“We join all global south negotiators in celebrating the COP27 commitment to a loss and damage facility. This is the result of their determined action over many years, supported by civil society and faith actors.”
Rudelmar Bueno de Faria, General Secretary of ACT Alliance
What Happened at COP27?
COP27 negotiations wrapped up on November 20, 2022 in Sharm al Sheik, Egypt. ACT Alliance and the World Council of Churches took part in the meetings and side events over the two weeks it was held. Thanks to concerted lobbying by NGOs and the efforts of developing countries, the critical issue of Loss and Damage was addressed. In other areas, there was little or no progress:
- Loss and Damage: The agreement to establish a fund for Loss and Damage was the biggest achievement of COP27. Developing countries had insisted on this mechanism to provide finance for countries to address the impacts of the climate crisis. A process was agreed on establishing the group to manage the fund and determine how and when the money will be distributed. Read more. The New Zealand Government has pledged $20 million for Loss and Damage from funding it had already promised for mitigation and adaptation.
- Fossil Fuel: There was no progress around negotiations on moving away from fossil fuels from COP26 which agreed ‘“to accelerate measures towards the phase-down of unabated coal power and phase out and rationalise inefficient fossil fuel subsidies”. Vanuatu and Tuvalu are supporting the call for a Fossil-Fuel Non-proliferation Treaty.
- Mitigation and Adaptation: As the climate crisis bites deeper, the need for urgent action increases. There was no real change to previous agreements to assist countries change fuel sources or replant forests for example. ACT Alliance reported that country action plans did not show sufficient commitment to mitigation that would keep the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius made in the Paris Agreement. In 2009, COP15 agreed to fund 100 billion USD per year for adaptation by 2020. This is still not being achieved. Reports state rich countries have mobilised only $83 billion per year. Mattias Söderberg, co-chair of the ACT Alliance Climate Justice Reference Group explained, “during the negotiations, the oil-producing developing countries did not want concrete agreements on a green transition as it will have a direct effect on their economies and opportunities for growth.” However, opportunities for the green economy are imperative for the future.
- Climate Finance: The level of funding for mitigation, adaptation and Loss and Damage is insufficient and negotiations over who should pay a fraught. Polluters are trying to minimise their liability and some middle-income countries want to be able to use more readily available fossil fuels. Countries are facing the cost of relocating communities and replacing infrastructure with insufficient assistance, sometimes involving loans from the World Bank and other International Finance Institutions, pushing them further into debt. These institutions could provide more climate finance and stop
- Gender, Indigenous and Human Rights: “The rights of women and girls, in all their diversity, as well as the rights of Indigenous peoples and human rights were often sidelined in negotiations. These rights are virtually invisible in the texts agreed upon related to climate finance, mitigation and adaptation…. Action that does not address the gendered dimensions of the climate emergency can further exacerbate inequalities.” ACT Alliance
Pacific Churches stay Home
CWS partner the Pacific Conference of Churches has taken a strong advocacy role in and around previous UN climate negotiations. This time it chose not to travel to Egypt. Instead staff and ministers from the Fijian Anglican and Methodist churches made a pilgrimage to the Vatulele, an island 32 km south of Viti Levu. The island experienced significant damage from Cyclone Harold in 2020. The storm destroyed the village boat and ripped off the solar panels that powered the village. The team travelled on the Uto Ni Yalo, a non-carbon emitting vaka or boat using traditional navigation knowledge. The vaka carried an outboard for the new boat the village people had built, solar panels, a solar-powered freezer, lights, and dignity packs for the women. Members of the team installed the solar panels and lights and led a two day workshop on climate change and ways to rethink the economic and ecological models.
Where to from here?
- CWS continues to push for more actions to keep the global temperature rise to 1.5 Celsius degrees as agreed in the Paris Agreement. There is a need for greater ambition and decisive action in all areas.
- CWS supports the work of the Pacific Conference of Churches. It is working closely with affected communities and increasingly focusing on psychosocial care. At the same time, PCC is encouraging members and Pacific peoples to draw on their heritages to Reweave the Ecological Mat for a sustainable future. Many of our other partners are working with communities on the frontline of the climate crisis to adapt to the changing climate by learning new ways of growing food, developing new livelihoods and preparing in case of disaster. Our partners use a gender lens and recognise the special place of indigenous peoples in our life together.
- CWS supports and participates in the climate justice campaign of the ACT Alliance of which it is a member.
- CWS encourages support for the Fossil Fuel Non-proliferation Treaty and is considering further work on debt and the involvement of International Finance Institutions like the World Bank.
- COP28 will run from November 30 to December 12, 2023 in the United Arab Emirates.
“As faith actors on the front lines, we see the impact of inaction on God’s creation. We know that urgent action is needed to address the impacts of climate change, which more and more affect the poorest and most vulnerable people, those who have done the least to contribute to climate change. It seems that Parties at COP do not understand or are oblivious to the urgency of the climate emergency.”
Rudelmar Bueno de Faria
Images: Lutheran World Federation/ Albin Hillert
December 16, 2022