from the oil-rich countries such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

When we look at how we move forward, the intergovernmental process is slow, it’s incremental … it is consensus based. The process on its own isn’t going to get us to where we want and need to be.

Simon Still, Executive Secretary UN Framework Convention on Climate Change

*Source BBC R4

While it’s all well and good that the worst greenhouse gas offenders have finally agreed to put their money where their emissions hurt most, in order to safeguard the most vulnerable countries carbon emissions need to be reduced by 50% by 2030. Fact.

Next year, oil-rich UAE will host COP 28. A major oil and gas exporter, it is already questionable whether the response needed to mitigate against climate disaster can be reached there.

COP 27 Failed!

On the subject of keeping 1.5 alive “COP 27 failed”. Rather than tackling the crisis he said, global “leaders are fiddling while the world burns.” – Ed Miliband, Labour Shadow Secretary of State for Climate Change and Net Zero.

So, with many advocates for ramped up commitments and delivery on climate action profoundly disappointed with this year’s outcome, what do the likes of long-time climate campaigner, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and Chair of the Elders, Mary Robinson, make of what was and wasn’t agreed at COP 27.

The overarching objective is to ensure that global warming stays within the 1.5°C increase above pre-industrial levels and therefore prevent the worst consequences of climate change.

Foresight, CMCC observatory on climate policies and futures.

While she felt it was good that significant progress had been made in the matter of Loss and Damage, COP 27 was meant to be a COP “about implementation and it wasn’t. The lack of implementation is really serious,” she said, “I didn’t see any roadmap to climate adaptation doubling by 2025.”

In an interview with Evan Davis on R4’s PM programme Mary Robinson was both effusive in her praise for the EU-driven payments deal and vocal in her condemnation of the damning pressure the fossil fuel lobby brought to bear on proceedings.

She said:

I believe that the impact of the fossil fuel lobby was very significant and Egypt, as presidency, didn’t push back enough. Saudi Arabia and Russia watered down a mitigation work programme and blocked language to phase down fossil fuels. There was a broad coalition of some 80 countries, including India, that wanted that. But it’s still on the agenda and there will be more pressure as 1.5 is the outer limit. While they (the fossil fuel lobby) had a very real presence, there were (also) more coalitions for clean energy, more linking of governments with industry, a greater understanding of what the indigenous peoples are suffering globally. There was a real mood that we are on the cusp of a clean energy world. But. Governments. Apart from the EU which favoured an increase to 57% in cutting emissions by 2030. This is a really significant move which will see countries like Ireland put to the pin of its collar to deliver, but we will deliver because we believe that it is extremely important (to do so).

- Mary Robinson, Head of the Elders

What Does the Outcome of COP 27 mean for Ireland?

While no steps forward were taken on the really important matter of mitigation and adaptation, as part of a climate-wise EU, Ireland will deliver on its commitments to contribute to the global effort to mitigate the threat of climate breakdown. Of that Ms Robinson was more than sure.
Ireland has the mix of skills necessary to both lead and shore up at the highest levels at the EU an indication of which was clear with the appointment of Eamonn Ryan as EU lead negotiator at COP 27.

What is already evident is that Ireland is already a leader in terms of delivering on climate action, a fact which is underpinned by our record on climate justice. Among the most supportive in the drive to reduce emissions through the rapid adaptation of clean energy and immediate phasing down of fossil fuels, Ireland has shown both leadership and direction in its pursuit of ambition climate targets. Only time will tell whether we walk the walk as well as we talk the talk. Our credibility will be sorely tested in terms of rapid clean energy adapters if we do fail to put a cap on our ever-growing emissions.

*Source BBC Radio 4.

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