Our Reflections COP27
This year’s climate meeting, COP27 in Egypt ended late on Saturday evening. As has become the norm with these conferences, the negotiations were overdue and the reactions to the results were both relief and disappointment. What is evident is that the business community is in the forefront of the mitigation measures needed. And that we cannot wait for the world’s political leaders to commit to sufficient adaptation and mitigation measures, the climate transition needs to accelerate faster than the climate negotiations can deliver.
The science is clear - now is the time for climate action. We need to do everything we can to meet the 1.5-degree ambition to avoid irrepairable damage to the world’s ecosystems and the prerequisites for our way of living. Despite this, we hear countries that wish to abandon the ambition and accept that we are overshooting and heading towards 2 degrees or more.
We believe that progress is happening too slowly, however we see developments under COP27 that give us hope and deserve to be highlighted:
- Loss and damage fund. The parties at COP agreed to the establishment of a long-awaited loss and damage fund for assisting developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change. UN Secretary-General António Guterres stated that “This COP has taken an important step towards justice. I welcome the decision to establish a loss and damage fund and to operationalise it in the coming period”. There is, however, no agreement yet on how the finance should be provided and which countries are likely to be eligible.
- Conservation of rain forests. Brazil, Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of Congo – the three countries that are home to more than half of the world’s rain forests, have agreed to negotiate a funding mechanism for conservation. This is important as rainforests help regulate the climate and are home to a wide variety of plants and animal species.
- Business commitment. We see that businesses across the world are the leaders when it comes to climate action and high ambition. This is illustrated by the #wecandoit campaign, the Action Declaration and the We Mean Business sign on statement, which brings together leaders across the world in support of the 1.5 degree target and phasing out subsidies to fossil fuels.
- US & China Climate talks. US and China have restarted their climate talks. Since August, the discussions about combating climate change have been frozen between China and US. However, during the G20, President Joe Biden and President Xi Jinping agreed to restart their discussions as part of international climate negotiations. This is important given that the two countries are the two biggest sources of fossil fuel emissions.
There are however clouds on the horizon, and we see that the 1.5 ambition is under scrutiny. The ambitions for the following areas should and must be raised:
- The NDCs. After last year’s COP26, all countries were given the task to sharpen their national climate commitments ahead of this year’s meeting. Before the meeting 24 out of 194 countries have done so and the expectation that many more would follow during the actual conference did not materialise.
- Fossil fuels. Ahead of the meeting, many hoped that this year’s conference would finally reach an agreement about the root of the problem – a complete phase out of fossil fuels. In contrast to this, the agreement highlights energy production with low emissions as a measure to reduces emissions. This can be interpreted as a loophole for new investments into fossil fuels, primarily gas.
- CO2 emissions. The Global Carbon Project summarises data from several research institutions and in this year's report states that the CO2 emissions are at a record high level. There is no sign of the necessary reductions needed to achieve the 1.5-degree ambition. The emissions are higher compared to 2021, mostly because an increase in burning of oil which to a large extent is because we flew more this year compared to last. If these levels of emissions continue, there is a 50 percent likelihood that the 1.5-degree target is breached within 9 years.
It is time to move from awareness to action. We all have a responsibility to do what we can to turn this around and deliver on the promises made. We see this commitment within the business community today but far from all political leaders. This is especially true for Nordic companies that are in the forefront of delivering climate solutions across the world, we are proud to, together with our clients, be a part of that and stand firm by our commitments to the 1.5-degree ambition
Henrik Tegnér Head of Strategy and Sustainability AFRY
We meet clients every day that are going through major technological shifts, for instance the electrification of the transportation sector. This large-scale industrial shift requires political ambition and determination that sets clear long-term goals for the private sector as well as society on a whole. Unfortunately, we did not see this brave and ambitious leadership at this year’s COP27. This, however, will not slow us down, we are proud to be a leader when it comes to the sustainable transition in collaboration with our clients and partners.
If you want to find out how we will achieve our climate goals – read more in our road map here.