COP27 must keep a resilient, 1.5°C future within our grasp

Posted on June, 06 2022

Ahead of COP27, the stakes are higher than ever with an unfolding energy crisis and record-breaking global greenhouse gas emissions. Negotiations in Sharm El-Sheikh are vital to keep 1.5°C in reach and increase resilience, writes WWF’s Global Climate & Energy Leader, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal.
When world leaders left COP26, it was clear that there were still loose ends to be tied up after a number of crucial decisions were deferred. The Glasgow talks succeeded – just – in their goal of keeping the Paris Agreement 1.5°C warming threshold within reach. 

Now, as governments meet in Bonn this week and prepare for COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, in November later this year, they must redouble their efforts to achieve that goal, through progress towards net-zero emissions and increasing climate resilience. 

Delivering by 2030

The immediate priority for those two objectives of mitigation and adaptation is for countries to urgently take action to meet and go beyond the 2030 pledges they made in their nationally determined contributions (NDCs). As part of this, those countries which have not yet updated their NDCs need to do so, as was agreed in Glasgow, and countries with NDCs not aligned to 1.5°C should enhance their targets. 

It is essential that countries implement and exceed the NDCs already submitted. For the Paris Agreement to deliver, we need to focus on enhancing ambition and implementation simultaneously, creating the basis for stronger pledges by COP27 and in 2025. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has made clear that emissions need to peak in the first half of this decade if we are to stand a chance of holding warming below 1.5°C. Implementing current NDCs would deliver a 16% increase in emissions by 2030. Governments must use every tool at their disposal to deliver on their emissions targets and go beyond them. These efforts will be assessed by the first Global Stocktake under the Paris Agreement, which will conclude in 2023. 

Critical to resilience is more effort on adaptation. We are calling for a global goal on adaptation that, among other things, sees 50% of climate finance directed to helping the most vulnerable adapt to the effects of climate change. COP27 also needs to agree a plan for loss and damage with a dedicated financial mechanism to ensure that the developing countries that will bear the brunt of climate change are given the resources they will need to build back stronger.

All hands on deck 

Non-state actors have, ever since the launch of the Lima-Paris Action Agenda in 2014, proved to be fundamental in moving climate action forward. We need to see progress in meeting the Race to Zero targets that many of these businesses, cities, regions, investors, and financial and educational institutions have committed to, and more transparent means to track progress. Here, the work of a high-level expert group convened by UN Secretary General António Guterres will prove invaluable. 

Finance is another fundamental pillar. Inexcusably, the developed world has still not met the pledge, made back in Copenhagen in 2009, to direct $100 billion/year in climate finance to developing countries by 2020. That target must be met this year and a new post-2025 target must be agreed by 2024. We also want to see more progress among private sector financial institutions in aligning their portfolios with 1.5°C, as well as in the finance directed to addressing methane as an important source of greenhouse emissions.

Our response to climate change must rest on science. The IPCC has warned that we are likely to overshoot 1.5°C (at least temporarily) by some time in the 2030s. We must respond with potential solutions to that overshoot, primarily by phasing out fossil fuels and advancing climate-resilient development.

Nature and climate

We also need to continue to pursue convergence between our climate goals and our efforts to protect nature. We will simply be unable to avoid climate chaos and further biodiversity loss if we do not protect and restore natural systems and drastically reduce fossil fuel emissions. The negotiations for a Global Biodiversity Framework, in Kunming in China later this year, offer an opportunity to drive that convergence.
The climate talks are, of course, taking place within a challenging geopolitical context. COP27 will need to acknowledge and navigate this context. Rising energy prices and increased awareness of the dangers of fossil fuel dependency should further illustrate the benefits of decarbonizing our energy system, boosting efficiency and expanding renewables as rapidly as the climate crisis requires. 

COP27 will take place in Africa, in the Global South. It provides an important opportunity to recognize the specific challenges that climate change poses to Africa and the MENA region in particular, and the South more broadly. We need to seize this chance to recognize the reality of climate change faced by some of the most vulnerable people in the world.

Read more about WWF’s Expectations for COP27
A 'Help me' poster is held aloft during a climate march
© Carlos Barquero