Takeaways from COP27

The delegation of Swiss Youth for Climate has returned back home safely from COP27. We advocated on many levels directly with Swiss decision makers such as Simonetta Sommaruga and the Secretary for International Finance Questions. The conference in Egypt has brought us all one significant step forward in terms of climate justice by agreeing to the establishment of a fund addressing Loss & Damage. Many questions are still to be answered, however. A summary of the main outcomes of COP27.

Loss & Damage Finance: An agreement on the proposal of the EU was reached. The block united the international community by agreeing to the establishment of a fund on Loss & Damage under the condition of enlarging the group of countries contributing instead of receiving money. The details of the fund, however, are to be resolved by a transitional committee and will be discussed at COP28. The team of SYFC was continually able to raise this issue in direct meetings with the Swiss delegation and federal councilor Simonetta Sommaruga.  

No new ambitions on phasing out fossil fuels: The presidency of Egypt openly struck new gas deals on the sideline of the conference and blocked language on the phase out of fossil fuels. A step back from the ambition of Glasgow last year was fortunately avoided, but the cumulation of crises leading up to COP27 made progress very difficult. On top of this, fossil fuel lobbyists made up an even larger proportion at COP27 than at COP26—this is absolutely unacceptable and stalls meaningful progress. Swiss Youth for Climate did their part by urging Switzerland to leave the Energy Charter Treaty, paving the way to exit fossil fuels. 

Adaptation: No large progress on the issue was made. Since this was supposed to be a COP for African countries, many of which urgently require adaptation funding to deal with the impacts of the climate crisis. A special report on adaptation by the IPCC was unfortunately rejected. In general, the agenda is poorly funded and there is a significant gap between pledges and required funds to adapt to the climate crisis. A delegation member of SYFC closely followed this topic and represented young people in the process. 

Climate Finance: The goal of delivering USD 100 billion of climate finance still hasn’t been reached and no decision on this is due until 2024, further delaying progress. The major point of tension is that developed countries want to lend money to carbon cutting projects and include private finance, while developed countries want grants to tackle adaptation projects which are unprofitable but essential for them. Switzerland is not paying up its fair share when it comes to the fund - as with the other issues, it has been continually mentioned to the Swiss delegation and will remain a topic for national advocacy. 

Mitigation work programme: The ambition in reducing emissions must be raised immediately—the negotiations, however, did not bring significant progress on the issue. The two blocks—developing & vulnerable countries on the one side and emerging economies on the other—could find a compromise, but the outcomes were weak. 

Bridgetown Agenda: An initiative by Barbados prime minister Mia Mottley was aimed at overhauling the international financial system and redirecting trillions of USD into investments to tackle the climate crisis. While reforms of the international financial system do not happen within the UNFCCC, they affect the process. Countries called on multilateral development banks and international financial institutions to “significantly increase climate ambition”. The IEA projects that until 2030, USD 4 trillion must be invested in renewable energy to meet the Paris agreement. The financial system requires a complete transformation to deliver on this. 

Carbon trading rules: Most progress was made in Glasgow last year—the two tier carbon market that was created bans double counting of emission between countries. Partnerships between private companies and states however are exempt from this, meaning that if companies finance emission reduction, it can be accounted to both the company and the state. That opens the door for greenwashing. See here an article by Jean-Valentin in Heidi.news on Switzerland's use of carbon markets.

Just Energy Transition: Deals between emerging and developed countries to speed up the shift to renewables gained traction. Countries agreed on annual ministerial roundtables to facilitate the process. 

Africa’s Special Needs & Circumstances: Africa as a continent hoped to be recognised as a continent with special needs & circumstances and be included in priority access to e.g. funding that is given to least developed countries (LCD) and small island developing states (SIDS). Latin American countries argued that they too should be given priority - no consensus was reached, though.

Our communication work on site has greatly improved since last year, especially on our Instagram channel, where we explained important concepts concisely to a larger audience - click on the Instagram Icon below to see for yourself. Have a look also at the report on SYFC at COP27 by Swiss French Television here and David's interview here.

Our communication work on site has greatly improved since last year, especially on our Instagram channel, where we explained important concepts concisely to a larger audience. Have a look for yourself! The questions remains whether COP27 was a failure. Debated every year - we think that climate action is down to national countries after all, COPs are defining the playing field and give us the chance to interact with decision makers directly. The implementation of measures keeping us within the target set by the Paris Agreement is down to Swiss governments on all levels and businesses. National advocacy therefore is and remains a strong pillar of our engagement!