The 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27) in Sharm el-Sheikh failed to produce any significant new or ground-breaking decisions on the fight against global warming – writes Kamil Laskowski, Junior Analyst at Wise Europe, on the conclusions of the COP27 conference.
The only success of the summit seems to be the agreement to set up the Loss and Damage Fund to finance the consequences of climate disasters in developing countries. However, even this success can be considered half-hearted (at best) as it is still unclear how the Fund will be resourced – and this particular point will be discussed at the next summit. Obviously, the developed countries would contribute to the Fund. However, a developing country needs to be redefined. At present, China and resource-rich Arab countries, for instance, are still regarded as such – although they can afford to finance the fight against climate change on their own. Consequently, there is a risk that the Fund’s resources will not reach the countries that need them most. These are the states of the Global South – and they will suffer (or already are suffering) the most severe impact of climate change. In addition, the challenge of financing and implementing a transition into low-carbon economy is far greater for them.
Despite the focus on the problems of developing countries, the summit also raised issues that the WiseEuropa Foundation considers to be relevant to Poland.
At the time of economic crisis triggered first by COVID-19 and then by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the problems of securing the level of financing to transform countries’ economies into climate-neutral ones were repeatedly emphasised. Unsustainable debt as an obstacle to further climate action was highlighted by COP27 chair Sameh Shoukry. Meanwhile, to date, around 61% of global spending on climate change mitigation and adaptation has come from bank credits or loans. Excessive debt can hinder access to these key forms of finance. This issue becomes particularly important for Poland, where the current state policy (i.e. the diversion of a large part of the debt to extra-budgetary funds and the relaxation of the so-called spending rule) leads to the opacity of a large fiscal burden and, as a consequence, possibly to problems in generating public funds that would cover energy transition investments.
All in all, the summit was far too unambitious on climate targets. The countries failed to go one step further than they did last year in Glasgow. This year, they collectively expressed a desire only to reduce the share of coal in energy systems, but accepted to continue to use fossil fuels and, in the case of natural gas, even to use it more extensively (as it is considered to be a low-carbon source). There hasn’t been any agreement on any specific collective action beyond the level of general declarations. It was very disappointing to see that there was no decision to identify 2025 as a peak emissions year. All the expectations of agreeing an effective climate policy should be postponed until next year – again.