Rev Dr Rachel Mash

On almost all  levels, COP27 will go down in history as a failure  

Reducing carbon emissions

Wealthy nations and the over 600 fossil fuel lobbyists stopped meaningful action on  the phasing out of fossil fuels. Because this is a UN process, the decision is made by consensus not a vote. So a decision can be overruled by dissenting party

Outside of the negotiating halls, the voice of impacted nations was heard from climate activists and NGOs and a growing number of faith actors. Inside the negotiations their voice is almost silenced since the  only protests allowed within the venue  were those sanctioned by the Egyptian security forces.

There is  a  vast inequality in the representation of countries – attending COP is hugely expensive (Especially this one!) and poorer countries cannot afford to send large delegations. The largest number of negotiators was from the United Arab Emirates with more than 1000 delegates – go figure which way they would vote!

The war in Ukraine meant that oil and gas producing nations had more influence and world leaders were reluctant to talk about reducing other sources .  The rush for gas in Africa was clearly on the table.

Parties came up with the very weak wording of  “accelerating efforts towards the phase-down of unabated coal power and phase-out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies.” Pretty much bla bla

The final text  announced no new targets or commitments (NDCs) , the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees is becoming more and more impossible.  Instead new country pledges or nationally determined contributions (NDCs), were delayed for yet another year- to  COP28.

Loss and damage

COP27 was almost a complete wash out, but in the dying hours of the extended COP27 negotiations, they came back from the brink of absolute failure, to hear the cries of climate activists from around the world and to establish a loss and damage facility. This is significant as it recognises the moral responsibility of carbon polluting nations to those most impacted by climate change .

The developed nations pushed back, not wanting to be held (potentially legally) responsible for the appalling damage being caused by climate change. Another contentious  issue is whether we count yearly emissions (where China and India score very high) or cumulative emissions, where EU and USA are the highest, as they have been producing high levels. China was keen that ‘historic emitters’ bear the highest costs and the USA tried to pull back using the excuse that China should also be a high payer. The facility has been set up but how much finance will be delivered to where it is most needed remains to be seen.

COP27 has failed to addressed the key challenges of climate change.

Breathe, take time to rest, refill your tanks  and then we stand up and keep on fighting. 

We are not optimists, but in the words of Archbishop Tutu – we are prisoners of hope.