The 27th UN Conference on Climate Change, also known as COP27, took place in November 2022 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. The conferences have been held annually since the first United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1992. This time, the Czech Republic had the position of a country negotiating on behalf of the entire European Union, as it holds the presidency of the Council of the EU. The conference had high expectations, but not all of them were fulfilled.
Main goals of COP27
This year’s conference on climate change had several objectives, but four main ones should be mentioned: mitigation, adaptation, finance and cooperation. Mitigation represents the goal to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels. The second objective was to strengthen the global action plan in the adaptation to climate change. In terms of the financial part, the attending states’ representatives made a commitment to mobilize 100 billion US dollars annually by 2025 to help developing countries deal with the adverse effects of climate change. Lastly, the cooperation objective was about ensuring adequate representation of all relevant stakeholders at COP27, especially those from vulnerable communities.
The Global Methane Pledge is a strong first step
The burning of coal as a fuel is one of the main sources of increasing carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere. Hence, it is often the focus of discussions at climate conferences. For example, last year’s climate conference COP26, which took place in Glasgow, addressed the use of coal as a fuel. More than 100 states and private sector representatives have signed a Global Methane Pledge to phase out coal and fossil fuel financing. Major economies have pledged to move away from coal by 2035.
The Global Methane Pledge also includes a commitment to end the issuance of new permits for coal-fired power plants, their construction, and direct support. By 2040, all of the remaining coal plants would have to be shuttered. This included a promise of 20 countries to end public financial support for coal-fired power stations by the end of 2022. COP27 practically took over the Global Methane Pledge. Although the ambitions were substantial, it was unfortunately not possible to negotiate stricter terms.
The position of the European Union at COP27
The Council of the European Union agreed on the position of the EU as a whole and stressed that the EU must work to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius. To achieve this, the EU called on all Parties to phase out the use of coal and to stop allocating inefficient fossil fuel subsidies. At the same time, the EU called on all countries to collectively strengthen their nationally determined contributions and intensify their efforts to mobilize financing to support climate action.
Let’s stop burning all fossil fuels
For Europe, in particular, the conference was a disappointment. The goal was to reduce emissions that arise from fossil fuels, but such reduction failed to accelerate. Ultimately, the fight to move away from all fossil fuels resulted in only a copy of a year-old text from Scotland on phasing out coal. As states had already agreed at COP26 to phase down coal, the ambition for COP27 was to cut down all fossil fuels. Sadly, the call for a phase-out of all fossil fuels has failed.
However, COP27 was not just a disappointment, and it is therefore necessary to mention some of its key results.
One of the key results of COP27 was the agreement of Parties that limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius requires rapid, deep and sustained reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions. States agreed to reduce gas emission by 43% from their 2019 level, by 2030. Annual global greenhouse gas emissions were at their highest levels from 2010 to 2019. 
As noted above, the Parties have not agreed on anything new about reducing gas emissions. They merely agreed with the Glasgow Climate Pact’s call for nationally determined contributions. The Glasgow Pact should be the starting point for a new framework for mitigation. The new work programme should incentivise Parties to put in place measures that will lead to net zero.
Parties’ agreement on a new fund - salvation for developing countries?
One of the few successes of the COP27 conference is the creation of a loss and damage fund, with countries agreeing to introduce new financial measures to help developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change. That was a breakthrough moment for many actors (especially for developing countries) who had been waiting for its creation for a whole generation. The issue has been part of international negotiations since 1991 when the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) wanted to create an international fund to compensate for losses and damages caused by negative effects of climate change. However, these efforts were not met with success, and the topic went silent for a long time.
The proposal for the creation of the fund was presented at the conference by a group of 134 developing countries known as the G77 and China. The discussion was complicated and even a day before the official end of the conference it seemed that the negotiations would collapse.
The pressure to create such a fund was already strongly felt at last year’s conference in Glasgow, but developing countries were already preparing for this year's’ “African COP” with an unwavering determination to finally reach an agreement. Yet, the topic was added to the official conference agenda at the last minute.
The breakthrough came from the EU and its frustration with the fact that the situation at the summit looked desperate on emission reductions. The EU was also concerned that the year-old (and already weak) Glasgow conclusions could be watered down. Therefore, the EU decided to tie the creation of the fund to the adoption of stricter conclusions in reducing emissions. An agreement was eventually reached, and the creation of the fund was finally supported by the long-resisting United States.
At this year’s summit, the US “earned” the highest possible antipathy from non-governmental organizations, which have labelled the country a “colossal fossil” for stubbornly blocking the loss and damage fund.
Mixed feelings about COP27
Despite partial successes, the EU left almost empty-handed. States failed to agree on accelerating emissions reductions. Instead of looking for new ways, the fight was to keep in place, minimally, the compromise conclusions from last years’ conference in Glasgow.
The fact that the conference was held in Egypt also caused mixed feelings, as the country’s government faces criticism for alleged human rights violations. According to many human rights defenders, this year’s conference was a kind of hypocrisy of Western governments because they did not pay attention to the dictatorial background of the ruling regime in Egypt.
The 28th session of the conference, COP28, will take place in the United Arab Emirates. For the time being, no further information has yet been published. One can only hope that COP28 will bring stronger restrictions on the burning of all fossil fuels.
 More information about global energy and CO2 status report 2019 here: https://www.iea.org/reports/global-energy-co2-status-report-2019/emissions. More about global energy in 2019 here: https://www.iea.org/reports/global-energy-co2-status-report-2019
COP27 Reaches Breakthrough Agreement on New “Loss and Damage” Fund for Vulnerable Countries (2022, November 20). United Nations Climate Change. Získáno z https://unfccc.int/news/cop27-reaches-breakthrough-agreement-on-new-loss-and-damage-fund-for-vulnerable-countries.
Kubala, R. (2022, listopad). COP 27: Marná klimatická conference podlévaná krví egyptského lidu. Deník Referendum. Získáno z https://denikreferendum.cz/clanek/34594-cop-27-marna-klimaticka-konference-podlevana-krvi-egyptskeho-lidu.
Konference OSN o změně klimatu (COP 27), summit o provádění opatření v oblasti klimatu, Šarm aš-Šajch, 7.-8. Listopadu 2022 (2022, listopad 21). Consilium Europa. Získáno z https://www.consilium.europa.eu/cs/meetings/international-summit/2022/11/07-08/
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. United Nations Climate Change. Získáno z https://unfccc.int/cop27.
We need action. COP27 Edinburgh Climate March, author: Neil Hanna / Friends of the Earth Scotland, November 12, 2022, source: Flickr, CC BY 2.0, edits: cropped.